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Dog Gone: Cop Misconduct Goes Unpunished

Written by PETA | August 20, 2008

Some officious cop in San Marcos, Texas, recently thought it a better idea to berate a grieving couple instead of helping them get their dying dog to a veterinary hospital. Krystal Hernandez held Missy, a choking teacup poodle, as Michael Gonzalez rushed south along I-35 from their home toward the New Braunfels Veterinarian Clinic. The trio sped by Officer Paul Stephens at 95 miles per hour in a 70 miles per hour zone.

The rookie officer pulled the couple over, then called for backup. After Stephens pulled the couple over, things got really crazy.

Once Officer Stephens realized that the dog was in danger (according to him, Missy’s tongue was out of her mouth, and she was unmoving), he gave Hernandez and Gonzalez a hard time instead of a helping hand. As another officer struggled to clear Missy’s airway and administered CPR, Stephens lectured Gonzalez about his driving and imparted this insightful jewel: “It’s a dog, OK? You can get another one. Relax.” Check out the video below:



The officers claimed that the dog was already dead at that point, so there was no emergency.

San Marcos Police Chief Howard Williams ordered a reprimand against Stephens, who is 23 and has served as an officer for 15 months, but found him not guilty of misconduct. The department also discussed dismissing Gonzalez’s speeding ticket.

Gonzalez filed a complaint against the officer and claimed that valuable time was wasted, which resulted in Missy’s death. Choking is a deadly serious matter and appeared in recent headlines when Oprah Winfrey lost one of her beloved dogs last year from a choking accident. We recommend reading up on the Heimlich maneuver for dogs. We also recommend asking the San Marcos Police Department to implement a sensible strategy for cases like this one that involves training for these situations and disciplinarian action should the death of an animal result from an officer’s nonchalant and overbearing attitude. That’s what community relations classes are for. Get involved here.

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  • Amy says:

    Anybody ever stop to think about what would have happened if this couple had hit someone going 90 miles an hour? More than the dog would have died. Why weren’t they watching their dog closer anyways? I mean I have 1 dog and 1 cat right now but I have owned serveral in the past and one thing that you always do is keep your floor clean you need to clean it DAILY and keep small objects out of reach. Act just like you have a small child in the house. While the officer was wrong to berate them he should have escorted them to the vets office I think that the couple definitly deserves some of the blame here.

  • Mikede says:

    Sharonfool I am not making excuses as none are needed. Note the officer was totally correct comment. No one has the right to put other lives of any variety at risk in such a way. Even if it was his childwifepartnerfriend he would not have a right to put others at risk like that. That doesnt mean the average person wouldnt do it myself included even for you but that would not absolve them from moral or legal culpability if something happens. As you feel qualified to divine my reality I think it would only be fair for me to take a stab at yours. But wait fairness is not a virtue you exhibit in abundance. Your way or no way fits you more comfortably. You would do well to step out of you binary world for a breather on occasion. There is a vast and multifaceted one out there where people dont even agree with you strangely enough. Happy Solstice that is your shtick isnt it?

  • Sharon says:

    No Mikederetarded the officer was not correct. He was a pig and cruel and should have been fired. What are you doing on this site anyway? You obviously don’t “love dogs” like you claim when you’re making excuses for the creep.

  • Mikede says:

    I love dogs but the officer was totally correct. One hundred miles an hour according to the clip. There would be little chance of survival if he had hit something either for himself his passenger or those in the any other car he might have hit. Besides the other officer was already trying to help what more could he have done. In truth would you be comforted to know that a driver with such lack for control is sharing the road with you at 100 mps? With that said the officer could have been a bit more considerate.

  • Jane says:

    From knowing of the situation first hand. Michael was driving on the fast lane with the emergancy lights on which are used to indicate an emergancy not someone under the influence. When the police officer Stephensturned his lights on Michael then started to change lanes and came to a stop. Then Officer Stephens called for back up. Seen clearly on the dash cam and on the second dash cam the officer Bender kept telling Krystal that Missy wont make it to the vet however 9 12 minutes into the second dash cam video Officer Bender finally told Krystal that the dog is dead. Of course she wouldn’t have made it to the vet because of being detained for a long period of time. What! now Bender has a vet. medical license to determine that. Everyone has a right to their opinion good or bad. It’s your own. Missy was a big part of our family and is being missed. To some people and to the officers she was just a dog but to us she was part of our family.

  • Jane says:

    By watching both dash cam videos in no way did either one of the police officers try CPR. Get your facts in order before printing this article. Speak to Michael and Krystal and most important see the videos.

  • Chris Lee says:

    You can tell how young this cop is and that he has no idea how to do his job yet. He should lose his gun and his badge and its too bad that he didn’t but hopefully he learned something and can handle the situation right should anything like that happen again.

