Local News


Judge bites back after dying dog bites vet

Posted at 10:45 PM, Jun 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-28 16:10:32-04

A judge is criminally charged after her dying dog allegedly bites a veterinarian and the bizarre facts ignite a social media firestorm. 

Now, the judge is telling her story exclusively to Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.

Darcy Spears: Some people might look at this and say, "You know what? This stinks."
Melanie Tobiasson: Yeah. It does. I don't think you can look at it any other way.

The story begins on the last day of Cookie's life. The 13-year-old Dachshund, who'd been Judge Melanie Tobiasson's pet all her life, had cancer. 

Her family did all they could before the time came to relieve her suffering.

"I'm hysterical, my kids are hysterical," Tobiasson says of that day in early April.

They said their goodbyes and held Cookie in their arms.

"My doctor sat on the floor with me, explained to me how the procedure was going to work, started the procedure, and the door was open and she was pulled out and she was told that a doctor was bit and they had called animal control and they had ordered the procedure to be stopped."

The doctor Cookie reportedly bit is not their vet. Dr. Patricia Kyle is another vet at Town Center Animal Hospital who was inserting the catheter for the euthanasia drugs.

"And so at this moment, I go, where's the doctor? I want to see the bite," Tobiasson said. "It never happened."

Days later, she was able to get a picture of the reported bite -- a small abrasion on one knuckle -- from Animal Control.

But the day it happened, Dr. Kyle never came to see her, talk to her, or show her the wound. And during a 25-minute call from the clinic to Clark County Animal Control, Dr. Kyle never even came to the phone.

On the recording Contact 13 obtained, the receptionist says, "The doctors asked me to call you. We have a situation that is new to us."

Cookie had a lifetime of rabies vaccinations but the vet ordered them to be stopped when the dog was diagnosed with cancer. 

There's never been a case of rabies in a domestic animal in the state of Nevada, but the law requires a 10-day quarantine after a bite so the animal can be tested for rabies.

Cookie only had hours to live.

Another doctor -- again, not Cookie's vet -- gos on the phone with Animal Control and says, "So this is a situation... We have to euthanize this dog. This dog is suffering. It's breathing it's last breath."
Animal Control: That's not a problem.
Doctor: But the owner wants the ashes back. 

Testing a deceased dog for rabies means sending part of it to a lab to test the brain.

"I shouldn't have to turn my dog over to cut their head off and somebody's not going to at least say, your dog bit me and here's the proof!" Tobiasson said.

So she and her family took Cookie and left.

"I was completely mortified! My kids were hysterical. And we were all just completely like, what is happening here?!"

They had their pet euthanized elsewhere.

County records show the following day, Town Center Animal Hospital's director called Animal Control saying they "Wish to have the bite complaint dropped." 

But Animal Control didn't drop it. They took it to the District Attorney. And on June 23, Tobiasson was charged with two misdemeanor crimes: failure to report a bite and failure to confine a biting animal.

"What was done to us was horrific. And that fact that now, three months later, I have criminal charges filed against me is beyond comprehension."

We called Town Center Animal Hospital on Monday speak to Dr. Kyle but the receptionist said it was her day off. 

By the time we got a call back later that day, Kyle's picture and biography had been removed from the website and the clinic director said she no longer works there, but that it was a planned leave prior to the incident with Judge Tobiasson's dog.

As of Tuesday, morning, the D.A. dropped the charges against Melanie Tobiasson. 

She had to make a $700 donation to an animal rescue group.

And she'll have to self report to the Judicial Discipline Commission that criminal charges were filed against her.

The District Attorney's office sent a statement saying "This case was treated no differently than any other similarly situated case." 

A spokesperson for Animal Control said they followed procedure in responding to a bite report and followed state law as it relates to rabies testing. They believe the criminal charges were appropriate and the resolution was fair.