San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
Email Email | Print Print --

August 20th, 2008
Officer in dog death gets oral reprimand, counseling


San Marcos Police Department has completed their investigation of a traffic stop that ended with the death of a dog. Local resident Michael Gonzalez and his girlfriend, Krystal Hernandez, were rushing their teacup poodle, Missy, to a veterinary clinic in New Braunfels to save their life-threatened “baby”.

Officer Paul Stephens pulled Gonzalez over for speeding on Interstate 35. Gonzalez said he was frantic and the officer did not make the situation any better.

“I was throwing my arms out the window and begging him, I was yelling ‘hurry up, please help me’,” said Gonzalez. “For a minute and half he just stood back there and looked at me as if I were crazy and he asked me to get out of the car, and I yelled at him please hurry, and to go look at what was going on. He then looked at me and said ‘what are you on?’ I was stunned.”

Gonzalez said he was finally able to explain to Stephens the nature of his dilemma, his dog was dying.  Gonzalez said that Stephens replied, “Dude you need to chill out, it’s just a dog you can always get another one.” Gonzalez described feeling disgust and anger.

“Imagine if it was your daughter dying in your arms,” said Gonzalez. “And [Stephens] said, ‘it would never be my daughter, it’s a dog,'”.

Other officers were present at the scene, including Joyce Bender. Hernandez said Bender was dealing with her in the passenger’s seat while Gonzalez spoke with Stephens outside. Bender examined the dog and gently pushed down on her stomach according to Hernandez. “As she was telling me my dog was dead, my dog bit my finger,” said Hernandez. She said Bender then left her and Missy in the car and went to speak with the other officers. “She closed the door and she left, they left me just sitting there in the car and they never came back to ask me anymore questions or tried to help,” said Hernandez. “That’s when she died, when they left me in there.”

Gonzalez said they were held for approximately 20 minutes, resulting in Missy’s death. “The time that they wasted in giving me my ticket, I feel was very crucial time, time that we needed,” said Gonzalez.

Hernandez said she misses Missy very much and wants Stephens to lose his job. “I don’t think we should have people like that as a police, someone that we depend on for help and they’re not gonna help you,” said Hernandez. Gonzalez echoed her sentiment and said, “If he just gets a slap on the wrist, this kind of thing is just gonna happen again.”

San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams said Stephens is a young officer and is unaccustomed to dealing with these kinds of cases. Stephens has received an oral reprimand and was ordered to get counseling.

“These people were having their world collapse around them, and the way the cop came across was like he didn’t care and that’s unacceptable,” said Williams. “We hope that through his counseling he will learn how to better deal with these issues.”

Williams said he will be writing the couple a letter explaining what happened and apologizing for the incident.
“It’s not fair for us,” said Hernandez. “She wasn’t just a dog; she was my best friend, she was more than that. We did everything together, and now just because of them, waking up in the morning is pretty sad for me, I mean she’s not jumping to try and get on the bed and we don’t do any of things we use to, she wasn’t just a dog to me.”

Gonzalez said he had bought Missy for Hernandez as a high school graduation gift. He said Missy was all Hernandez had in this world, after losing her mother to a stroke.

“She was like my child, I know she was just an animal but we had a connection, we had a bond,” said Hernandez. “She didn’t deserve to just suffer and to choke and just die there. It was a terrible thing that they did, the way they acted. I still feel the same, pretty angry inside, I cry over it.”

Gonzalez said his traffic violation was dropped.


Photos courtesy of Michael Gonzalez

Email Email | Print Print


15 thoughts on “Officer in dog death gets oral reprimand, counseling

  1. I am so very happy to learn that kvue had a story on it adn to find out Inside Edition! Wonderful! My heart goes out to you Krystal! I feel horrible for you. Please know and understand people do care! Missy was adorable!

  2. My husband and I had a Doberman at the time when they were considered the “meanest” breed. We were talking about a routine matter in our home, and the San Antonio police officer threatened to shoot her if she didn’t settle down.

    So I know where you’re coming from, Krystal! Dogs and cops don’t really get along (unless it’s their dog of course).

