Josh Gomez wants his dog, Pilot, back, but he says that his veterinarian is keeping his dog hostage.
Pilot’s veterinarian, Garry Innocent, said Gomez has a $974 bill that he needs to pay or he will send Pilot to the shelter, where this black puppy could be euthanized.
Innocent said if that does happen, it would be Gomez’s fault because he simply needs to pay his bill to get his dog back.
Currently, Pilot is in the animal hospital, and he is scheduled to go to an animal shelter on Tuesday.
Gomez, a music teacher, has filed a lawsuit in Gwinnett Superior Court, Georgia to prevent Innocent and PetFIRST animal hospital from sending his dog to an animal shelter.
In the suit, he said he paid the clinic $1,125 to treat his dog for a virus. He said this was the agreed upon price. Gomez said then the clinic added extra charges that he couldn’t afford.
Gomez also added in the lawsuit that Innocent and PetFIRST said “they intended to dispose of his pet up to and including euthanization.”
Innocent argued that he never specifically told Gomez that his dog might be euthanized.
The veterinarian said that when Gomez brought Pilot into the hospital, he told him that it would at least cost $1,400 to treat the dog. Innocent stated when Gomez returned a few days later, the fee had increased to $1,640 for treating and boarding Pilot. The unpaid bill continues to grow because of the $27 a day boarding fee for Pilot while he is still there.
In Georgia, veterinarians can legally hold pets when owners do not pay their bills. If an owner does not pay the bill within 10 days of receiving a demand for payment, the animal is declared “abandoned.” The pet can be sold, given away or sent to a shelter and euthanized.
Innocent said thousands of pets in Georgia are abandoned at animal hospitals and “get put to sleep because of owners like this jerk. It is carnage. While the law cracks down on Michael Vick for dog abuse, nothing gets done about Joe Schmo for this kind of abuse. We don’t want to put this dog to sleep.”
A Georgia Veterinary Medical Association spokesperson said that it is extremely hard for veterinarians to dispose of abandoned animals. He said that most of the veterinarians are torn between deciding to run a business and doing what’s right by the animal.
Gomez’s lawyer said this Georgia law is unconstitutional because animal hospitals and veterinarians are able to take a person’s pet without due process.
Gomez said he would be extremely heartbroken if Pilot was euthanized. He said he has already put $400 on his girlfriend’s credit card and took out a $750 loan from his boss to pay the animal hospital.
He said he will continue to fight to bring his beloved dog home.
UPDATE: Earlier this week, Innocent said he will not bring Pilot to the shelter because of complaints and a warning from Gomez’s attorney. Instead, he will give the dog to one of his clients who wants to adopt him.