A Texas State University student who waited to get a speeding ticket while his girlfriend's dog died in her arms has filed a formal complaint with the San Marcos police over the Aug. 5 incident.
Krystal Hernandez was holding her ailing teacup poodle, Missy, while her boyfriend, Michael Gonzalez, raced south on Interstate 35, allegedly hitting 95 mph, toward a 24-hour veterinary clinic in New Braunfels.
After their car was pulled over sometime after midnight, the couple said they were kept waiting for 20 minutes by Officer Paul Stephens before he issued the ticket, despite their desperate pleas.
Police Chief Howard Williams said an internal investigation was begun after Gonzalez complained.
"This was not our finest hour," Williams said. "It was not handled right by our officer, but whether there was a violation of our policy that is subject to punishment, I don't know."
He said the officer has been "counseled" by supervisors.
Hernandez said the incident began when she and Gonzalez returned home after midnight from visiting a friend in San Antonio and fed Missy. When the dog began choking, they tried to dislodge the food, only to have Missy vomit and go limp.
They were racing down Interstate 35 toward New Braunfels when they were stopped by Stephens.
"Instead of helping us, he asked Michael what he was on," Hernandez said.
She said they begged to be allowed to take the dog to the clinic, also asking that they be allowed to turn themselves in to be ticketed or arrested or for Stephens to detain Gonzalez there while she drove the dog to New Braunfels.
Instead, she claims, Stephens responded, "Chill out, it's just a dog, you can buy another one."
Instead of hurrying to issue the ticket, Gonzalez said, Stephens chatted with two other officers on the scene. When he finally allowed them to leave 20 minutes later, the dog was dead, Gonzalez said.
But Chief Williams, who reviewed the patrol car's videotape of the stop, said Gonzalez should not have been driving so fast.
"He was going to kill someone the way he was going," Williams said. Unfortunately, the chief said, the officers made the situation worse.
Gonzalez said he was told that the department's shift commander had contacted the municipal court and asked that the speeding ticket be dropped.
"That kind of makes me more furious," Gonzalez said. "It's like I was kept there for nothing."