Dog dies during ear cleaning at MI animal clinic; owners considering legal action

STURGIS, MI (WNDU/Gray News) - A Michigan couple, who says they thought of their 2-year-old German shepherd like their child, is demanding justice after the dog died while getting his ears cleaned, WNDU reports.

German shepherd Rocky, 2, went to get his ears cleaned at Fawn River Animal Clinic in Sturgis, MI, but at some point during the procedure, he died.

"It was very shocking to us, as we had no clue that there was even a possibility of death," said Rocky's owner, Ashton Sutton. "They never explained anything to us. And the call, it dropped my heart; my heart sank."

German shepherd Rocky, 2, died while getting his ears cleaned at a Sturgis, MI, animal clinic. (Source: Ashton Sutton/WNDU/CNN)
German shepherd Rocky, 2, died while getting his ears cleaned at a Sturgis, MI, animal clinic. (Source: Ashton Sutton/WNDU/CNN) (Source: Ashton Sutton/WNDU/CNN)

Sutton says it was devastating news for him and his fiancée.

"It's very hard, as me and my fiancée can't have children," he said. "So, that was our baby that passed away on the table."

The animal clinic says during the procedure, Rocky wouldn’t calm down, so they had to use an anesthetic called Xylazine. They say the amount they gave him wouldn’t have been enough to kill a dog of his size.

But after the anesthetic was administered, Rocky started having issues breathing, so the animal clinic gave him more Xylazine, which didn’t help. They then used Dopram to help him breathe and Tolazine to reverse the effects of the other drugs.

"I didn't give him anything that should have been close to an overdose for his size," said Fawn River Animal Clinic owner John Lindamood.

While Rocky’s autopsy is still in progress, Lindamood says the dog most likely reacted poorly to the anesthesia.

"Could have been allergies or could have just been the anesthetic results, too," Lindamood said. "I got a lot of them, and sometimes, anesthetics will just – you just can't predict the darn stuff."

The dog's owner says he and his fiancée want justice for Rocky and for the clinic to be shut down. (Source: Ashton Sutton/WNDU/CNN)
The dog's owner says he and his fiancée want justice for Rocky and for the clinic to be shut down. (Source: Ashton Sutton/WNDU/CNN) (Source: Ashton Sutton/WNDU/CNN)

Lindamood says there was also a legal issue related to the incident because a staff member didn’t get a signature on an essential waiver.

"People come in, and we tell them what we're going to do and what the risk is and everything else," Lindamood said. "But the woman that made it out didn't have anybody sign it, so I don't know. So, she's not working here anymore."

Rocky’s death has left Sutton and his fiancée upset enough that they are looking into legal action against Lindamood and the clinic.

"I would have rather had his ear not being cleaned than my dog dying on the table. That dog was one of my children,” said Sutton's fiancée in a recording the couple took while talking to Lindamood.

Lindamood says he wants Sutton to know he is sorry that his dog died.

"Tell him I'm sorry," he said. "It's killing me about as much as it's killing him.”

Sutton says he and his fiancée want justice for Rocky and for the clinic to be shut down.

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