MONTGOMERY COUNTY, TX (KTRK) --An online petition started to pressure Montgomery County officials to return a K9 officer to his original handler upon retirement picked up steam after our original report.
When we first told you about former Montgomery County deputy Lynise Marshall's effort, she had about 2,000 signatures. Since then, it's passed 90,000.
She hopes that helps her case to bring him home. The sheriff's office says if people knew all the facts, they'd be throwing their anger instead of their support.
Marshall met with the Sheriff and Chief Deputy Tuesday about adopting her former partner Hap. But she and her fiancé say it was a waste of time.
"I believe that if it were left up to the county officials that they've made up their mind," she says.
Captain Ronnie Silvio with MCSO tells us there have been no discussions of retiring the nine-year-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever.
"He's had some retraining over the past year and a half since this incident occurred. But he's still doing the job," he said.
That incident was back in October 2014. Silvio tells Eyewitness News during an internal investigation into misuse of county funds, for which Lynise Marshall was cleared, concerns came up about Hap's kennel and his care. In response to our open records request, the county released pictures of his living conditions. Captain Silvio calls them deplorable and unsatisfactory.
"There were some health issues as far as the dog having hair falling out on his legs. He had some rat bites on him, as well as he was over 15 pounds overweight," she said.
Claims Marshall vehemently denies.
"Hap didn't live in that kennel. Hap lived in the house with me," she said.
She says rescue puppies lived in the kennel in question. They were treated by a vet, groomed, and given away. Her ex-husband, who's also a former Montgomery County deputy, says the county has this all wrong.
"They can say whatever they want," John Nichols says. "And I worked there. And I like the people there, but she took good care of that dog."
"It's not about a grudge. It's not about politics. It's about Hap," says Marshall. "And Hap deserves to be with someone who loves him enough to subject themselves to this type of scrutiny. I've really put myself out there for the well-being of the dog, and I hope people understand that."
"We evaluate our dogs on a regular basis. And there has been no discussion of retiring Hap right now at this point. When that discussion comes up, then it will be a decision made by Sheriff Tommy Gage," adds Capt. Silvio.
There's no formal adoption process. The decision of who gets Hap, and any retiring K9 officer, is up to Sheriff Tommy Gage.