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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.”