Court Show Down over Show Dog

March 11, 2009 8:01:26 PM PDT
A courtroom showdown is underway in Downtown Fresno over a show dog. The owner of 6-year-old Sam, a Great Dane is claiming a local vet ruined the dog forever. Sam's owner calls the dog a great pet and a once valuable asset. She said the Great Dane was worth more than $80,000. But after taking Sam to a Selma vet, she said Sam's show career is over.

Jolene Degraef said, "Until the day he dies he will be my little boy, but that's it. Anything ...sorry." Degraef still gets emotional talking about 6-year-old Sam. Degraef hoped to make Sam the ultimate Great Dane. She said he already won many awards including national and international recognition. But Degraef claims those hopes were dashed by veterinarian Rodney Hatayama who works at a Selma animal hospital. Degraef testified she brought Sam to the hospital in November 2006 for a routine x-ray. During the process, Degraef said on the witness stand Sam suffered an internal and back injury- rendering the animal unsuitable for competition. Degraef said, "No strong gait. He favors one side over the other. He's weak. He wasn't that way before."

Hatayama is fighting the allegations. His attorney called veterinarian Lee Koch who said Sam suffered from a twisted liver. Koch testified that is an extremely rare condition and was not caused by Hatayama. Koch said, "I found nothing that would indicate anything done wrong by Doctor Hatayama." Koch said Sam's problems could have started because of a prior surgery. The case is not being presented to a jury. A judge is the one who will ultimately decided if the Selma vet did something wrong to end Sam's days in the spotlight.

Degraef said she is out a lot of money from winnings and breeding Sam. Testimony is continuing Thursday morning. The case is expected to be submitted to the judge by the end of this week.

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