San Marcos : Dog Dies After Traffic Cop Ignores Owners’ Pleas

The law in San Marcos: Hays County Courthouse. Looks mighty pretty. Postcard courtesy of Phyllis C. Rummel.

“Who’s dying? Relax,” Stephens said as his cruiser’s dashboard camera captured the interaction.

“My dog,” Gonzalez said during the Aug. 5 traffic stop.

Source / ABC News. [See video below.]

Cop: ‘It’s a dog, it’s OK. You can get another one.’
August 17, 2008

SAN MARCOS, Texas — A police officer was accused of inappropriate behavior after his misconduct may have resulted in a dog’s death, ABC News reported.

Officer Paul Stephens pulled over Michael Gonzalez for speeding at 100 miles an hour down an interstate highway, prompting the driver to get out of the car, saying, “He’s dying.”

Gonzales and his girlfriend Krystal Hernandez explained that they were speeding to reach a veterinary clinic because their pet poodle Missy was choking.

The dashboard camera of the police car shows Officer Stephens yelling and criticizing the couple for putting other people’s lives at risk for a dog.

“You’re driving down the highway at 100 per hour,” he said. “It’s a dog, it’s OK. You can get another one. Relax.”

Stephens kept Gonzalez on the roadside for 15 minutes. The dog died as the couple waited for Stephens to issue a citation.

The couple tried to convince the officers several different ways to allow them to save their pet, KWTX Channel 10 News reported.

Gonzalez and Hernandez said they begged Stephens to let them go to the vet and turn themselves in for the speeding ticket later.

Gonzalez also offered to stay behind with the officer while Hernandez took the dog to the vet.

But Stephens ignored their pleas.

Police supervisors called the incident a “rookie mistake” and did not found Stephens guilty of any misconduct.

“This was not our finest hour,” said San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams.

However, Williams did say that Stephens behavior was less than stellar.

“His world was collapsing. And what the officer says to him, basically, is, ‘I don’t care,'” Williams said.

Earlier this week, a police officer in Arizona was acquitted of charges of animal cruelty after leaving a police dog in a patrol car for 13 hours on a hot day last summer, the Associated Press reported.

Recent examples of police misconduct towards people are unfortunately no less appalling and usually include the use of tasers.

Police in South Carolina punched a teenage boy 13 times in the face before tasering him as he lay prone on the ground.

Police tasered an injured teen from Ozark, Missouri up to 19 times after he fell from a highway overpass in late July.

The 16-year-old had broken his back and heel when the officers began tasering him.

In yet another bizarre instance of police violence, a 66-year-old minister was tasered and beaten by hospital security guards for what he claims was a joke.

In that incident, hospital security cameras caught five officers kicking Rev. Al Poisson on the ground for at least five minutes.

Source / The Raw Story

Choking pet dies while owner waits for traffic ticket — ABC News

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17 Responses to San Marcos : Dog Dies After Traffic Cop Ignores Owners’ Pleas

  1. Anonymous says:

    I definitely think this police officer should be charged with animal cruelty at the very least – my son is a police officer and this is the type of behavior that makes all police officers look bad. I also say shame on the Police Chief for treating this matter so lightly – personally I believe Officer Stephens is not police officer material. Compassion is a very large part of being a good officer.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Stephens should be fired..Bottom Line. I live near Houston and I’m glad he’s not a COP in my Town!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    These Michael Vicks fight dogs. Why would they care if they need medical attention.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I can not believe the officer said what he said. This is a dog we are talking about here. Not a pair of shoes or a purse that you can just walk into a store and buy. I’m sorry but my dog and cat are part of the family not a piece of merchandise that can be discarded. He should have be charged with animal cruelty. Police officer or not.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My dogs are my four legged children, not something you can replace on a whim!

    This cop should be fired and arrested for animal cruelty! He is the type of psycho that should be banned from holding any type of authority and carrying a gun.

