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Owners of Euthanized Dog May File Lawsuit

Allen and Alison Holmes, of Occoquan, lost their 17-year-old dog Basie when she was euthanized without their permission at Crosspointe Animal Hospital in Fairfax Station.

The owners of a dog euthanized on Nov. 1 without their consent said Nov. 13 they have not yet decided whether they will pursue legal action at this time.

Allen and Alison Holmes, of Occoquan, lost their 17-year-old dog Basie when she was euthanized at Crosspointe Animal Hospital in Fairfax Station.

According to WUSA-9, Basie was out in the backyard on Nov. 1 without her collar because her collar irritated her neck. Allen checked on her every few minutes.

"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 wash basin. I thought that was cute. She did have trouble moving but she was able to walk."

He snapped a picture of her drinking from the wash basin at 12:06 p.m. When he came back 15 minutes later, she was gone.

A client of Crosspointe picked Basie up and took her straight to the animal hospital, saying she found her in the woods and she thought she was a stray. Basie was euthanized at Crosspointe later that afternoon. The Holmes found her cremated body at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter the next day.

Crosspointe would not comment further on the euthanization.

"The animal hospital told us themselves that they decided for humane reasons that the dog should be put down," Alison said. "They did say that they had to ask the shelter for permission."

According to Virginia Code § 3.2-6507, a licensed veterinarian who encounters a sick or injured dog may euthanize the dog without the owner's permission.

Since the Crosspointe client had told the animal hospital that Basie was from McKenzie Drive in Occoquan, Crosspointe contacted the Prince William County Animal Shelter and asked them to come pick the dog up, Allen said. Prince William County refused, he added.

"What gets me is the time that they decided to euthanize her," Allen said. "I took a picture of her at 12:06 p.m. The shelter had her body at 3 p.m. I hold the vet responsible."

The Crosspointe managers have refused to talk to Allen or Alison.

"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 said.

"We had no chance of finding her in that time," Alison said. "When we did find her, it was only because of our tireless searching. No one called us."

The hospital has not released the name of the person who picked Basie up.

Alison said that Basie was a very slow-moving dog, and it was unlikely that she could have wandered very far off the property in only a few minutes time.

Allen said that the few rows of trees near their farmhouse could hardly count as woods.

"The shelter knew she was from McKenzie Drive. If the person picked her up from our street, it must have been within a block of our house," Allen said. "It certainly could have been a person who thought they were helping her. She was a bag of bones, no denying that. But she was still alert and responsive, according to the vet."

Alison recalled a visitor who stopped by the farmhouse a few months ago to ask if Basie belonged to them.

"She was really worried about Basie. She pulled over and tried to give her food and water in the yard," she said. "I said, 'Thanks for your concern; we love her, we adore her, she's just really old."

Allen said that they fed her only the highest quality dog food.

"We really took care of her," he said.

Allen and Alison are left with their memories.

Allen first got Basie, a Corgi / Border Collie mix, almost 17 years ago.

"A woman was selling puppies out of a trailer in Centreville," Allen said. "She was extremely smart and well-behaved. I never really needed a leash with her, and only used one when required by law to do so. One of my fondest memories was when she was lying in the yard, and I would call her to come in, and she would sort of sink into the ground like Border Collies do."

Alison called her a great mediator, saying that she could interact well with any dog they met.

"She was just a delightful dog," Allen said. "We wanted to be there if she was euthanized. We didn't feel like it was quite the time, but somebody else did."

How do you think the animal hospital and the shelter should have handled this situation? Respond in the comments.

Sue November 25, 2011 at 06:35 AM
Owner neglect? Are you kidding me? Anyone who lovingly takes care of their dog and she is 17 YEARS OLD is hardly neglectful. The vet was irresponsible in not allowing ample time for someone to find her. Vets are not shelters. This dog should have gone to a shelter so the owner could find him. If they didn't have the decency to do that, they should have tried a little harder to find the owners and kept the dog there. I am sure they had an empty cage or two most likely. You don't euthanize a lost dog like that unless it is in horrible pain from being hit by a car or something and cannot be treated. This dog was not in pain. What a quack vet. He is 100% to blame for such a low level standard of care of the very basic of trying to locate a dog's owner. Pitiful.
Susan Deming November 25, 2011 at 01:57 PM
I agree with most of you about the owner being responsible...BUT QUIT PICKING UP DOGS YOU "THINK" ARE STRAYS!!! Our Siberian Husky got out and was stolen when she was ten feet from my front yard and was attempting to COME HOME! She was stolen by an off duty worker for a rescue/shelter. We never found her....BUT when we confronted a group that said they were a "no-kill shelter" we discovered they had not only HAD her but HAD NOT attempted to locate her owner (me) and had already adopted her out AND REFUSED TO RETURN HER AFTER THEY HAD STOLEN HER IN THE FIRST PLACE...to top it all off SHE HAD A COLLAR AND TAGS ON WHEN THEY TOOK HER!
Susan McCauley November 25, 2011 at 11:48 PM
Lots of commenters seem to enjoy making righteous condemnation of the family/owners/guardians of a beloved 17 year dog! That's neither respectable nor intelligent nor compassionate.
Susan McCauley November 25, 2011 at 11:51 PM
Agreed.
Clinton O'Brien November 28, 2011 at 01:45 PM
FYI, the Care2 petition that is fueling public outcry about this sad event is now up to more than 46,000 signers: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/435/justice-for-basie-stop-euthanizing-animals-in-fairfax-county/

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