Family: Traffic stop ended with family pet dead

Thursday, July 24, 2014
Family: Traffic stop ended with family pet dead
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A family says an officer's actions during a traffic stop led to their dog's death

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Ten days ago, a traffic stop forever changed the life of a Houston family and they say, cost the life of their pet.

Josie Garcia says her husband often took their Chihuahua, named Guero, for rides. On Sunday, she says he left a family party to give a friend a ride. Guero, as usual, was in the SUV.

A few minutes later, Garcia says an HPD officer pulled over the truck for failure to use a turn signal. The vehicle was searched, and prescription medication she says belonged to the passenger was found. Both men were taken into custody.

Guero, she claims, was taken out of the truck that was about to be towed and left on the side of the Highway 59 feeder road near Collingsworth.

"My husband pleaded with the officer to let him call someone to come get Guero, and asked him to call Barc (Houston's animal shelter), but he said it wasn't his problem, that the dog would be fine," Garcia said.

Three days later, after someone responded to a 'lost' sign Garcia has left around Fifth Ward, she was told where she could find Guero. She was also told he didn't make it. She found him on a shoulder of the Eastex Freeway. The dog, which was nearly blind from cataracts and old age, had been hit and killed.

Garcia cried as she told the story of wrapping his body in a towel and taking him home, where the family buried him.

The story doesn't end with his death. Instead, it has a new chapter.

Garcia filed a complaint against the officer with HPD Internal Affairs.

Tuesday, she spoke before City Council, compressing her story into three short minutes. It got an immediate response from Mayor Annise Parker.

"Let me give you a public apology right now on behalf of the city of Houston," Parker told Garcia. "I don't know what airhead -- there's another word in my mind but I'm not going to say it -- would throw, you wouldn't put a kid on the side of the road. You shouldn't put someone's pet on the side of the road."

Council members are asking that if a policy regarding pets caught up in police activity isn't clear, it should be.

Garcia says she is glad someone is listening, and recognizing that for a lot of people, pets are part of the family.

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