CHARLESTON - A Kanawha County man has filed a suit against the City of Charleston, a humane officer and employees of a local veterinary hospital, claiming they took his dog and spayed her without his permission, and charged him with animal cruelty.

George Armes filed the suit May 29 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Sara Stevenson, an employee of Good Shepard Veterinary Hospital, Humane Officer Jesse Lee Harris, and Laurie "Doe," as well as the city.

According to the suit, Armes took his yellow Labrador Retriever, Cassie, to the Kanawha City Veterinary Hospital on May 22, 2007, where she was examined by Jerrold L. Swan. Swan told Armes of an obstruction, which would require surgery, "albeit not immediate," the suit says.

The surgery was estimated to cost $1,500, which Armes could not afford. He tried to get a loan, but was denied. Swan told Armes that he would perform the surgery if Armes could raise $500. Armes said he could pay after June 1, and the surgery was scheduled.

"At no time did Dr. Swan advise (Armes) surgery was necessary prior to the date upon which it was scheduled," the suit says.

However, before the surgery, Cassie escaped from her yard, when Laurie "Doe" found her and said she was going to take the dog to the veterinarian. Armes claims Cassie had tags on and that a child told Doe the home to which Cassie belonged, but she was still taken to the vet.

Cassie was taken to Good Shepard Veterinary Hospital where someone else, without Armes' permission, performed the surgery Armes had scheduled with Swan. Cassie was also spayed. Armes claims he was not allowed to see his dog and was told it was "cruel" not to spay Cassie.

Criminal proceedings were initiated against Armes, and he was accused of "Cruelty to Animals, No Dog License and Dog Unconfined/No Leash."

Armes was arrested Feb. 15, 2008, and placed on a $2,000 P.R. Bond, with the conditions that he not own a pet until the matter be resolved, and that he be fingerprinted and processed.

As of May 29, 2008, Armes had not seen his dog for one year.

Armes claims he has been wrongfully charged twice as a result of a flawed investigation, was cast in a false light and his dog was stolen. He seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as the return of his dog.

Attorney Henry Wood III is representing Armes. The case has been assigned to Judge Irene Berger.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 08-C-1023

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