Couple Sues Pfizer Over Dog's Drug Death

Lawsuit Blames Anti-Inflammatory Drug Rimadyl In Golden Retriever's Death

A Boulder couple has filed a civil lawsuit against Pfizer, saying their golden retriever died from the drug Rimadyl following surgery.

The couple's attorneys say Rimadyl, an anti-inflammatory drug, can be toxic to dogs and accused the pharmaceutical company of negligence for failing to notify pet owners of the potential risks.

In May 2009, Shelley Smith and Christopher Cooper took their dog Sophie to a Longmont veterinarian for treatment of a ruptured cranial cruciate ligament, or a tear in the knee.

Following surgery, the veterinarian prescribed several medications, including Rimadyl.

Eleven days after surgery, Sophie began experiencing symptoms described by two Pfizer corporate veterinarians as Rimadyl toxicity, according to the Animal Law Center, whose attorneys are representing Smith and Cooper.

Both Pfizer vets suggested hospitalization for the animal. Sophie was released after 13 days in the veterinary hospital, but the dog continued to suffer, the owner's attorneys said.

Sophie was admitted to the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital on July 9, 2009, where tests showed severe liver damage, the attorneys said. After trips back and forth to CSU for treatment, Sophie died on July 26.

"Conduct an Internet search, and you’ll find many websites devoted to pet owners sharing their stories of death or near-death experiences with their pets after taking Rimadyl," said Jennifer Edwards, a lawyer and founder of The Animal Law Center.

"Many animals do well on this drug, but you don’t know how your pet will react until it dies," she said. "We want Pfizer to conduct more research on this drug to determine its wide-ranging effects on all breeds."

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