    I will tell everyone I know to avoid San Marcos … especially if you’re traveling with animals!

  6. Anonymous says:

    They were driving 95 miles an hour! They could have killed a human! Like my real daughter! They needed to be pulled over.

  7. MWizard says:

    I agree with the comments on this deplorable incident, but it strikes me that there are 6 comments here, and none whatsoever (yet) on a story posted immediately after it, concerning the torture (and you can bet, death!) of human beings.

    This reminds me of an old story from the anti-war days of the sixties. Students for a Democratic Society (I forget which chapter came up with the idea but it was used in several places) announced a public demonstration of the effects of Napalm, in which a dog would be immolated. Thousands of angry students and townies showed up prepared to stop this atrocity by any means necessary. Then, an SDS speaker took the stage and reminded them that human beings were being napalmed in Vietnam every single day, and to point out that their outrage should be directed to that atrocity.

    Again, I am all for animal protection and animal rights. (I put my money where my mouth is on that issue, too.) I hope this San Marcos cop is brought up on charges, and it sounds like the whole department could use some re-education from the ASPCA. But with all due respect, I’d like to ask everyone who has commented on this report to please read the report posted just above it, and see the connection between permitting one type of cruelty and sanctioning another.

    Albert Einstein said, “Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” And that includes prisoners of war…

  8. mcnpd28` says:

    The thing everyone is forgetting is he was driving recklessly and endangering the lives of human beings. I am a dog lover but am also a LEO and his actions were inexcusable. And furthermore the reason he was held for 20 minutes was he kept arguing with the officer. He is lucky he did not get arrested for eluding the Police for not stopping, Which he admitted to. A normal traffic stop takes about 8 minutes without someone arguing with you. LEO’s hear all kinds of excuses and it does not necessarily make them true. I would guess the majority of people out there have come up with some BS excuse for getting out of a ticket and the first thing on the LEO’s mind is “Why was he not stopping.”

  9. Where exactly does an average police stop take 8 minutes? Is this a police statistic? I’ve waited 15 minutes while the cops were chatting in the car or eating donuts….

    And I’ll tell you one thing: I’d speed if I were trying to save my dog’s life. Can you tell me you could just stand there while a dog was choking to death? And tell the the dog’s owner, “It’s a dog, it’s OK. You can get another one. Relax.”

    Give me a break.


  10. Anonymous says:

    @ mcnpd28 So it’s ok for officer to “hold” someone in an emergency because the reaction is not to his/her liking? I don’t care if a “normal” traffic stop takes 8 minutes, the driver’s point is that the situation is not “normal” and they deserved immediate consideration of their situation, which Stephens failed to give. Cops aren’t robots right? Why should a person in an emergency situation even have to “argue” with an officer in the first place? Why couldn’t Stephens have gone along with what Gonzalez and Hernandez were suggesting? Gonzalez and Hernandez communicated what the problem was, had the evidence dying right there for Stephens to see and he didn’t react properly.

    Common man, use that power to do the right thing. You’re not out there to be some troll of the highways,…. You are hired to protect and serve. Don’t be a jerk with power that is given you!

  11. Anonymous says:

    The choking dog deserved to die.

  12. dbjs2776 says:

    When this story first broke, I thought it would involve racial discrimination or perhaps even a physical assault. After all, this story has gone national and even reached Oprah Winfrey. Must be terrible I thought.

    Then I see this man bouncing around his car in total frenzy in the dark with a police officer asking him to calm down. I am still waiting for something horrible to happen, a racial slur, a swat with the baton, here it comes. Then I hear that the frenzied man was pulled over for driving 100MPH, coupled with his behavior I am thinking “this guy was trying to run from the police, drugs maybe” Why else would you act this way and risk the lives of other drivers.

    So, when I hear that this is about a dog, well I am floored. You have got to be kidding me.

    Moreover, people have sent the police office and his family death threats. What in the hell is wrong with people today!

