ONLY ON 3: Wilmington couple sues over value of dog’s life

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Submitted: Thu, 01/26/2012 - 4:44am
Updated: Tue, 02/21/2012 - 4:49pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A Wilmington couple is fighting for the worth of their dog that died in 2007. State officials say the pet is worth the cost of replacing it. The couple says their dog Laci, was much more than a piece of property.

They called Laci their baby girl. Herb and Nancy Shera’s Jack Russell terrier was part of their family. In 2007 Laci died after veterinarians at NC State inserted a feeding tube in her trachea instead of her esophagus.

Since then the couple has been fighting a battle with the state, which says Laci is only worth $350, which is the cost of replacing her. The Sheras’ attorney argues they are entitled to more than $28,000, which was the cost of Laci’s cancer treatments at NC State.

The Sheras believe the law is outdated and hope what they’re doing will help to change it.

“This is not about money,” Nancy Shera said. “This is about justice for Laci, awareness and hopefully to change the law so that no other family or pet has to go through this.”

The Sheras’ case made it to the state Court of Appeals yesterday, but a decision is not expected for a couple of months.


  • Guest Pepper says:

    We remember today & celebrate…. July the 4th. Laci’s family remembers it is Laci’s birthday. She was tragically taken from them by the Vet school years ago, and she is missed terribly each day.
    Yes, July 4th for the “Miss Independence” Laci, “beloved companion” that has made a big difference, in how our pets are to be treated in the future. Her case made a statement. What a gift she was / is to her family and so many others.

  • Guest327 says:

    If they spent $28,000 on the dog and the veterinarian made a mistake that killed the animal, the owners are due their money back. End of story.

  • Guest461 says:

    …and well understand that the NCSU Vet school is a wonderful institution and never intended to hurt that dog. Even Duke University Medical Center amputated the wrong foot of a fellow (plus other FUBARs you don’t even know about), then we’ll go to other prominent hospitals that treat human beings. We all know what the insertion of feeding tubes usually insinuates with humans, much less dogs…they’re on their last leg and this is the final method getting nutrition to them, they simply cannot eat on their own. A risky exercise in futility that usually gains little time.

    I’m sorry for your pet and your anguish, but sometimes things go wrong and Lacie has had a lot of care. I understand your plight…just be fair about the whole thing, get yourself a new best friend, move forward and keep Lacie in your thoughts. It was your choice to spend $28k on a $0.4k dog and I’m quite sure they informed you of the risks/potential results. Are you REALLY surprised as you state?

    The NCSU School of Veterinary Medicine does great things for animals. I for one, being a very grateful owner of a dear patient of theirs, such as you, would like to see that continue. Your “emotional lawsuit” will only inhibit that.

  • GuestReality says:

    It doesn’t matter if NC State vets “never intended to hurt that dog”. It was pure negligence on their part. If it had happened at a human hospital, and they had placed a feeding tube in a human’s trachea instead of their esophagus, would it have carried more weight with you?

    Negligence is negligence. Lacie’s life was cut short, and her owners have experienced, and will continue to experience, pain and anguish because of her passing. NC State should pay, and they should make certain it never happens again at their facility.

  • GuestGrateful says:

    My mother was on a feeding tube the last 3 years of her life, but we were grateful for every extra second it gave us with her. She was on her “last leg” too, but she chose to fight to stay with us and enjoy the extra time together. I wouldn’t take anything for those extra years; they were some of our best times together.

    “A risky exercise in futility that usually gains little time.” Indeed. Comments like yours make me want to puke, expecially the part about the “emotional lawsuit”. After I read posts like yours, I sometimes wonder who’s the human, and who’s the animal.

  • Guest1978 says:

    I agree with them. I have 3 dogs that are part of my family. While they are not as important as my kids, they are definately worth more than the money we paid for them. Not to mention all the money it takes to raise a dog responsibly.

  • julie says:

    a feeding tube in her trachea? seriously? what kind of vet wannabe was THAT? whatever Lacie’s owners feel is right, is right by me. having five dogs of my own…i know you couldnt replace any of them at any cost. and a stupid mistake would make it all the worse.

    deepest condolances and RIP Lacie

  • dog lover says:

    Hope you’re not a pet owner. If this case is won, the cost of pet care will increase very substantially.