  • Juan says:

    After seeing the video it was very clear to me that there was no officer EXAMING out Missy as they claim JOYCE BENDER and if there was one its not up to the officer to say Missy was dead she is not a vet she is an officer of the law. This is why i feel that the CITY MAYOR OF SAN MARCOS DID NOT CAREFULLY OR REALLY DID NOT PAY MUCH ATTENION TO THE VIDEO THAT CAME FROM THEIR OWN POLICE DEPT.The emails from all over the world have seen this video and view it differently from what the CITY MAYOR HAS SEEN.I am surprised that AS A PET LOVER AND AS THE MOST POPULAR VIEWED OPRAH SHOW HAS NOT GOTTEN INVOLVED.

  • a says:

    The officer obviously needs sensitivity training which may be a reflection of the system as a whole. Not only did the officer belittle the life and love for the dog he also brought personal and abusive remarks to the poor man concerned for his pet . . . “what kind of drugs are you on!” as well as a slew of other personal attacks. The bottom line is this cop had the power to do something and he abused that power. Nobody deserves the treatment that officer handed out . . . especially the innocent pet.

  • bethany says:

    for this so person Timmmmma u dont even know what your talking about! and for this unthought cop u should be ashamed of your self and one day its going to happend to him

  • Denise says:

    Ok now this made me cry the man was clearly scared for his dogs life and if I lost my dog I would get just as upset if no one would help me. The police officer is a moron and that comment you can get another dog is definetly something a non human would say in this case.

  • Jess says:

    I wrote to their chief of police. I asked if it were their child could he have said “It’s ok it’s just a kid. You can have another one. Relax.” Seriously so many people don’t value any life these days after my friends Mom had a stillborn baby someone said “It’s ok just have another.” Sick. I hope you keep us up to date on the situation!

  • John Eglasias says:

    I’ve read every single comment. First of all you don’t see the whole video to know how long the officer was chasing the vehicle and that is why he was calling for back up because he wasn’t stopping. Do you think the cop was thinking at that time “maybe there is a dying dog in the car and that is why he is ignoring me and putting everyone’s life in danger.” Also when he does finally pull over and stop then the driver jumps out of the vehicle which is a huge officer safety issue. The man’s actions and behavior helped in getting the officer worked up and upset. I do not excuse the officer’s poor choice of words but do not blow this out of proportion just because the media wants to. If you watch any police video which begins the same way where a vehicle does not pull over but makes the officer pursue and when the vehicle does finally stop the driver jumps out as the officers approach you may see that the end result is usually a lot different and “just as deadly” as some of you put it. I think the lesson should be learned all the way around for everyone involved. Just because you love your pet and you may have had a bad experience with an officer is no reason to jump on this bandwagon. And I have yet to hear anyone yet ask the pet owner what was your dog choking on and why did you allow your dog to be able to get a hold of the object to choke on? Then ask who is to blame for the death of the dog. No one ever wants to point the finger at their self when it comes to that question but some people need to. Again not saying that his choice of words were not proper but that is a sensitivity training issue. Just as a citizen should learn not to speed not to ignore a police vehicle attempting to pull you over and not to jump out of a vehicle flailing your arms at a police officer. And if you want police officers to take the pet and use their patrol vehicle to rush the pet to hospital just prepare yourself when the 911 operator may tell you “Sorry no officer is available to make your location because they are escorting a speeding disobeying couple who has a pet choking to a vet. But i’m sure you understand.”

  • Loriel says:

    All this police officer had to do was “lead the way” once he realized what was happening and then he could have dealt with the speeding issue after the dog was treated. He was right to stop the car but once he realized what was happening he should have helped. At the very least he could have refrained from his helpful comment about getting another dog. Cops are either brave heroes who will risk life and limp to protect us or the biggest pricks that walk the face of the earth. They usually will fall into either category. The power will make some people crazy. I should know I used to be married to one. USED to be married to one. He was in the latter category. I am glad he did not stop me I would have been tasered and in jail by now most likely. Horribly sad.

  • SHARI PEARSON says:

    AFTER THIS COP WAS INFORMED OF THE SITUATION HE SHOULD HAVE HELP THEM WITH ESCORTING THEM TO THE VET. AND I DON’T KNOW IF I AM MORE MAD OR SICK ABOUT THIS.