    People are so damn focused on the death of the dog that they have lost sight of the fact that this man was driving 100MPH at night putting the lives of countless people at risk. HELLO.
    One wrong move, as he probably cut off plenty of drivers, and he could have killed a mother, a father, a son or daughter, a family for god sake.

    No, the cop was not tactful but consider what this man witnesses everyday, including death and you wonder why he was probably pissed that he had to stop this guy from potentially killing innocent people because of a DOG!

    PRIORITIES people. A story ran a few months ago about an elderly man who was hit by a car while crossing the street. The man lay dying in the street while people looked on no one helped him. We become outraged over a dog yet let a human die with no regard.

    Moreover, we have no idea why this dog chocked to death. Did the owner give him inappropriate food, i.e. a cooked chicken bone? Did the owner fail to take proper precautions to protect the dog from chocking? NO ONE KNOWS, but you demonize the police officer that was doing his job and trying to protect you from the guy driving 100MPH IN THE DARK.


    I own two dogs and 8 hamsters, I love animals but I will not risk my life or the lives of my fellow human beings for an animal.

  13. Mariann says:

    It occurs to me that in the movies, when the woman goes into labor and her husband is speeding toward the hospital and is pulled over by the cops, all he has to do is yell, “My wife is in labor!” and they quickly escort him to the hospital with sirens wailing.

    It would be good to think that if someone yelled, “My dog is dying and I’m going to the emergency pet clinic!” they might also get some ASSISTANCE from those we pay to protect and to serve.

    And no, even though I have shared my life with numerous companiohn animals, and had to rush more than one of them for medical assistance (being hit by cars the main reason), I can’t say I would feel comfortable driving 100 mph here in town to get vet help — and honestly, I’m not going 100 mph in town even for a human emergency! So if this dog owner was actually driving that fast in San Marcos, he was pretty seriously over-reacting, and certainly should have drawn police attention. You can’t help anyone else if you lose your head…

  14. mcnpd28` says:

    Ok some people here have said the Officer should have taken the two people at their word, the thing is not everyone tells the truth to the police. Also yes when writing a ticket it takes anywhere from 8 to 10 minutes without the 10 minute argument, and no that is not a statistic it is experience. And finally the police are there to serve and PROTECT, meaning the lives of the innocent families and people on the road he could have killed. I am sorry but the life of a dog over the life of a human is an easy choice, I protect THE HUMAN.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I was appalled to learn that San Marcos Police Officer Paul Stephens is being condemned for saving the lives of numerous people in Interstate 35 between San Marcos and New Braunfels, Texas.

    I was appalled that the owners of Missy the dog weren’t arrested for placing the lives of others in jeopardy.

    There is no way for officers in the field to avoid emergencies that involve animals. Citizen training is essential to ensure that these cases are handled humanely and in a way that minimizes the risks to reporting officers, the public, and animals.

    A dog’s suffering should never be given the same attention that would be granted if frantic parents were rushing their injured child to an emergency room because an animal is not human.

    A more appropriate response in this situation would have been to arrest Mr. Gonzales in order to keep Missy’s family and everyone on the road safe.

    I’m sure officers are trained to handle emergencies that involve suffering animals. Departmental policies should ensure that the community is afforded the very best consideration in the future when it comes to placing the life humans before that of an animal.

    Officer Stephens, I support you. Thank you for serving me and keeping me safe from people like Mr. Gonzales.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Unless you’ve been in the arena, stop throwing stones. You haven’t earned it. Most of you bloggers haven’t the slightest idea what I’m talking about here, do you?

    When I worked as an officer my wife was glad I came home alive. Always being “nice” would have easily got me killed.

    One other thing, there is an animal hospital in San Marcos (on Hwy 80) but Mr. Gonzales chose to drive 20 miles to New Braunfels. Bad choice.

  17. Anonymous says:

    If that mouth of his gets him shot and killed one day it will be ok the police force can always get another one.

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