  • Guest777 says:

    signature here :)

  • Guest3369 says:

    I agree with them. Get a petition going maybe? I’ll surely sign it!

  • 1horreur says:

    A pet is MUCH MORE than a piece of property. These people paid so much to save their dog because she was a part of their family, as much so as any person. This is one thing that is wrong with animal/human relations; thinking that an animal is property. They are living beings that any normal person grows an attachment to and creates a loving, trusting relationship with. I hope that they get every penny they are seeking and that those responsible have to pay for their negligence. They are supposed to be trained professionals and this level of mistake is more than unacceptable. Vets gouge people on costs anyway, and these need to be federally regulated. But to cost you a family member… they should pay. I wish I would have sought damages last year when the vet gave my cat too much medicine, causing her to never wake up. You are DOCTORS. You are supposed to heal, not harm. Good luck to all victims in this case.

  • guesty says:

    Yes please, put what a veterinarian doctor charges under federal regulations and wait to see how much the price will go up. The vet will have to hire a government compliance person to make sure they are following all guidelines. I don’t trust the government to tie their own shoes yet you want them involved (more than they already are) in a private business? If you feel you are paying too much for veterinarian care, you have choices. Don’t own a pet you can’t afford, shop around, skip the treatments or go to school, pass all the exams, undertake the expenses and become a veterinarian yourself. I don’t remember it being a requirement nor a right to own a pet.

  • Das Weibstück says:

    How old was this dog? They spent 28K on vet care for a dog? Wow, how much did this dog suffer during cancer treatments? It amazes me how far humans go to save a pet even though the pet suffers. I get that they loved their dog but 28K dollars for a pet is ridiculous. We have that much cash to spend as well, but on a pet? No way. I would have put the dog out of its misery.

  • urabigmouth says:

    I think it’s safe to say that anyone that has $28,000 to spend on their pet is more than likely not on welfare or living on anyone else’s dollar. Therefore, it’s their money to spend as they please and none of your concern. And actually animals fare much better during chemo than people do so I’m not exactly sure how you know how much the animal suffered or was in misery. And just like with people, some chemos do not have the harsh effect as others so unless you were there how do you know how much suffering the animal went thru? Sorry but i just hate people running their mouths when they don’t know what they are talking about.

  • Guest461 says:

    The majority of people live for only days after feeding tube insertion. I’ll bet that was a really nice sight to watch you mother lie there, totally immobile with a feeding tube down her throat…for YEARS. Best times? Why was that? Did it give you an opportunity to make up for the way you treated her growing up? YOU tell ME who is the human and who is the animal? Ever heard of a DNR to eliminate pain and suffering for someone you REALLY love? You say you were grateful for “…every extra second…” it gave you with her? Well, what about HER seconds, minutes an hours she lied there all by herself, in the middle of the night…alone, without even the simple ability to talk? And you think THAT to be humane? The world is full of opinions, and you certainly have yours…

    The fact is, after $28,000.00 of cancer treatment, that poor animal could not even eat and was likely close to dying as it was. Sometimes the effort, albeit gallant to save them, results in an extension of pain, discomfort and even cruelty to the patient. Mistakes, misdiagnoses, flubbed surgeries and incompetent doctors occur every day on human beings and I assure you, you haven’t a clue to the frequency and the behind the curtain cover up to avoid responsibility. Don’t forget, I’m talking about HUMANS here not animals! Practicing medicine is not perfect, or are the people that do it, hence the term “practice”.

    The NCSU vet school clearly admitted their negligence and agreed to buy them a new dog, that’s all they are responsible for. I’m not here to debate with you regarding the sensitive topics of “quality of life” or “pain and immobility vs. gaining a few extra heartbeats”. Laci’s owners chose to pay out $28,000.00 of cancer treatment on a $300.00 dog. No matter the outcome of that very risky treatment, it’s still a $300.00 dog. And I consider that effort to be emotional as well. Either they had way too much money to spend or they simply didn’t have the common sense to know when to throw in the towel. Either way, it was THEIR decision and THEIR risk! The vast maority of people, including myself as an avid animal lover, would exhibit the common sense method and simply deal with our emotions on an adult level. Now, I’m going to watch Laci’s owners payout another several thousand dollars to an overzealous and “comforting” attorney, waste the courts time and walk away with their $350.00 prize. Won’t you join me?

