Some “mistakes” are just unimaginable.
A New Jersey pet parent is currently coming to terms with a devastating discovery, five months after the fact.
According to NJ.com, Keri Levy had already received heartbreaking news once, when a veterinarian told her that Ceasar, her family’s beloved 15-year-old miniature pinscher, needed to be put down due to a chronic health condition called Cushing’s disease, an endocrine disorder. Ceasar had been suffering a while, so when Dr. George Menez allegedly told her the dog ought to be euthanized “due to his declining health,” she believed it was in Ceasar’s best interest.
Levy sadly left her pup at Briarwood Veterinary Hospital in Howell, New Jersey. She said she even received a phone call later that night telling her that Ceasar was “at peace” and instructing her to come back to pick up his collar.
That’s why Levy was understandably shocked when she got an anonymous tip — five months later — that her dog was still alive and living with a former employee of Briarwood Veterinary Hospital.
“Awful, just awful,” Levy told NJ.com, describing the past few days for her and her family. “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?”
Levy notified the Howell Police Department about her stolen dog, and the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is also investigating the incident.
The police said in a statement that the employee who took Ceasar “wanted to do so out of compassion for the dog and a desire to rehabilitate his health, albeit without the owner’s consent.”
In the meantime, Levy returned to Briarwood Veterinary Hospital to try to get some answers. The new vet in charge, Dr. Maureen Kubisz, helped the woman figure out what had happened to Ceasar.
“Dr. Kubisz was like an angel to me,” said Levy. “She got me through the day.”
Turns out, Dr. Menez had been let go. Levy got him on the phone and he admitted Ceasar was never put down, and that he was living with the other former employee. Levy immediately called that woman, who promptly returned the dog.
Although their reunion was heartfelt, is was brief. Ceasar had lost 10 lbs., was still ailing and hadn’t received any medical treatment over those five months. Levy and her mother had him checked out again by another vet, spent about an hour saying goodbye to him and finally had the poor dog euthanized.
PEOPLE reached out to Briarwood Veterinary Hospital, but there is no comment yet.