June 07--O'FALLON, Mo. -- Like many people who own dogs, Rose and Randy Lakey considered their Great Dane, Oreo, a member of the family.
So, when Oreo stopped breathing and collapsed on Easter Sunday evening, Rose Lakey called 911.
Authorities said that during the call, she said her daughter collapsed. Lakey, 47, said she told the dispatcher her dog collapsed, but later in a panic used the term daughter. Emergency workers thought they were rushing to save a child.
"I honestly did not call trying to lie to them," she said.
Lakey was ticketed by the city of O'Fallon for making a false report. On Wednesday, she pleaded guilty in municipal court and paid a $100 fine.
Lakey said paying $100 made more sense than hiring a lawyer to fight the charge and face a possible $1,000 fine.
On the evening of April 8, Oreo, who weighed 140 pounds, collapsed after returning from a walk.
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The Lakeys performed CPR on the dog. Police and an ambulance arrived at the Lakeys' home with lights on and sirens blaring.
When a paramedic entered the room and saw what was going on, Rose Lakey said the woman threw her hands up in the air and said, "It's just a dog."
A police officer also came inside, and told the Lakeys he thought they were responding to a sick child.
"We didn't understand why they were saying all that," Rose Lakey said.
The workers helped the Lakeys wrap Oreo in a blanket and carry her to their car. The Lakeys drove her to an emergency animal clinic, but it was too late.
Oreo had surgery to remove a tumor a few weeks prior to the incident, and Rose Lakey suspects Oreo collapsed from a blood clot.
Ambulance workers later came by the clinic to find out what happened. The next day, two police officers came to their home -- and the Lakeys thought they were also being nice and checking up on them. Instead, an officer issued the citation and gave them a lecture, saying they had put the public's welfare at risk, Rose Lakey said.
O'Fallon city spokesman Tom Drabelle said at least five emergency vehicles and a dozen emergency workers responded to the Lakey home, thinking a child was in danger.
Emergency workers can help in the case of a sick dog, he said, but residents should call the police nonemergency number and be clear about who needs help.
"That's why this is a different situation," he said. "There's a different level of response."
O'Fallon officials did not release a recording or transcript of the 911 call.
Lakey isn't denying she used the word "daughter" during the call. But during the conversation, she said she may have been flustered and referred to one of her grown daughters, who were not in the home at the time.
But she denies using the word daughter on purpose.
"I think everyone has said something wrong in the heat of the moment," she said.
The municipal citation made it tough for Lakey to grieve for Oreo, she said.
Oreo was 4 1/2 years old and came to live with the Lakeys a few days after their youngest daughter went to college. She stood 6 feet 4 inches on her hind legs and was featured in a photo on the front page of the Post-Dispatch in 2009 wearing a pink and purple tutu during a pet parade through Soulard. The Lakeys kept their bathroom sinks full of water so Oreo could drink out of them.
Oreo's ashes sit in a black ceramic urn in the Lakeys' bedroom, and Rose Lakey wraps the urn in a blanket at night so Oreo can continue to sleep with the couple in their king-size bed.
"This sounds crazy, but she was our kid," she said. "We did everything with her. We have just been lost without her."
But the Lakeys will soon have a Great Dane puppy, who was born the day Oreo died. They believe they are meant to have her.
They expect the new puppy, whom they plan to name Zoey, to arrive from a breeder in Tennessee this week.
And they say they now know what to do in case Zoey needs emergency help: Call the nonemergency number.
"I hope other people can learn from this, too," Lakey said.
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