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Utah Family Discovers Their Dog is Alive 6 Months After Paying to Euthanize Her

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A bizarre series of events involving a heartbroken family and a veterinarian who broke the rules to save a dog’s life miraculously came to a happy ending when the family discovered their dog still alive and well more than 6 months after paying to euthanize her.

Last fall, the Coates family of Farmington, Utah, made the difficult decision to have their dog Zoey, who had been suffering from seizures, euthanized after discovering she had developed a large mass on her side.

Unable to take part in her beloved dog’s final moments, on Nov. 29, 2016, Tawny Coates, Zoey’s owner, asked her father to take the Boxer to Bayview Animal Hospital in Farmington to be euthanized. He handed over the dog along with $215 payment for euthanasia and cremation.

Six months later, the Coates decided it was time to, once again, open their hearts and home to a dog. Hoping for another Boxer like Zoey, Tawny Coates began her search online.

That’s when she found a local Boxer rescue group and began searching through adoptable dog profiles in hopes of finding the perfect fit for her family – and did she ever!

“I see the Boxer Town rescue page and I’m like, ‘That looks like my dog.’ Then I thought, ‘I’m crazy,’ but I click on it anyway and zoom in and say, ‘No, that’s my dog!’” Coates told KSL-TV.

How was it possible? Coates had the receipt for Zoey’s euthanasia and cremation, her medical records showing she’d be euthanized, even a sympathy card from staff at the veterinary hospital.


Veterinarian Mary Smart had some explaining to do.

“From my interaction with Mr. Coates, it seemed pretty obvious to me that they didn’t want the dog,” Smart told reporters. She asserts that she informed Mr. Coates that Zoey did not need to be euthanized, but he wasn’t interested in other options, insisting that Zoey be put down. Larry Coates denies her claims.

“In my professional opinion, this was a dog that had years to live and I didn’t want to put the dog down,” Smart said. “I was trying to save its life.”

So, she let the Coates family believe that their dog had passed and used the money they paid for her euthanasia to perform the surgery needed to remove her tumor. She then passed the dog onto a Boxer rescue in hopes of finding her a loving new home.

Although, technically, Dr Smart did not follow protocol and conducted fraud which could affect her profession, it is as a result of her actions that Zoey is still alive and now back at home with the family that loved and missed her.

“I screwed up,” Smart said. “I should have called the family. Had I any inkling that they might at all be interested in having the dog back, I would have for sure called. But after my conversation with Mr. Coates, it just seemed very obvious to me that they didn’t want the dog.”

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  1. Awesome Vet. Rescue should not have given the family back the dog. I side with the Veterinarian.

    • Avatar Of Joyce



      The Rescue group erred big time in allowing the family to get Zoey back. They did not care enough to seek medical care and/or cure for the dog so the rescue group should NEVER allowed the family to get this dog back. What happens the next time Zoey becomes ill? A different Vet to be SURE she is euthanized???

      • Avatar Of Kelli Roberts

        Kelli Roberts


        That could cause the vet to lose her license. Better to let the dog go back than take this warrior out of the fight!

  2. Avatar Of Maxine maxine says:

    There are rules of man and rules of Creation. Creation always sides with the survival of the healthy species. If the vet presented options that Mr. Coates rejected, regardless of what the law may say, she answered to the Higher Power, which was in the wider understanding of the oaths a vet or a doctor takes, was the right and noble thing to do. If the dog was truly terminal, it would have been unethical to force it to live in pain. But the condition was curable and the doctor after having explained it to the owners, was unsuccessful in achieving what was best for the dog. Emphasis on what was best for the dog. So she did the ethical thing and refused to take a healthy life. That's the kind of vet I want treating my pet. Did she screw up? Only from the view of a law interpreted without discretion. But laws in this country are written, not carved in stone and even the Supreme Court allows for discretion. In a literal sense–on paper she was not honest. But in the wider meaning of what a vet's job is–she was spot on. As to the boxer rescue–I would not have given this dog back to the original owner.

    • Avatar Of Sandra P. Overstreet

      Sandra P. Overstreet


      I had a similar thing happen to me. I rescued a severely abused dog. I was at the vet's office when she was brought in from a pound in a county that didn't have a humane adoption center. I told her give me that dog, I'll love her. I spent $10,000 on surgery. She had to be fed with a feeding tube. I had a port put in like a bottle cap on her side so she wouldn't have to spend her life dragging around a 9" long rubber feeding tube. My sister thought it was inhumane. One day I'd left her at my mother's so I could spend 4 hours driving to and being at a Doctor's for an appointment. My sister had her euthanized while I was gone. Just like this man, he made the decision. I'm sure he liked and said I was his dog. He didn't want it. Just like my sister. I can't get my Sassy back. So don't punish the daughter. Only, I don't believe her. Because how did she even *know* it didn't need to be euthanized? She didn't take it to a vet to see. She stated she told her dad to have it euthanized. I think she's after money.

  3. Avatar Of Jan Sanders

    Jan Sanders


    Dog is still alive? Doctor thought the dog had a chance? For the record it would be great to video tape these "I never want to see the dog again" sort of statements that the vet seemed to indicate that the family (1) didn't love the dog and (2) never wanted to see the dog again. I would fix her intake forms to say that – if – in their care – the dog appears to not be as ill as determined then monies would be used to fix the ailment and help the dog live a healthy life. The dog will be placed in a new loving home as determined by the vet. I am happy the dog is alive. Works for me.

  4. Avatar Of Katie Decosse

    Katie DeCosse


    Although this story has a happy ending, what the vet did was HIGHLY unethical. I assume that a signature was given on a form which gives the clinic permission to euthanize the dog. Having worked in a clinic and explaining that this form assures them that their wishes are carried out, this in my opinion is a horrible violation of a contract. I know of similar situations where when the clinic is reluctant to perform the euthanasia, the owner is given the option of signing over the rights to the animal, essentially ending their ownership of the pet. Oftentimes there is no charge for the signed release of the animal. I would be livid if I found out this had happened to my pet and would sue the clinic for just about eveything they are worth.

    • Avatar Of Julia



      I disagreed. If vet refused, most likely the dad will find another vet to kill the dog. This vet in fact saved the dog.

    • Avatar Of Gaye Wearne

      Gaye Wearne


      Livid? I would be extremely grateful, what is wrong with you?

    • Avatar Of Dali Petty

      Dali Petty


      So, you're the type that prefers money (sueing for every penny!) over saving a family member (because it's a bit 'unethical!')? Shame.

    • Avatar Of C Silva

      C Silva


      I would be livid if I found out this had happened to my pet and would sue the clinic for just about eveything they are worth."


  5. Avatar Of Diane



    Doctor is lucky her state board isn't involved in this. It is definately an unethical thing to do.

    • Avatar Of Julia



      I disagreed. If vet refused, almost certainly the dad will find another vet to kill the dog. This vet in fact saved the dog. They should never never give the dog back.

      • Avatar Of Debbie B

        Debbie B


        I believe the same thing you do. That the dog should have never been given back to the family that had her cause it's obvious that they had no intention of saving him, which means they no longer wanted him.

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