Rocky is alive -- so his owner is suing the Westview Animal Hospital and the two veterinarians who billed her for killing her seriously ill Doberman pinscher last December.
After arranging to have her companion of 10 years put to sleep, rather than undergo expensive surgery that might not have saved him, Cheryl Dabney of Baltimore said she received a condolence card with a handwritten note: "Rocky was a neat dog & a friend that we will all miss," from veterinarian Kathleen Lackey in late December. A copy was attached to her lawsuit, filed last week in Baltimore County Circuit Court.
In mid-January, an employee of the animal hospital called to say that Rocky was alive and in her possession. According to the lawsuit, the employee, Bonnie Forgen, wanted to return the dog, saying the veterinarians had performed an experiment on the animal and given it to her.
Ms. Dabney, 30, of the 3400 block of Alto Road in Windsor Hills, said she was "extremely happy that he was alive: I'd been with him so long, he was like my child."
She also stopped payment on the checks for euthanasia of her dog, which is with her now, although still sick, she said.
In her suit, Ms. Dabney said she took Rocky to the animal hospital on Johnnycake Road on Dec. 20, 1990. Two days later Dr. Lackey and Dr. Troy H. Foland said Rocky needed about $3,000 in surgery, and together they decided upon euthanasia.
Dr. Lackey and Dr. Foland, who is now at another animal hospital, both declined to comment on the case.
Ms. Dabney is seeking actual and punitive damages of $10,000 and $100,000 on various claims, including allegations that the hospital and the doctors took her dog, that they experimented upon the animal without her permission, and that they injured her credit rating by turning over their $382.75 bill for euthanasia and disposal of the dog's body to a collection agency.
"I was really heartbroken" by the decision to have Rocky put to sleep, she said. "But they told me he had this problem, an enlarged prostate and something wrong with his bladder . . . I didn't have that kind of money, and he was 10 years old, and there was no guarantee he'd even pull through.
"They asked if I wanted to stay, and I said no: I was hysterical. And then a technician called me and told me he was alive -- and to come pick him up!"