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Dog dies while officer writes owner a speeding ticket

by Therese on August 14, 2008

in Dogs, Pets

As a San Marcos, TX man rushed his girlfriend and her two-year old poodle to an after hours emergency animal hospital he was stopped for speeding. The poor guy was in hysterics, knowing the dog was in bad shape. But rather than trying to help the guy, the officer kept asking what the guy ‘was on’ and told him repeatedly that it was “just a dog” and that he could get another.

San Marcos — As San Marcos resident Michael Gonzales recalls, one of the first things a police officer said to him after pulling him over for speeding early Wednesday morning was asking him “what he was on.”Gonzales acknowledges he was hysterical after being pulled over on IH-35 going well in excess of the speed limits. But the reason, he said, was plain to see — the two- year-old teacup poodle in his girlfriend’s lap was gasping for breath, and the couple were rushing to an after-hours veterinary hospital in New Braunfels.

Gonzales and his girlfriend Krystal Hernandez say the dog, Missy, died during the time it took for officers to cite him for speeding. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the couple say police repeatedly told them it was “just a dog” and that they could buy another.

[…]

Hernandez, who received the puppy from Gonzales following her high school graduation, said a female officer “kept telling me my dog was dead and I kept telling her she was alive and had a heartbeat. I had my finger in her mouth so she wouldn’t’ bite down on her tongue. I felt like she still had a chance if they could please help us.”

Hernandez said she even offered to leave Gonzales there and drive the rest of the way. “I said ‘please let me go.’ They told me no. We waited like 20 minutes and they never did anything and my dog ended up just dying there.”

Afterwards, Gonzales went to police headquarters and talked to the night shift commander, who he said had already seen video from the patrolman’s in-car camera. “He said legally (the officer) didn’t do anything wrong, but the way he handled the situation should have been handled better,” Gonzales recalled. “He said the most they can really do is set up a counseling session where he will speak to the officer about what he did wrong and how he could have done better. That’s it. A slap on the wrist.”

Here’s the rest.

I can’t find it online yet, but KXAN News showed the video from the officer’s dash cam, and it was awful!! Yes, the guy was very upset and couldn’t stand still – he was panicking! Who wouldn’t be a bit upset if they were trying to save a life and were stopped?! Maybe speeding isn’t a good thing to do, but I don’t know why the cop couldn’t have just escorted the guy to the animal hospital and then dealt with the ticket. What an ass!

I’ve wondered what a police officer would do in a situation like this. I hope this cop, Officer Paul Stephens (according to a UPI story) is an exception to the rule.

Update: I’ve had a number of people email me privately to ask if I knew who they could write to about this. So, here’s the contact info from the San Marcos Police Department website:

Howard Williams, Chief of Police
SMPD_Info@ci.san-marcos.tx.us
512.753.2108
512.753.2190 FAX

Update: KXAN finally put the dash cam video online along with another one of an interview with the guy whose dog died.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Alexandra August 15, 2008 at 5:47 pm

I am shocked just reading this article. This police would’ve heard a mouthful from me. How heartless and insensitive could this guy be. “Just a dog,” please! I would’ve just driven off and then dealt with the ticket later. My dog’s life is more important than some ticket. Of course I would’ve driven as safely as I could but still as fast as I could. I find it disgusting how some people with power behave sometimes.

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Fayclis August 16, 2008 at 10:54 pm

How BLOODY heartless. I hope that this “cop” gets back what he gave out.
He should be getting a kick up the BUTT instead of some councilling.

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Sabra August 16, 2008 at 11:20 pm

I have a friend who currently works at a pet store who has been repeatedly applying to the State Police. I think its safe to say that I know how he would have handled it. I will ask him when I see him this week and let you know. I also know a K-9 officer and ask him the same question.

As for me. I would explain that my dog is a service dog, and that I need to get her there, NOW! You can follow me or shoot me. And he had better be quick at handcuffing me because otherwise he’s going to have to mail me that ticket.

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Rebecca August 18, 2008 at 8:59 am

What a piece if sh-t, karma is a b–ch, he’ll get his. He should be fired. He let another living thing die like that. GRRRR! So tired of police thinking they can do what ever they want. He should be charged with animal cruelty. I hope someone recognizes him and punches him in the face.

