A family on Long Island says they are being saddled with high veterinary bills after their dog was hit by a car. But it wasn't just any car: It was a Nassau County police car.
Now the family wants the county to pay up, but the county executive says their bills are not the county's problem.
John Graham said he felt helpless as he watched his 80-pound boxer named Daisy fly down Hudson Street in Long Beach earlier in October. It happened early in the morning, as the family's children were going to school. Daisy was on the front porch waiting to be put into the car, when she suddenly darted out into the street.
"It was just a huge screeching of the brakes right in front of me right in front my kids," said Graham. "I heard my kids scream right after the dog got hit, it was just, it was horrific."
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The family dog was struck by a Nassau County police department SUV. Graham raced Daisy, a 5-year-old emotional support service dog for his 12-year-old daughter with special needs, to the animal hosputal.
Nearly two weeks afterward, the pup still was struggling to stand up, walk or even just lay down due to all the injuries suffered.
"Internal bleeding, bruised ribs, punctured lung, liquid in (her) chest cavity and dislocated shoulder," said Jessica Talavera, Graham's ex-wife who has been watching Daisy 24 hours a day since the incident.
The dog is in pain, taking several medications and requires help throughout the day. The medical bills for her care are already near $13,000 — and the family believes Nassau County should foot the bill.
"It was an accident, I don’t want anybody to lose their job, but as far as these medical bills — I don’t think we should have to pay them," Graham said. "This cop was speeding in a school zone, she was in a Nassau County cop car in uniform. She shouldn’t have hit the dog."
The vet bills continue to mount, and when the cast Daisy has been wearing can come off after two months, she still might need an amputation if the leg is no longer viable.
"Why was she speeding? Why didn’t she file a police report? What’s going on? Was she not supposed to be here, is that why?" asked Talavera.
The Nassau Police Department wouldn't comment on that, but told NBC New York in part "the dog then jumped into the backseat of the caretaker’s vehicle, and it was believed at the time to have no injuries." The department also said that "a report has been filed with the department and it is in the early stages of the investigation."
In a statement, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said that "As a dog lover, I feel sorry for the injured dog and family, but this is a good time to remind all dog owners to keep their dogs on a leash."
Talavera wasn't buying the executive's comments.
"It’s also a good time to remind police officers to stay in their jurisdiction. It's a good time to remain police officers to not speed on a school zone street, and to file a police report especially when they are involved in an accident," she said.