An internal Houston Police Department investigation into a complaint that an officer left a dog on the side of the road to die after arresting the dog's owner could take up to six months, according to an HPD spokesman.
First reported by ABC-13, the complaint stems from the July 14, 2014 arrest of two men stopped near U.S. 59 and Collingsworth, for failure to use a turn signal. The officer found a controlled substance (identified in court records as phencyclidine) on the vehicle's passenger. Both men were arrested, and the 14-year-old Chihuahua (who suffered from cataracts) was left on the road despite the driver's pleas to call his wife so she could get the dog, according to the wife, Josie Garcia.
The dog, Guero, was found dead on the shoulder of an off-ramp about half a mile from where the police officer left him, Garcia says. (Incredibly, the arrest occurred right near the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care. If, as Garcia claims, the officer didn't want his detainee to make a phone call, we don't understand the decision not to call an animal control officer to collect the dog.)
After her husband's arrest on a Sunday, Garcia says, she posted "missing" fliers for Guero in the area where the dog was left. The following Tuesday afternoon, she claims, a man called to say he saw Guero walking upward on the ramp. The good Samaritan tried to scoop him up, but was prevented by rush-hour traffic. By the time he called Gonzalez and got her out to the scene, Guero had been killed, Garcia says.
Garcia asked for a public apology at a public input session before Houston City Council July 22.
Mayor Annise Parker apologized on behalf of the City and stated she wanted to look into "who made the decision to abandon someone's pet on the side of the road." (We also called the towing company, Orozco's Automotive and Storage, to see if we could get more information, but the woman who answered the phone referred us to HPD.)
Internal affairs investigations triggered by complaints could take up to 6 months, if not longer, according to an HPD spokesperson. We can understand why a complex case with multiple witnesses with conflicting stories might be a real quagmire of a case, but, really, to say it could take 180 days to determine whether an "airhead" (to quote Mayor Parker during the public input session) left a freaking dog on the side of the road is a bit of a stretch.
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Yet this is the same police department that failed to investigate 20,000 criminal cases in 2013 and, according to the Chron's excellent reporting on the subject, "barely investigated" nearly 24 homicides "spanning almost a decade."
Yet, both the Houston Police Department and Mayor Annise Parker's office appear perfectly content to allow the very police department that has come under intense scrutiny for how it investigates -- and in some cases doesn't -- thousands of other crimes.
Parker has admirably spoken up about the surfeit of strays in the city, which is why we're surprised she wouldn't want to nip this one in the bud.
We don't understand why a complaint as odd as this is allowed to remain unresolved for more than 72 hours. Either Garcia is withholding part of the story, or just fabricating it outright, or this police officer acted irresponsibly. Call us selfish, but we think the public -- if not Garcia and her husband -- deserves a timely answer.