  • Deborah says:

    What a stupid policeman he is! A heartless idiot and a dog MURDERER. I have 12 cats and a dog and I would have got back in sped off and dealt with it later. He should have done that with his fast car and siren as has been said previously. Animals have feelings feel fear and show love. I’m currently in the process of getting petitions signed in 5 countries for the cruelty in the Chinese Fur Farms. Wonder how the cop would feel about dogs if he saw that video? The Fur Farms have incensed me. I take my laptop and show people the video. The West are supposed to be civilised. I will email the Mayor and the SMPD too. Any help with the petitions would be welcomed. Thank you

  • Allie says:

    I agree that if the man was driving reckless then the cop should have pulled him over. HOWEVER when he sees the problem he should have taken the dog right away. Then he would have been seen as a hero not a prick. P.S. I love the “So he is a prick and a vet now?” comment made me almost spit out my soup…LMAO!

  • Eric Silberstein says:

    If only most cops were like Frank Serpico. He had high moral character. If you don’t know who he is google him. He loved animals.

  • Leigh says:

    What a completely insensitive jerk! He could’ve rushed the dog to the clinic and then dealt with the traffic violation later. Its not just the fact he pulled them over and wouldn’t let him go his words were so mean and heartless.

  • wendi says:

    When a police dog gets killed in the line of duty it’s a huge deal to the officers. And it should be. So is this dog’s life less worthy bc he isn’t a police dog? What a prick. Things like this are the reason people respect police less and less. This guy was “showin his nuts” and how would he feel if a fellow cop was killed and we said “Just a cop we can hire more!”

  • Citizen Joe says:

    Another idiot cop…

  • Antigone1000 says:

    Timmmma18 Well if you are ever choking to death I hope no one rushes to get you to the hospital. After all what value is your ONE life against the FOUR that might be lost as a result?? The cop here was completely in the wrong. If allowed to keep his job he needs to be taught how to react properly in emergency situations.

  • Patricia Howell says:

    I sent a letter to the mayor about this incident. I was so upset when I saw this on my local news. This so called peace officer needs to be reprimanded and needs to beg forgiveness from Missy’s parents for his hurtful and negligent actions and words. If I was the owner I would NOT accept anything less. I hope I never encounter someone like him in my lifetime. I’m so glad that the officers in my town are not like him. He has cast a very negative tone on the town of San Marcos. I hope that Missy’s parents know how many other pet owners feel their grief and sorrow over the loss of their beloved pet. He could have escorted them to the vet or let them go with a ‘slow down’ warning. He definately needs to be retrained in the ways of humanity and compassion towards others. I feel sorrow for any pets that he has if he has any.

  • Sarah says:

    What goes around comes around. Might not be today. Might not be tomorrow. But the cop will get his in some form or another. God works in mysterious ways. The cop said that the dog was dead alreadywhat is he a prick AND a veterinarian??

  • Puja says:

    This is a horrible tragedy that did not have to happen. Please see an above comment that gives you the email addresses of the Mayor and police chief of san marcos It is under the heading of aug 20 235pm

  • Susan says:

    As a nurse I worked at a jail and dealt with many cops. In all the years of working with them I have never seen such uncaring and sickening actions such as this unprofessional cop. If that was my dog I would have kept going and faced the consequences later. My dogs are my kids.As for this smartass cop I hope he is never choking in my presence.Heimlech maneuver? Never heard of it!!!

  • Wilda A says:

    I cant understand why this cop is not leading the way to the Vet so the dog could get another chance. Instead he is telling him is just a dog and that he could get another one. Beg you a pardon for humans with dignity compassion and love for all creatures a dog is not just a dog is a family member is one of us. thank you very much. Not just a thing that you throw away ignore or just let die on the side of the road. This moron needs to get instructed in humane and compassionate behavior. Im sure would like to instruct him in sensitivity and love for all creatures so this nonsense doesn’t happen again. I Feel so sorry for the couple that lost their beloved pooch. I know in my heart he is just irreplaceable. Good luck to you. God bless all creatures not just the ones called homo sapiens.

  • Eric Silberstein says:

    Let me start off by saying there are some nice police officers out there who are willing to go above and beyond to help. Ive been fortunate to meet some of them. However there are some who just don’t want to do there job. And it doesn’t matter whether the one needing help is a human or an animal. Believe it or not a lot of crimes go unpunished due to lazy police work. There’s just too many examples to mention. This one situation is NOT an isolated incident. It happens all the time. Oh and BTW if you ever see a stray animal be it a dog or cat wondering the streets and ask a cop for help don’t leave the animal. Make sure a rescue team picks him or her up. I guarantee the cop won’t wait around even if he called it in. This happened to me. Luckily I don’t trust them to do their job.

  • Ana says:

    Empathy is a lost trait. RIP doggie. Judith Sorry to read that you can’t express your rage!!!

  • Vince says:

    Look I understand why they were speeding but let’s be honest if they had got into an accident and innocent people were killed that would be even worse than letting a dog die. I like dogs but I’m not risking human lives just to save a dog.