  • Guest Lee says:

    You’re a real *sshole. There was absolutely NO reason to tear someone apart like that simply because they disagreed with you.

    There was obviously some kind of communication going on to the point where both the poster AND the mother thought it was worth it. Who are we to judge what that family went through and the decisions they made together?

    Your first paragraph was as vicious as they get. I hope payback comes up and bites you in the *ss….hard.

  • Guest55555 says:

    Who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying.

  • GuestKarma says:

    That was a dispicable thing to say to someone who has been through that kind of experience with their mother. You didn’t walk in their shoes, and you sure don’t know what went on behind the scenes. You could have disagreed with them and stated your reasons why in a logical and straightforward manner, but instead you decided to incinerate them with words of bitterness and hostility. You have no heart. Payback’s gonna be a b*tch.

  • Guestofferson says:

    …and I happen to agree with most of his/her comments. Besides, I was taught that before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them, you’re a mile away AND you have their shoes!

    Remember…the article was about a dog, not anyone’s mother! Not really sure why that even had to come into play with the dialogue here. There are far more idiots with posts here than I thought. You qualify as well!

    Karma works both ways!

  • Guest Petey Pepper says:

    First of all you make many comments about these people and what they lived , but where are the FACTS to back them up? Were you there? From my understanding, and all the info I have read, Laci was cancer FREE and had been for YEARS. The feeding tube incident ( HORRIFIC ) was due to a misdiagnosis by the vet school, for a very treatable issue. There was NO cancer involved. You seem to know the vet school so well, there is more than one dept. , right? Think about it.
    So before you make wrong comments, I suggest you know your FACTS.

  • Guest461 says:

    …but facts are facts and better to be a jerk than a jerk-off, right? First of all, I’ve watched my mother lay in the hosptial with feeding tubes/breathing assist equipment keeping her mouth half open and fully understand the impact of that. I can’t fathom that sort of anguish, pain and discomfort to continue for years on end.

    It is unfortunate that someone decided to use an unfortunate and unlikely human situation in comparison to that of a dog and attack me at the same writing. That was much more than a simple disagreement. In addition, I’ve witnessed far too many cancer situations with family, friends and animals that have resulted in a slow death, so wish me up all of the hate and whatever else you want you want to dish out brave guy. I’ve seen more than you can possibly imagine on your darkest day!

    Just to clarify one major point here, sidehack. I have never even paid $300.00 for a dog. I’ve done rescues of several animals that deperately needed homes and good masters to care for them. Two of those rescues wound up as patients of the NCSU vet school where I spent several thousand dollars on them. I have never encountered a more professional and astute organization that cares for animals, BAR NONE!

  • GuestKarma says:

    The article was about a dog, but his comments were viciously directed toward a guy and his dying mother. That’s about as low as you can go. If you had read the post above his, you would have known that. If you don’t read everything pertaining to a particular post, you’re only getting half of the information. It shows in your post by your idiotic comments. Go back to school and take learning comprehension again. Sounds like you failed that subject first time around.

    Mark Twain once said, “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.” In you case, and the Guest 461’s case, there would have been no doubt. You both fit in the latter.

  • Guest Lee says:

    You’re not the only one who’s ever faced a tragic situation with their mother. Mine laid on her death bed too, for over a year dying of oral cancer with blood oozing out of the side of her mouth while trying to recover from a previous stroke and heart by-pass. We all have sob stories. I faced mine my way, you faced yours your way. But you shouldn’t castrate someone who chose to face it a different way, just because it doesn’t agree with your opinion about a vet school. What you said was cruel and thoughtless. You can’t know someone or their situation through a short 10 sentence post.

    I could care less what you think about the vet school. We’re all entitled to our opinions. I only got involved because of your diarreah of the mouth to the other poster about his mother, and I stick to what I said. I used to think that you were a big pain in the neck. Now I have a much lower opinion of you.

  • Guest461 says:

    …you ramble with vengence, wrestle with the truth and stumble over the facts. Here my challenged one, let me help you:


    You see Lee…this is all very simple! Apologies for the use of all caps, but I wanted you to be able to read it clearly. Oh, and by the way, to add even more clarity, I don’t give a flyin’ rat’s hind-end WHAT your opinion consists of OR how much your withered little neck hurts!

