For the Coates family, it was very sad when their dog, Zoey, got sick. The family decided to take her to the vet to be euthanized.
Six months later, the Coates received a big surprise when they found out their dog was still alive.
Last fall, Zoey, a boxer, started having seizures. The dog also had a large mass on her side. The family thought it was cancerous and that it was slowly taking her life.
Tawny Coates, Zoey's owner, said her family had been through a very hard time over the past year. Her husband robbed a bank, the family lost their home after he went to prison, and then the family dog got ill.
"This felt like a final stab." Tawny Coates said. "Like it was just one too many things. I knew it was going to be what pushed my kids to their breaking point."
"I slept with Zoey almost every night," said Coates' 11-year-old son Jaxton. "She was my best friend."
On November 29, 2016, Coates asked her father to do what she could not: take Zoey to Bayview Animal Hospital in Farmington to be euthanized.
Six months later, she thought her family was ready for a new dog just like Zoey.
"I knew we wanted a boxer," Tawny Coates said. "I knew a boxer would help my son heal."
She started looking online and came across a rescue page for boxers. It was there, in the photos, that she saw an image she will never forget.
Note: I don't think Boxer Town had any idea that Mary
Smart was lying to them about this dog.
"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 said.
But it couldn't be, could it?
Zoey had been euthanized and Coates had the paperwork to prove it: a receipt for $215 for euthanasia and cremation, Zoey's medical record, which lists euthanasia, and even a sympathy card from the staff at the clinic.
To figure out how this happened, KSL Investigators sat down with Dr. Mary Smart. She's the vet Zoey was brought in to see.
"From my interaction with Mr. Coates, it seemed pretty obvious to me that they didn't want the dog," Smart said.
Here's where it gets tricky. Smart CLAIMS she told Coates' father, Larry, that Zoey did not need to be euthanized.
"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."
Smart CLAIMS she discussed other options that could save Zoey. Surgery, medication, or even "do nothing," but let the dog live.
"Did he seem open to any of your suggestions?" asked KSL TV's Mike Headrick.
"No, no," Smart said. "He kept repeating that he wanted to put the dog down."
I don't believe that for one minute.
Children's grandfather says Mary Smart is a liar
Larry Coates told a different story and called Smart's explanation a "complete falsehood."
He said he did take Zoey in to be euthanized, but claims he was never given any other options that would have saved the dog's life.
Smart contacted a rescue group who was willing to take Zoey. She then took the money for the euthanasia and put it toward a surgery to remove the lump on the dog's back.
A picture of Zoey in Smart's exam room showed up on the rescue group's Facebook page the same day the Coates family thought she was put to sleep.
"Why didn't you call the family?" asked Headrick.
"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."
"It breaks my heart because I don't understand why somebody would do this to my family," Tawny Coates said.
The big question for some might be: Did the vet do the right thing? In Smart's words, she was trying to save an animal's life.
For the answer, we went to Dr. Drew Allen, a member of Utah's Veterinary Board.
"A pet is legally classified as someone's property," said Allen. "As veterinarians, we're obligated to follow what we agree to do with that quote, property."
Allen said this is a legal and ethical issue. He said vets are often asked to euthanize an animal even if they don't want to. So, they have a couple choices —decline and send the pet owner to another vet or come up with another solution. But once the pet owner pays for a service, the vet is obligated to do it.
"As much as we are in this profession for the love of the animals, we need to make sure we're not putting just what we think is best for the animal above the owners and the humans involved in the equation as well," Allen said.
In the end, the Coates family did get their dog back. Now, they're making up for lost time — time that they ironically have thanks to Smart's choice.
"If I had followed procedure, if I had followed protocol, if I had done what Mr. Coates asked me, they wouldn't have their dog," Smart said. "Their dog would have been euthanized and this family would be without their dog."
So she thinks they're supposed to thank her? For lying, stealing their dog and their money, sending them fake sympathy cards while shuttling their beloved dog off into the 'rescue system' to be sold and possibly re-sold? And what slanderous and libelous things did she say to this rescue about this poor family?
I don't have any reason to believe the rescue was in collusion with MARY SMART. I hope not.
The Veterinary Board might look at disciplinary action in Dr. Smart's case, but no official complaint has been filed against her.
Mary Smart needs to be prosecuted for theft. She also needs to be disciplined by the veterinary board. This is outrageous. She can bawl and whine all she wants about how, "But, but the dog's alive. If it weren't for me lying and stealing their money and stealing their dog, it'd be dead!"
I don't believe for one minute that this guy was demanding this dog be put down if told the dog could be saved. He knew what the dog meant to his daughter and grandchildren.
I think she made a decision that this was a 'bad family' and didn't deserve this dog. This type of behavior is rampant in the rescue community. People who do the right thing and bring their pets to the shelter to drop off (or to a vet to have the animal euthanized) are maligned and vilified for 'abandoning' their pets. I have posted on this issue previously and my thoughts.
This woman has likely done this before to who knows how many other families and this is just the first time she was caught. She needs to be prosecuted.
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