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Justin August 18, 2008 at 1:22 pm

The Police Officer was doing his job and that is upholding the law. The gentlemen should not have been speeding and then the Police Office wouldn’t have been involved. I think everyone is missing the point that speeding and driving reckless endangers human lives and not dog lives. I understand that pet lovers are sensitive, however human life is ranked about a dogs life. You need to retract your comments about the Police Officer and think about the situation. What if your spouse or child would have been hit head-on by this gentlemen while he was speeding and driving recklessly. Would you still have the same voice? This Police Office possibly saved a humans life and you are slandering him for the sake of a dog. Think about it……

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Therese August 18, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Actually, Justin, I think you might be missing the point. The point isn’t that the cop stopped the guy because he was speeding. I think everyone understands why he did that, it’s his job and that’s what he should be doing. What people are upset about is that he took his time and let a dog die. He could have just as easily found out where the vet clinic was, escorted the guy there, and then dealt with the speeding ticket.

And, as far as telling people they need to retract their comments is concerned…feel free to tell readers on your own blog what they need to do, but that doesn’t fly here. And yes, I still think the cop was an ass.

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Frances August 18, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Justin, may I suggest that you retract your comments.

As a former police officer I have nothing against pulling over the speeding motorist in this case. But the line was crossed when the officer prevented these people from rushing their critically ill dog to the vet. I’ve watched the video and the man is clearly hysterical; yet there were many other ways that this could have been handled, most of which would have had the dog quickly to the vet and the fall out of the speeding issue could have been handled later. I think the officer said it all when he told them – It’s just a dog, you can get another one! The officer did not care and clearly neither do you.

And please don’t trot out the red herring of future accidents possibly taking the lives of women and children. If that is that standard that we must all hold our conduct to, then please stay home in your padded cell where your keepers can assure your safe. And if one of your loved ones should become critically ill, please obey all posted speed limits, in your stroll to the hospital.

This did not have to be a choice between humans and dogs with the dog losing. There were other, better ways to handle this and this officer should have been more compassionate.

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donna August 18, 2008 at 7:21 pm

In reply to Justin! He apparently didnt read the story
“Hernandez said she even offered to leave Gonzales there and drive the rest of the way. “I said ‘please let me go.’ They told me no. We waited like 20 minutes and they never did anything and my dog ended up just dying there”

No excuse for this happening.

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Queen Schindler August 18, 2008 at 10:17 pm

This is so sickening……please let eveyone know what kind of police officer ths “FREAK, paul stephens” is. He needs to be fired and then bring legal charges against him. He must be related to michael vick….
To Michael and Krystal: I am so sorry for your loss. I have 3 dogs and they mean the world to me.
If the Chief of Police Howard Williams does not fire the FREAK/paul stephens, remind the community about this when its time to re-elect the chief.
Queen Schindler

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David August 19, 2008 at 3:26 am

Justin, you are wrong – the officer was just plain being a jerk. Who said he was driving recklessly? You jump to conclusions. Many people all the time are driving reckless for no reason. A dog for many people are part of the family. Like it or not, there is an extreme emotional connection. Why not take the guy to the vet as an escort then deal with the speeding ticket? I myself would not have obeyed the officer and continued on my way only to deal with the consequences later. Trust me Justin, I would be very conscious of my own life and others when speeding to get my family member (my dog) to the hospital.

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Nicole Engard August 24, 2008 at 7:15 pm

I always assumed that if I was in this situation the police officer would escort me to the hospital and finish the ticket writing there. I cannot even image what this poor man had to go through (and cannot bring myself to watch the video).

I agree with the others. Of course the office had to pull the man over, but the fact that the dog died while the officer ignored the pleas of the people involved is horrible – would it have been such a big deal to escort the people to the hospital or even take the dog their in the police car and then cite the family??

Okay – I have to go read something cuddly and warm now to stop crying.

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Paul June 14, 2009 at 5:56 pm

The San Marcos Police have turned into a modern over the top loser
Gestapo. I was stopped for a back tailight out and pulled over onto a rough shoulder. I am a disabled Vet and I can barely walk with a cane. The officer had be get out of the vehicle to show me the back tail light out. I took my can from the back of the vehicle to walk with the cane on the rough ground. I am already an old grandpa diabled yet the the police officer told me with a threatening voice to leave my cane! To my amazement the four other officers watching put their hands on their pistols menacingly until I complied! I told him that I am disabled and the officer told me to grab the vehicle to walk.

I lived in Los Angeles for many years and I have seen this kind of street behavior by police officers dealing with carloads of known gangmembers but never on an old man who needs a cane to walk! Get over yourselves San Marcos PD, you work for us!

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