A Woman Took Her Dog To A Shelter To Be Euthanized. A Year Later, The Dog Is Up For Adoption Again.

Kristie Pereira and her dog Beau pose for a photo in Laurel, Md., in January 2023. Pereira is seeking answers after the sick dog she took to a shelter to have euthanized turned up more than a year later on a rescue adoption site. (Kristie Pereira via AP)
Kristie Pereira and her dog Beau pose for a photo in Laurel, Md., in January 2023. Pereira is seeking answers after the sick dog she took to a shelter to have euthanized turned up more than a year later on a rescue adoption site. (Kristie Pereira via AP)
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Exhausted and short on options after consulting two veterinary clinics, Kristie Pereira made the gut-wrenching decision last year to take her desperately ill puppy to a Maryland shelter to be euthanized.

So she was stunned last week to find the dog up for adoption at the same pet rescue organization where she had gotten it.

“I have a lot of questions, but first and foremost, I want him back with me,” Pereira told The Associated Press on Friday.

Pereira, who now lives in San Antonio, said she was working from home in Maryland when she paid $450 in late 2022 to adopt a 2-month-old hound mix from a local group, Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation.

She named the puppy Beau, and the two quickly became inseparable. Beau snuggled next to her as she worked, slept in her bed and even tagged along with her when Pereira would leave the house. But within weeks, it became clear something was wrong with the puppy, Pereira said.

A veterinarian concluded that the issue was most likely neurological. Blood tests did show the dog might have a liver problem, so Pereira was sent home with liver enzymes and told that she would “see improvement pretty fast” if Beau's liver was the issue.

The dog's condition only worsened. The dog's veterinarian, the clinic's lead veterinarian and an animal emergency room veterinarian all agreed the dog's inability to control his bowels and lift his hind legs pointed to a severe neurological problem, Pereira said.

The cost to run a series of tests to find out, she said, was quoted as high as $12,000. Despite the sticker shock, Pereira, 32, who works in digital marketing, said she would have found a way to pay it if it would save Beau.

Instead, she was told “there’s a very slim chance of finding what is wrong,” she recalled. “And even if we do, there's an even smaller chance of it being something that we can fix.”

That is when they began suggesting that it might be more humane to euthanize the puppy. She wasn't ready to consider that option, she said, and held out for another month.

Throughout all of it, Pereira said, she was consulting staff at Lost Dog & Cat Rescue.

“Honestly, I mean, after I talked to them is really when I felt, you know, that I was going to be doing the right thing by putting him down,” Pereira said. “They really gave me that support and that encouragement that, although it’s hard, sometimes that's the best thing to do.”

Following several sleepless nights with Beau clearly in pain, Pereira said she took Beau to Montgomery County Animal Services in Derwood, Maryland, in late March 2023 and paid $15 for him to be euthanized. She was told that the shelter's policy does not allow people to stay with their pets as they are put down.

It was during a visit to see her mother in Maryland last week that curiosity sent her to the rescue's website to check out dogs up for adoption — and spotted Beau's picture. The puppy was bigger but had the same markings and bore the name the rescue had given him before she adopted him: Amos Hart, based on a character in the musical “Chicago.”

Calls to the shelter confirmed that her dog had not been euthanized after veterinarians there didn't think he needed to be. The shelter instead called Lost Dog & Cat Rescue and turned the puppy back over to them.

The rescue confirmed that Friday in a written statement, giving an extensive timeline showing that its veterinarians found no neurological issues with the dog. After tests diagnosing a liver problem and a $7,000 surgery — paid for through a GoFundMe campaign — the dog was declared healthy.

None of it was shared with Pereira, who said Friday she would pay the $7,000 cost to get Beau back. It took several days for anyone at the rescue to return her calls, she said, and when they did, it was not anyone Pereira had talked with before.

“The person that called me was so rude and just disrespectful and just being really nasty towards me,” she said, breaking down in tears. “Just saying, you know, that I abandoned him, and that I left him to die. That I never cared about him.”

Pereira was told that the dog “will never go back to you." Then the person hung up.

Rescue spokesperson Chloe Floyd would not answer questions about whether someone at the rescue said those things to Pereira. But she defended the decision not to return the dog.

“LDCRF does not re-home an owner-surrendered dog with its former adopter/owner,” Floyd said in her written statement. “Our mission is to save adoptable and safe-to-the-community dogs from euthanasia.”

The rescue acknowledged that it had spoken to Pereira during her deliberation about whether to euthanize the puppy, but it said it had made clear to her the importance of taking the dog to a veterinarian that would allow her to be with the animal when it was euthanized. If she could not do that, it emphasized, the rescue would take the dog back.

The rescue and the shelter both faulted Pereira for not consenting to the extensive testing to see if it was suffering neurological issues.

Caroline Hairfield, executive director of Montgomery County Animal Services, said that it is bound by contract to return surrendered animals back to the rescue and that its hands are tied.

Hairfield said of Pereira that "everyone feels for her,” but that it's up to the rescue on whether it will return the dog to her.

“That’s a civil issue between the two of them,” she said. “We haven’t had the animal in our care for a year.”

The dog remained available for adoption Friday on the rescue's website.