A dog owner grieving over the death of her family's beloved miniature pinscher was shocked to learn the pup was still alive—five months after her veterinarian allegedly said the ailing dog needed to be euthanized.
Keri Levy told NJ.com that her miniature pinscher Ceasar had Cushing's disease, and their vet, Dr. George Menez of Briarwood Veterinary Hospital recommended to put down the dog in May. She says that after the "procedure," she "got a call telling her Ceasar was 'at peace' and that she could come in and pick up his collar."
But this past weekend, a tipster told the Levy family that Caesar was still alive and actually in the custody of one of the hospital's employees. The hospital told Levy that Dr. Menez no longer worked there, according to NJ.com:
After finally getting Menez on the phone, Levy said the vet admitted Ceasar was never put down and that the dog was taken home by a now-former employee.
Howell police contacted that employee and told her she had until noon to return Ceasar. The woman promptly returned Ceasar and Levy was briefly reunited with her dog...
Ceasar suffered from Cushing's disease, an endocrine disorder, and received no medical treatment since May, Levy said. The dog lost 10 pounds since she last saw him.
Levy said she and her mother spent about an hour with Caesar while he was examined one final time before being put down, she said.
Levy contacted the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is investigating, and the police, to say the dog was stolen.
"I'm dumbfounded," another member of the Levy family told WABC 7. "I don't even know how to say, I don't know how to feel." Levy added that he paid $192 for the dog's cremation and "even got a condolence letter from" Menez.
On Wednesday, Howell police detective Sgt. Christian Antunez said, "Dr. George Menez, the previous veterinarian at Briarwood, allowed an employee at the office assisting in the procedure to take Ceasar home. This employee wanted to do so out of compassion for the dog and a desire to rehabilitate his health, albeit without the owner's consent."
Antunez added, "There has been mention over social media that Caesar was suffering, but at the time of the dog's return, officers and the detective investigating found the dog to be in good spirits and no obvious signs of neglect were apparent. However, the dog's condition and attention it was given during the last five months will be a matter more appropriately investigated by the MCSPCA."
There may be possible theft of service charges, police added.
Menez and the vet tech no longer work at Briarwood. A new vet, Dr. Maureen Kibisz, had bought the practice last week and was upset by the events, telling WABC 7, "It's hard enough when you have to decide a pet should pass, but you have to deal with that twice with the same pet? It's just unthinkable."