A vet tech has been charged with animal cruelty after taking a sick dog home and keeping it alive for five month’s after its owners believed he had been put down.
Andrea Oliveira, of Freehold, New Jersey, was allegedly given an elderly dog by Dr. George Mendez after pretending to its owner that it had been put down because they believed they could nurse him back to health.
Dr. George Menez of Howell, New Jersey, is alleged to have told Keri Levy that he euthanized her miniature pinscher Caesar at Briarwood Veterinary Hospital in May.
Keri Levy took Caesar, her Miniature Pinscher, to the vet in May to be put down. She said he was suffering Cushing’s disease
Dr. George Menez (picutred) is accused of giving the dog to vet tech Andrea Oliveira who has been charged with animal cruelty
No charges have been filed against Dr. Menez at this time.
Levy claims the 15-year-old dog was suffering Cushing’s disease, a painful condition which affects elderly dogs, at the time.
She claims that hours after saying goodbye to the animal, Dr. Menez phoned her to tell her Caesar was ‘at peace’.
But on Sunday, five months after she took him to the vet, she received an anonymous message from someone saying the dog was still alive and being cared for by one of Menez’s employees.
According to police who are now investigating the chain of events, Oliveira did not believe Caesar needed to be euthanized and thought she could nurse him back to health.
Whether or not the dog was as ill as Levy said he was is disputed.
Police say that when he was given back to his owner, he was in good spirits and showed no signs of ill health despite Levy’s claim that his condition had deteriorated.
She insisted to DailyMail.com that he had lost ’10lbs’ since she dropped him off to be euthanized in May and that the second vet she sought was satisfied he needed to be put down.
In May, Menez allowed Oliveira to take Caesar home with her but never told Levy, police said.
‘This employee wanted to do so out of compassion for the dog and a desire to rehabilitate his health, albeit without the owner’s consent,’ Howell Police Detective Sergeant Christian Antunez told DailyMail.com.
Levy said goodbye to Caesar, 15, and left him in the care of vets. He is seen above before being dropped off
They never reported Caesar to an anti-animal cruelty body and instead kept him at their home, Antunez added.
For five months, Levy says she and her family remained under the impression that Ceasar had been put down until last week when she received an anonymous message that the dog was still alive.
She recontacted the hospital but Menez and Oliveira had already stopped working there. It is not clear whether they were fired or quit or if Levy’s case had prompted their departure.
Levy took her dog Ceasar to the Briarwood Veterinary Hospital in Howell, New Jersey, (above) to be put down in May. She found out on Sunday that he has been alive ever since and was living with Oliveira who no longer works there
After finding a phone number for him, she claims Menez admitted to giving the dog away, confirmed that he was still alive and gave her the name of the former colleague who had Ceasar.
Levy claims she passed Oliveira’s name along to police who then contacted the woman and told her to reunite the dog with its original owner.
Levy claims Cesar’s health had deteriorated drastically in the five months since she last saw him and took him to be euthanized at a different hospital.
Howell Police detectives say the dog was in ‘good spirits’ and there were no obvious signs of neglect.
Under the supervision of a different vet, Ceasar was finally put down on Monday.
The Monmouth County SPCA is investigating the incident.
An employee at Briarwood Veterinary Hospital who declined to be named refused to answer questions on the matter when contacted by DailyMail.com.
All they would say was that neither Menez nor the ‘other employee who was involved’ worked at the hospital any longer. Menez did not respond to questions.