  3. I wonder which side of the story everyone would be on if the young couple were to have had an accident involving other citizens innocently driving at the same time. I feel that the officer was correct in stopping the couple but he failed to apply common sense to a delicate situation. He could have very easily warned them of their current dangerous driving and let them go to handle the emergency. Unfortunately rookie mistakes landed him in a heated situation. Although extremely tragic, “Missy” is not worth a vehicle accident nor should I be in danger because of careless driving among panic stricken youth.

  4. YES The GUY WAS SPEEDING AND IT WAS WRONG. BUT THAT IS NOT THE ISSUE IN HAND HERE. People should not dwell on the fact that they were speeding. The cop had a right to pull them over but what he did after the fact was WRONG. He took advantage of his authority and took his sweet time to write a ticket while a dog choked to death in the car. THAT IS ANIMAL NEGLECT AND ABUSE. HE SHOULD BE FIRED NOT JUST COUNSELED. IF SOMEONE NEEDS TO BE COUNSELED ON HOW ITS WRONG TO NEGLECT ANIMALS….THEN THEY SHOULD NOT BE AN OFFICER.

  5. Anyone that doesn’t think heads should roll over this needs to look at websites like this

    Or maybe the fact that KTLA in Los Angeles just ran a story about this on it’s newscast.

    The officer would not have treated this couple and their pet like this if they were not Texas State students, I am firmly convinced of this. The hostile attitudes that exist in this town at the highest levels toward Texas State students have finally blown up in a huge embarrassing mess.

    This is so embarrassing and sad.

  6. That’s quite a stretch.

    Why is it that anytime anything happens around here, someone wants to say that it is because of hostile attitudes toward students or hostile attitudes toward non-students?

    I watched the video and I think that officer was going to act that way toward anyone who got out of that car.

    There are plenty of non-students complaining about how this was handled.

  7. Let us all be careful where we cast our stones! Fact: the driver was endangering lives on I-35. Fact: the officer did not handle everything perfectly. Fact: we all make mistakes.

    Now, regarding attitudes, everybody I know, up and down, left and right, is very glad we have Texas State University here in our community, while acknowledging there are things we want to do to improve relationships throughout.

    And, regarding the media frenzy over this, I wish we could get as “worked up” over the many larger and tremendously complex challenges that face us as a society, nation-state, world.

  8. Not to hijack this conversation, but since someone else brought it up, I’ll add to my thought, the old cliché that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

    Whatever level of tension there is between students and non-students, do comments like Jordan’s, whichever side makes them, ease or exacerbate those tensions?

  9. It is a horrible situation, but people need to clam the F___ down! Go back and look at the dash cam video. The officer was right to pull them over. Then they stopped in a couple of very dangerous places. He had every right to treat them like he did up to that point. After that he handled it poorly, but they deserved a ticket. He’s been reprimanded, and given the firestorm that has erupted, he will probably loose his job. He’s receiving death threats for crying out loud. I’m no fan of police attitudes here in San Marcos, but that is ridiculous. Some people need to get their priorities straight. Why did they feel the need to endanger their own lives and all of the other people on I35 to save maybe 5 minutes getting to New Braunfels? Come on people. Step back and breathe people.

  10. Where was the common sense? If it was a little girl, the officer would have jumped back into his car and given the people a lights and siren escort to the hospital. Ok, it was a dog, would it have hurt to go that extra step and do the same thing. If he realy wanted to be a hard ass, he could have still ticketed them at the vets. At minimum, one of the other officers could have taken the girl and the dog to the vets in the squad car. This officer has an attitude problem, he is there to serve and protect, he missed on both counts.

  11. Jordan Stewart
    That website you posted a link to is BS !! I posted something defending our great town and withing mins it was removed. Dont kid yourself, do you really think someone that lives in Scottsdale, Arizona ( the person that started the website) really knows the goings on of San Marcos Texas? To Hell with all the people that say they will never visit here. They can stay away! Who Needs Them? I feel bad for the dog and everything that happened but I still wanna know who their vet was! Or did they even have a regular vet? Did Missy go to the vet on a regular basis? Just Saying……..

  12. And another thing…. get off your high horse about being a Texas State student. I know PLENTY of Texas State students that have never had a run in with the law. And I know others that have had several run ins with the law. The difference is…. those that know how to follow the law and those that dont

  13. I am sure some wack job from PETA will take care of Officer Stephens, and the whole Police Dept. for that matter, They love to slash tires throw cocktails and other crazy crap like that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *