I was going to start out this post saying, “It’s every dog owner’s greatest fear.” But I realized that isn’t true. Most of us would never dream that what befell a 17-year-old Virginia dog when she escaped from her backyard could ever happen anywhere but a nightmare.
Allen and Alison Holmes let their Border Collie/Corgi mix out in the backyard to enjoy some pleasant weather a couple of weeks ago. Allen took a picture of her drinking from a metal wash basin at 12:06 p.m. The dog, Basie, was like their child; they’d had her since she was a puppy, and they doted on her. “She was just a delightful dog,” Allen Holmes told The Patch.com.
“She was actually doing pretty well that morning,” he said. “She’d eaten. She’d gone to the bathroom. She was drinking out of the washbasin. I thought that was cute. She did have trouble moving, but she was able to walk.”
When he went out 15 minutes later to see how she was doing, she was gone. It was baffling, because at her age, Basie was not a fast mover. In fact, the Holmeses didn’t think she could or would leave the yard on her own.
The couple scoured the area for her, plastering signs everywhere, and talking with neighbors. But by about 3 p.m., unknown to them, it was too late. Their dog had already been euthanized by a nearby veterinarian.
At a local animal shelter the next morning, they found what was left of their beloved old dog: just her cremated remains. They are devastated.
“The shift supervisors gave us the exam record and they said that she arrived at 12:20 p.m. The picture that I took was at 12:06 p.m. It’s about a 10-minute drive to the shelter,” Allen Holmes told the Patch.
“We had no chance of finding her in that time,” said Alison Holmes. “When we did find her, it was only because of our tireless searching. No one called us.”
“To give us no opportunity to be there is horrifyingly wrong,” Alison said in an interview with WUSA-9.
The story they’ve been told is that the dog was found in the woods (actually some rows of trees, the couple says) near their house by a woman who brought the dog to her own veterinarian, Crosspointe Animal Hospital, in Fairfax Station. The Holmeses think the woman was probably concerned about Basie because the dog was very thin, despite the high-quality diet they fed her.
The veterinarian checked out the dog, found no collar but plenty of ailments of old age, and euthanized her. According to Virginia Code 3.2-6507, it’s legal for a veterinarian to euthanize a sick or injured dog without the owner’s permission if the owner can’t immediately be located.
I know there may be angry comments about the dog not wearing a collar, but the Holmeses say her neck was irritated by the collar (old dogs can have sensitive skin) so she wasn’t wearing hers.
The couple said Basie was not ready to die and that they were not ready to part with her. They are haunted by the idea that she was alone, without them, when she was killed. “We wanted to be there if she was euthanized. We didn’t feel like it was quite the time, but somebody else did,” Allen said. They have not decided if they will take legal action.
Animal hospital management claims staff immediately tried to contact the Prince William County Animal Shelter (the shelter for the county where the dog had been found), but the shelter refused to pick up Basie. But the next day her ashes were at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter. It seems somehow someone had transported her â€” or at least her body â€” from Point A to Point B.
How incredibly sad is this situation, Dogsters? The vet may have seen a decrepit old dog and figured she had no decent home, but if s/he had looked at her well-trimmed nails, or inside her mouth, where the Holmeses say Basie recently had a tooth extracted, there were pretty good hints that the dog had a home.
“We really took care of her,” Allen Holmes said.
So did the veterinarian …
I don’t know the dog’s exact ailments, but what do you think, Dogsters? Should the vet have waited to see if anyone came to get her? Or, assuming the dog presented with an assortment of issues, did s/he act act humanely?
Update 11/12/11: The veterinary hospital has posted this page regarding Basie’s story. It states that Basie seemed to be in acute respiratory distress, struggling to breathe, and unable to walk. It’s kind of a complex story that doesn’t entirely jibe with other reports, but it’s worth reading. I don’t think it will change a lot of minds, but says the vet believed s/he was helping the dog. The post ends: “While Crosspointe Animal Hospital is extremely saddened by the entire situation, they feel as though they cannot apologize for trying to humanely end an animals suffering. A patients well being is always the first and foremost consideration when deciding on a treatment plan at Crosspointe Animal Hospital and we commend the Good Samaritan who tried to help treat and if possible save this dog.”