20 Animals Seized from Ames Home After Pet Owner Allegedly Performed Surgery on Dog

AMES, Iowa  --  On Friday, 20 animals were taken from an Ames home, where police say a dog owner tried to perform surgery on her pet, which later died.

"I just can't imagine, I mean, the suffering that the dog would have gone through, it's sickening."

"Unbelievable" and "wrong" are words dog owner Dan Parsons uses to describe how he feels about what his neighbor, Sarah McMenamin, is accused of doing: performing surgery on a two and a half month old puppy.

Sarah and her husband would not comment when Channel 13 reporter Mike DaSilva knocked on their door. But according to the criminal complaint and affidavit filed in court, when police showed up at the house on June 1st, McMenamin admitted that morning she cut open her living dog with a paring knife and tongs in order to retrieve a bowel obstruction.

"She had a dog that clearly was having a medical problem, that was not acting as it should so, she took it to VetMed, the veterinary college, they took a look at the dog, did an examination, and they said it probably required surgery," said Geoff Huff with the Ames Police Department.

The surgery would have been expensive.

"It would have been a couple of thousand dollars probably to do that, at that time she said she didn't have the ability to pay and was going to take the dog home, make an appointment with a private vet to have the dog euthanized," said Huff.

But she never showed up for that appointment. Police say instead she decided to take matters into her own hands--a decision a local vet says was more than just dangerous.

"Dangerous doesn't even begin to explain what it is. It's cruel," said Donna Rizzo, a veterinarian with the Pet Medical Center of Ames. "When we do surgeries on animals, we totally anesthetize them so they have no idea what's happening, and then we wake them up very slowly, and even when they're waking up we give them pain relievers for after the surgery, and so I couldn't imagine being able to do surgery on something wide awake."

The other animals removed from the home include dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, and geckos. Ames Animal Shelter officials say the animals were living in terrible conditions, and the shelter is now taking donations to help with the influx of animals. The shelter normally only cares for cats and dogs.

Police say they checked on McMenamin's home after someone noticed she made a social media post offering to dog-sit at her home. McMenamin bonded out of the Story County Jail last week. She is now charged with animal neglect, and her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday.