A couple who thought they were watching their epileptic dog being euthanized actually witnessed a simple sedation procedure concocted so the veterinary clinic could later give the canine to another owner, they claim in a lawsuit.

Dana and Gary Ganyer said they cried while watching what they thought was the death of Annie, a 2-year-old German shepherd that had increasingly frequent and debilitating seizures.

But in a lawsuit filed in Bucks County last week, they contend Annie was not euthanized in February 2005 at the Mill Pond Veterinary Clinic in Milford.

Instead, the lawsuit says, the dog was given a sedative to make it appear she was dead. The clinic then gave Annie to a new owner, Gene Rizzo of Northeast Philadelphia, who cared for the dog until he had her euthanized on Nov. 2, according to the lawsuit.

"When I heard she was still alive I literally screamed and went into hysterics and I was in shock for three days," Dana Ganyer said. "My nerves were totally torn up that this vet could do this."

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, accuses Mill Pond Veterinary Clinic, Mill Pond Kennels and three of its employees of fraud, negligence and defamation.

A lawyer for the veterinary clinic did not return a call Friday from The Associated Press.

In the lawsuit, the Ganyers say they were told by a former employee of the clinic that they were considered "heartless" and that a meeting was called the morning Annie was scheduled to be euthanized to devise a plan to "rescue" the dog.

The Ganyers contend they are loving owners who decided to put Annie down only after weeks of research and soul-searching.

On June 30, the Ganyers received a call from the former clinic employee, who told them Annie was still alive.

A few days later they drove to Rizzo's home. The Ganyers told Rizzo they were Annie's rightful owners, but he refused to give her back.

Rizzo said Annie had seizures every few weeks, but between them "she was perfectly normal."

Annie was euthanized after Rizzo said she lapsed into a coma-like state for two days and his veterinarian told him the dog was "really suffering."