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Officer gets reprimanded in “just a dog” case

The San Marcos police chief has reprimanded the officer who delayed two college students as they tried to rush their dying dog to a veterinarian, the San Antonio News-Express reported today.

Officer Paul Stephens, who said, “It’s just a dog,” as, he held the pair beside Interstate 35, received an oral reprimand and counseling, Police Chief Howard Williams said Tuesday.

“We sustained the complaint that was filed,” Williams said. “We made him watch the tape with his supervisor and he was counseled on how to improve his performance.”

But Williams said he believed his officer’s assessment that the dog was not alive when he pulled over Michael Gonzales for going 95 mph on the highway after midnight Aug. 5.

Gonzales and his girlfriend Krystal Hernandez, both Texas State University students, were rushing their teacup poodle, Missy, from San Marcos to an all-night vet clinic in New Braunfels after the dog choked on her food and went limp.

The couple pleaded with Stephens to allow them to get the dog to the clinic and then turn themselves in later, or to let Gonzales stay and get his speeding ticket while Hernandez completed the trip alone. Instead, they were kept at the scene for almost 20 minutes waiting for Stephens to issue the ticket as he chatted with two other officers who arrived.

The students say the dog died while they waited.

Gonzales said Tuesday he thought an oral reprimand was not sufficient.

“That’s not really a punishment at all,” he said. “I don’t feel a person like that should be working in law enforcement.”


Comment from Marie
Time August 20, 2008 at 11:22 pm

If the dog in fact died while on the scene and the officer said those words, he should be suspended without pay and made example of. I am tired of people getting away with cruelty because it is just a dog (cat, whatever). If reprimanding was sufficient punishment, then more people would get reprimanded and less people would become incarcerated/sued/etc. However, it’s clearly not an effective punishment, so do something else, please.

Comment from Anne-n-Spencer
Time August 21, 2008 at 3:08 pm

You said it, Marie! If he can be that callous towards a dog, next time it will be a woman in labor or somebody rushing to the bedside of a dying friend or relative. Cruelty is cruelty, no matter what the species–and people who will mistreat an animal won’t hesitate to mistreat a human being.

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