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Choking Poodle Dies During Traffic Stop

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Choking Poodle Dies During Traffic Stop 

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Old 10-19-2008, 06:14 PM
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SAN MARCOS, Texas -- Mayor Susan Narvaiz of San Marcos defended the police officer who detained a speeder and his girlfriend, who were rushing their dying dog to a veterinary clinic, telling reporters the Iraq vet and his family have received death threats.

Having viewed the dashboard videos from the two patrol cars, Narvaiz gave new details about the incident.

The videotapes, released to the public Thursday, do not clearly show the back-up officer trying to revive the dog, but she can be heard saying the dog was already dead.

In an attempt to quell a week of bad publicity, the mayor held the news conference.

"As mayor of San Marcos, I want to express our regret for this incident and trust we can use it to improve our service to our community," she said.

The city and police have received thousands of angry phone calls and e-mail messages, but Police Chief Howard Williams handled the situation well, Narvaiz said.

"Most of the e-mails are coming in from people who are calling for the officer's head, 20 percent say the officer did the right thing, and 10 percent say I should be fired for disciplining the officer," said Williams of the public outcry.

On southbound Interstate 35 near San Marcos, Texas, Officer Paul Stephens initiated a routine traffic stop on Tuesday, August 5, at about 12:30 a.m.

After Michael Gonzalez pulled over, Stephens asked the driver to move to the end of the overpass.

The car started towards the wider, safer shoulder, then suddenly, the vehicle jerked back onto the interstate. Cutting across lanes of traffic, Gonzalez sped off.

Stephens followed, calling for back-up. A three-mile, high-speed chase ensued, where Gonzalez cut in front of a tractor trailer, passed traffic on the right shoulder and finally pulled over for a second time.

This time Gonzalez followed Stephens' orders. Teacup poodle Missy laid across passenger Krystal Hernandez's lap. The dog was being rushed to the New Braunfels Veterinarian Clinic, after choking on food.

According to Stephens and Officer Joyce Bender, the back-up officer, the dog had no muscle movement, her eyes were fixed and Missy's tongue was outside of her mouth.

Williams estimates that only five to eight minutes had passed from the time the couple left their home to the moment both officers began talking to the couple on the side of the highway.

Bender worked to dislodge the food from the poodle's throat and then performed canine CPR.
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"The other officer did a much better job trying to calm the passenger down," Williams said of Bender's actions. "She tried to literally help the dog and revive the dog."

Divided by the vehicle and the roar of passing traffic, the two officers responded separately to the couple.

"This is when he lectured (Gonzalez) on how he was driving and said 'it's just a dog, you can get another one,' " Williams said.

"So that only inflamed the situation and made it worse. You can't talk to people that way when their world is coming down around them.

"They (the couple) were just trying to deal with that emergency and doing everything they thought they should do to save that dog -- the officer should have recognized that and worked to help them in that emergency."

While the couple asked to continue on to the vet and return for their citation later, or for Hernandez to go while Gonzalez stayed behind, Williams says the officer responded correctly.

"He should not have let them just go -- the driver was in such a state of hysteria that he should not have been allowed to drive," Williams said.

"But having said that, the officer should have tried to calm the situation down and find other solutions."

Williams says the two officers then regrouped at the patrol car to discuss the situation.

"They believed the dog was already dead and that is why the officers felt no urgency to do an emergency run to New Braunfels for a dog that had already died," Williams said.

But if the dog had appeared alive, Williams says his officers most likely would have given the couple and Misty a cruiser ride to the vet.

However, later that day Gonzalez filed a complaint against Stephens, alleging the officers' conferencing had wasted valuable time in saving the dog's life.

"Now, to be fair, I know the owner and girlfriend were both convinced the dog was still alive when they were driving there, but when we pulled the car over the dog hadn't breathed for about five minutes and they still had another 20 minutes to go to the vet -– the dog wasn't going to make it."

Not being aware of their dog's death, Williams says, was due to the panic the couple was in.
The level of Gonzalez's distress was evident in the police video as he handed the officers merely a piece of paper from his wallet instead of his driver's license.
Stephens had to ask for the license again before Gonzalez realized it.

"But that doesn't excuse how my officer handled the situation," said Williams whose department's internal investigation of the incident concluded Wednesday.

When Stephens reported for duty on Wednesday evening, Williams ordered a reprimand for violating the department's policies for talking to people with disrespectful language.

He was also ordered to counseling with his chain of command to review the tapes.

Since then Stephens has watched the video of the incident and "was pretty embarrassed and disappointed that he handled it so poorly."

"People think he is some mean, dog-hating ogre, but really he is just a young, inexperienced officer who was confronted with a situation that he didn't know how to handle," Williams said.

"And while he was trying to make the point that you can't endanger the lives of people, the message came across that he didn't care about their problem."

Stephens, 23, has been serving with the San Marcos Police Department for 15 months. Williams believes the rookie will learn from this mistake and go on to have a long, successful career.

While Gonzalez's ticket still remains, the department has spoke to the prosecutor about having it dismissed.

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Old 02-27-2018, 05:31 PM
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It's just a dog.. What a cold hearted piglet
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Old 02-28-2018, 01:49 PM
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Old 03-01-2018, 07:07 PM
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I so love pigs!
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Old 03-02-2018, 08:55 PM
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"It's just a dog..."

Yeah... and you're just a pig... I hear they are quite similar, so I hope you are shot on duty and unable to reach assistance.
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Old 03-03-2018, 12:11 AM
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I can't believe all these idiots that act like a dog is on par with a person
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