What to Know
- Keri Levy says her family made the difficult decision in May to euthanize their beloved pup because it was suffering
- The vet office told her the procedure had been done but a tipster later called and said the dog was still alive
- The employee who took the dog no longer works at the hospital (it came under new mgmt) and faces one charge of animal cruelty
A New Jersey veterinary tech who allegedly took a woman's sick dog that was supposed to be euthanized and kept the suffering animal alive for five months without the owner's knowledge now faces a charge of animal cruelty.
Andrea Oliveira, a former employee of Briarwood Veterinary Hospital in Howell, faces one count of animal cruelty in the case of Caesar, a 15-year-old miniature pinscher, the Monmouth County SPCA said Monday.
The development in the case was first reported by NJ.com.
The saga began in May, when Caesar's owner, Keri Levy, told NJ.com her family decided to euthanize their beloved pup after a veterinarian said the dog was suffering from a debilitating endocrine disorder typically caused by tumors.
Levy said the Howell veterinarian's office even called her after the alleged procedure to say Caesar was "at peace" and that she could pick up his collar. But after a call from a tipster at the vet's office, she found out that someone, allegedly Oliveira, at the office had taken Caesar home, never even providing the pup with any care for its condition.
"Awful, just awful," Levy told NJ.com earlier this month. "Imagine having to tell a 9-year-old and a 10-year-old this. My 9-year-old was like, 'When can I see him?'"
She said she confronted the practice, asking for a cremation receipt or any other records showing that Caesar had been put down. When the owner of the clinic -- who had bought the practice from the vet who originally claimed to have put down Caesar -- didn't have any answers, she called police and the SPCA.
She wrote that the original vet clinic owner called her a short time later, telling her that Caesar was still alive and living with a woman who used to work at the office.
Police eventually got involved and brought Caesar back to the hospital, where the dog was euthanized after a brief reunion with Levy, according to NJ.com.
Howell Police Detective Sgt. Christian Autunez said in a statement earlier this month that the employee took Caesar home "out of compassion for the dog and a desire to rehabilitate his health, albeit without the owner's consent."
Autunez said at the time that the dog did not appear to have been neglected over the five months it was with the employee.
No charges were filed against the vet who was running the practice at the time the dog was taken. Attorney information for Oliveira wasn't immediately available.