Bela The Dog, Sentenced To Death In Owner's Will, Gets A Great New Life At Sanctuary

It's a very happy new year for Bela the dog and the many people who worried about the 9-year-old German shepherd's fate.
After an 1,800-mile trip to Utah from Indiana, Bela arrived at the Best Friends Animal Society's no-kill sanctuary Sunday where he was greeted with a great big party:
“It's wonderful to be able to welcome Bela here,” Best Friends CEO Gregory Castle said in a statement. “It speaks to our principle of valuing all animal life. In this case, there was potential for something terrible to happen, but we are set up to give him a great life and all indications are that he is a beautiful and wonderful dog.”
That great life might have ended much sooner.
Bela's owner, Indiana resident Connie Ley, died in November. Her will provided that Bela could either be euthanized and cremated, with the dog's ashes mixed with hers, or that the pup could be sent to Best Friends' no-kill sanctuary -- home to some 1,700 dogs, cats, pigs, goats, bunnies, birds and other animals -- in the red rocks of southern Utah.
For a while -- despite an outpouring of public support for the no-kill option and legal precedent advising against euthanasia -- no one could be sure which option the will's anonymous executor would select.
Further complicating things, Best Friends had not been aware of Bela until news reports about the dog began to appear. The shelter reached out to Ley's attorney and executor, but there was no guarantee those in charge would agree to let the group take Bela.
That changed on Dec. 23, when Best Friends announced that Bela would be coming to Utah to enjoy "a warm, happy holiday with lots of treats, toys and love."
Best Friends spokesman Eric Rayvid told The Huffington Post it's not yet clear if Bela will one day be available for adoption like the majority of Best Friends' animals.
"We're going to let him settle in, get comfortable and see how it goes," Rayvid said.
In order for more pets to have these kinds of opportunities, "people really need to plan for what will happen to their pets if the pets outlive them," he said.
"Preparation is the key, but here's the important part: Folks need to talk to the orgs if they're looking to send pets to them," Rayvid said. "Most run at capacity and might not be able to take in a pet that they get surprised with like we did Bela."
Get out the tissues (and send some over to us, too, please): Here's a wonderful video the staff and volunteers at PAWS of Dearborn County, which cared for Bela before his journey to Utah, made for their famous charge:
Keep tabs on Bela on the Best Friends Facebook page, and find out more about the group's other adoptable animals here.
Get in touch at arin.greenwood@huffingtonpost.com if you have an animal story to share!
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