When a dog developed a large tumor on her neck, her family assumed the worst.
In 2016, Tawny Coates thought her dog was going to die. The nine-year-old boxer named Zoey started having seizures, and her health was in a downward spiral. After an already rough year that saw Tawny's husband sent to prison and their house go into foreclosure, the situation with Zoey seemed too much to handle.
Tawny's children treated Zoey like part of the family, but the mom knew she couldn't let her kids watch their beloved dog die. When Zoey's health seemed to be at its worst, she made the heartbreaking decision to have the dog euthanized.
Too emotional to go to the vet herself, Tawny asked her father, Larry Coates, to handle Zoey's last moments. He agreed and took Zoey to the Bayview Animal Hospital.
This is where the story gets confusing. According to Larry, he dropped Zoey off with Dr. Mary Smart, paid the $215 fee, and left. The family was saddened by Zoey's passing, and 11-year-old Jaxton had a particularly tough time.
In an attempt to fill the Zoey-sized hole in their lives, Tawny and her children were considering adopting another Boxer six months later. They were looking at local rescues on Facebook when they saw a picture of a pup that looked a lot like Zoey. After studying the picture and identifying Zoey's unique facial features, they were shocked to determine the dog in question was in fact their long-lost Zoey.
After contacting the rescue and doing their best to explain the situation, they learned the vet had decided not to euthanize Zoey all those months ago. Dr. Smart told WPTV:
"In my professional opinion, this was a dog that had years to live, and I didn't want to put the dog down...I was trying to save its life."
Dr. Smart claims she explained her hesitations to Larry and suggested surgery and medication. According to her statement, he insisted on putting the dog down and acted like Zoey's family didn't want her anymore. After Larry left, she made the decision not to euthanize Zoey, and instead, she performed surgery to remove the tumor.
Bayview Animal Hospital took care of Zoey until she was healthy enough to be sent to the rescue. Boxer Town Rescue of Utah renamed the dog Miss Frankie, placed her in a foster home, and started the work to get her adopted. That's when Tawny learned the truth about what happened to her dog, and she knew she wanted Zoey back.
Despite what Dr. Smart says about her interaction with Larry on the day Zoey was thought to be put down, the man says he was never given any information about the possibility of surgery. According to his side of the story, the vet gave no objections to putting Zoey to sleep, and he has a receipt proving Dr. Smart agreed to euthanize the dog. The vet's office even sent the family a sympathy card after her "passing."
After uncovering the situation, Zoey has since been returned to her family. Tawny said on Facebook;
"This picture makes my heart so full and I don't think I could put into words how grateful I am for this specific reunion. Jaxton never recovered after we lost Zoe. "
While they're happy to have their dog back, the Coates family brings up the ethical issues behind the vet's decision. Dr. Smart failed to inform the family that Zoey was still alive, and the uncertainty surrounding the situation puts Dr. Smart's career at risk. If the Coates family decides to file a complaint with the Utah Veterinary Board, Dr. Smart will face disciplinary action.
A board member told KSL the problem isn't in Dr. Smart's refusal to euthanize the dog, but in the fact payment was collected for a service that wasn't performed.
While Zoey and her family were separated for the past six months, they're reunion feels like a true miracle. Zoey will enjoy the rest of her life as a healthy and beloved family pet.
What do you think of this misunderstanding? Let us know in the comments below.
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