  • GuestKarma says:

    “I’ve seen more than you can possibly imagine on your darkest day!”

    Yeah! Karma really DOES work! I knew it! I’ve got a feelin your in for a lot more too judgeing from all your nasty posts and your outlook on life and people.

    Mean people such as yourself are like slinkys. They aren’t good for much, but you just can’t help but smile when one falls down the stairs.

  • GuestNope says:


    Actually, Guest 461, YOU were the first one to bring up the comparison of humans and animals, not Guest Lee.

    And I quote you: “We all know what the insertion of feeding tubes usually insinuates with humans, much less dogs…they’re on their last leg.” YOU mentioned it BEFORE Guest Lee. If I had a family member who had been on a feeding tube and died and read that, I would have been upset too.

    NOW whose stumbleing over the facts and wrestleing with the truth?

  • guesty says:

    Tables and chairs do need treatments and it is called repair. That is part of the reason there are hardware stores and carpenters. And animals do not have the same rights as humans. Now I’m not advocating animal cruelty but you have to use some commonsense.

  • Deonca Williams says:

    28,000 is reasonable. They should actually get more. If animals are “property” then why are there veterinarians? A table and a chair don’t need medical treatment. Animals have the same rights as humans. In fact, biologically speaking we are all animals. If the veterinarians at NC State were stupid enough to put a feeding tuube in the wrong pipe, then they don’t have a leg to stand on.

  • Guest, just another says:

    How is a dog more than property. If you want a good one, you purchase it. You license it, you register it. Nothing more than a vehicle.

    Sure, they’re smart, intelligent animals. They “love”, although they’re pack animals, they’d love anyone in the pack that “loves” back. I use parenthesis because a dog doesn’t know love, its instinct is pack “emotion” or bond.

    Those of you that argue, vehemently, that they’re not property are just letting your emotions run wild. Get the pun? Really, you’re just the dog version of the “cat lady”, just as crazy, just alot louder.

    Bring it on crazies.

  • Guest Pepper says:

    YOU sound like a COLD blooded NUT!!!!! YOU are just PITIFUL……. YES, a dog does know LOVE. They have a heart, they know who cares for them, TRULY. So many companion animals help so many people in tremendous ways. GIVE them their dues!! AND listen up……YOU are the CRAZIE!!!!!

  • GuestThankful says:

    I spent about $1,000 on one of my pets a couple of years ago for a severe illness. It was worth every penny. At the time, he was at death’s door, and we could have easily lost him that very day. Today, he is alive, happy, and looks better than he did prior to starting the treatments.

    Unfortunately, there is no cure, but his quality of life is greatly improved, and it has prolonged his life. We have had 2 extra years now of loving him and creating extra memories that will last a lifetime. Eventually, he will die from the disease, but when he goes I will know I did everything within my power to extend his life and make his last days worth living. He’s part of my family. I can’t imagine having done anything differently than the way I did.

  • Ken says:

    I lost my poodle of 15 years several years ago to a Brain tumor. I spent on his medical needs with the ease I spent on my daughters illnesses. He was just as much a part of our family as our daughter. I can say that it is easy for people that are not pet lovers to condem the expenditure of large sums of money by pet owners to treat their animals. They are a part of the family. They don’t complain for the most part. All I can say is you have to have a pet as a member of your family to understand paying for Health Insurance on them or to pay for their medical expenses.

    Besides, how do you tell your daughter that took care of her best buddy for 15 years starting when she was at the age of six. I don’t think any fatherr can look at his baby girl and tell her thatthe poodle she raised for many years is sick so we will just let him go because he is only a dog or cat or any other kind of family pet.

    Oh yes, when we travelled, the dog did not travel on top of the car. He had his own seat right next to our daughter.

  • paula plarre says:

    there is no price tag on the value of a pet. when you open your home & heart to a pet they bcome part of your family & there is no dollar value on that. they are helpless & depend on you for their lives & this couple gave their all to help this beautiful pet. they trusted their pet to the n.c. veterinary hospital & they carelessly killed her & that demands attention so this will not happen again.

  • Guest Petey says:

    You are so right, you expressed your comments so appropriately. We as a pet ower, pray no other “family member” has to endure what Laci did. What happened to Laci at the Vet School is totally unacceptable. The Vet School needs to be held accountable.

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