  • Wink says:

    I wrote a letter to the Police Chief of San Marcos immediately after seeing this video yesterday. My question to him was whether he felt a K9 Officer’s dog was as worth rushing to the emergency vet. I was so upset as I have had the experience of dealing with a choking dog. Cindy if you’re not an animal advocate I wonder what brings you to the PETA website. I have worked in Law Enforcement and understand what “endangering lives” means. There was no mention of Mr. Gonzalez doing any such thing.

  • Courtney says:

    This cop is a tool..you can tell he’s one of those guys who gets in there so they can flaunt power over others that don’t have the badge…he probably ran his mouth off like that in college and got his ass kicked so decided to become a cop so he could bully. I understand his job but the WAY he talked to that distraught man was sickening. Please say that he does not own an animal cause he clearly has no compassion for them.

  • Phill says:

    Obviously the cop had to pull them over since speeding is a violation of the law. But when you see that there’s a choking dog you don’t mock people you help them! This guy should lose his job and never be allowed to work in law enforcement again. He’s clearly incompetent.

  • Megan says:

    This is a truly disgusting excuse for a human being. Apparently what this man fails to realize is that to most families who own pets view these pets as members of that family. I’m glad there such a thing as karma.

  • Aneliese says:

    “You being stupid.” If that cop were the one in the car with his dog choking to death I’m pretty sure he would be hysterical and wanting to get his dog to a vet as soon as possible. I can’t even watch this entire video a little empathy from the cop maybe actually trying to help these people and this dog instead of telling them to “relax” would have been nice. Had this been a child choking this entire situation would have been handled differently no question about it. The cop could have drove them to a vet or get that other cop to go with these poor people couldn’t he?

  • Sunny says:

    Please email the mayor and police chief of San Marcos and let them know what you think about this sadistic cop MayorCouncilInfoci.sanmarcos.tx.us SMPDInfoci.sanmarcos.tx.us

  • Maya, CVT says:

    This was simply unwatchable for me. When my cat was unconcious I admit that I panicked and drove 90 miles an hour down the highway to get him to the vet. He had a 106.5 degree fever and he almost died. Thankfully he just made it. This did not excuse my behavior I could have killed myself my cat and other people around me. So I am glad the officer pulled the man over. But when the officer saw the dog he should have used his power and driven the dog himself in his police car to the vet. He had the siren and everything and he could have saved the dog’s life assuming he did not want to perform a heimlich. I am sure that these officers have mediated minor disputes between citizens it seems as though saving a dog’s life is at least as much worth doing. It’s a shame there are no animal ambulances I bet PETA could do a really great thing by starting that kind of service. We are lucky officers in my town have pulled over for dogs and have used their police vehicles to get injured dogs to the vet and have saved lives this way. Thank you PETA for alerting me to this situation and maybe we can also reward officers who help animals I’m sure there are some out there. I sent my letter thank you for the opportunity.

  • Megan Ford says:

    I live in San Marcos and when I heard this story on the local news I almost threw up! The judge also commented on the news that he didn’t feel like the cop had done anyting wrong and that he shouldn’t have let them go! are you kidding me! Please if anyone in the San Marcos area would like to take further action in making sure that the San Marcos police department does not let anything like this happen again please contact me! My God if this had been a child you better believe you would have seen it on more than just the local new then.

  • Soliel says:

    I wrote them a polite letter. Obviously the cop is very young and doesn’t understand that dogs are not just property to many people and that it’s noble to try to save them. Property can be replaced relationships cannot. I think he will learn from this incident. He obviously never had a close relationship with a pet. Made me incredibly sad though. I love all dogs but I have a rescued teacup. If it were my dog I’d be so mad and so upset that she suffered while this cop prevented us from doing the necessary thing.

  • Christopher Cochran MD says:

    I can’t imagine pulling over whilst my dog was dying in the car. The empathy you gain by having a dog is not something that sensitivity training could ever teach. This officer needs a dog.

  • Timmmmma!18 says:

    dude i love animals but the officer did nothign wrong in the situation he was endangering lives… and the officer know that people in this case are more important than animals… ask the question kill a family of 4 or more or less or have an animal die?

  • Cindy says:

    Why is this officer not being charged with animal cruelty? If the average citizen were to stand by and watch a dog or any animal choke to death then the SPCA and everyone else would be screaming? Apparently the San Marcos PD thinks their officers are above the law.

  • Judith FFFA says:

    Well since I can no longer express my rage on PETA all I will say is someday somewhere this lowlife cop will ask for help and never receive it! Justice will prevail for these kids and their beloved animal companion! Peace for all animals! Most of my heroes wear masks!

  • keith says:

    Same old story no common sense shown. Perhaps one day this officer may find himself in a situation where he is choking..lets hope someone shows him more compassion. than he did for this poor dog and its dutiful owners.

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