LARGO, Fla. - "I was devastated. I started crying," recalled Michael Hernandez.
Hernandez couldn't believe it when he found out how old his dog Acky really is. He adopted the mixed breed from Pinellas County Animal Services nearly ten months ago.
"They told me that I made a great choice and that he was an excellent dog and that he was only three years old," Hernandez explained.
But last week, while Acky was running in the yard, something went wrong.
"His leg just gave out on him and he let out the worst cry I think I've ever heard him do and it just absolutely broke my heart," Hernandez added. An animal hospital diagnosed Acky with a ruptured ligament in his back leg. But the vet had other news.
"After fully examining my dog, came to the conclusion that my dog is in fact ten years old, and has multiple tumors and possibly has cancer polyps," Hernandez said.
The paperwork from the animal hospital lists the dog's age as ten. While the adoption day documents list Acky as three. Pinellas County Animal Services Director Maureen Freaney said there is no certainty in estimating age.
"There's no test that would really tell the age of an animal. Most times you go strictly by the teeth, and you have to make a judgment call. We have about 14,000 impounds a year," she explained
The animal services adoption policy states the animal should be brought to a private vet within 72 hours of adoption. Michael Hernandez signed the policy but claims he was told Acky wouldn't need a vet appointment for a year.
"As professionals, they should know that what they're selling. I bought this dog under the impression that it was perfectly healthy," Hernandez responded.
Animal Services officials say it's unusual for such a large amount of time to pass before an issue is brought to their attention. But, they say they are willing to discuss the issue.
"We'll get our veterinarian talking to his veterinarian and just see if there was some discrepancy that maybe shouldn't have been that wide," Freaney said.