A Houston police officer did not leave a dog to die after an arrest, as the dog's owner claimed, Chief Charles McClelland announced last week.
Josie Garcia had accused the officer, who'd arrested her husband and a passenger for possession of a controlled substance July 13, of allowing the couple's nearly blind, elderly chihuahua to remain on the side of the road, rather than let a family friend pick him up.
But McClelland said that the results of an investigation show that this was not the case. However, McClelland didn't get off to a fantastic start: he said that the controlled substance charges had "not been dismissed." Yet Harris County District Clerk's records show that the charges against Garcia's husband were dropped August 21 -- the same day McClelland gave the statement -- because his passenger "took ownership of drugs."
C'mon -- if you're going to do an investigation, then make sure you have the facts. But we digress.
"The officer didn't release the dog and leave him next to the side of the road, or next to the street," McClelland said. "The tow truck operator inadvertently, accidentally, opened the door and the dog jumped out."
The chief added that three officers came to the scene and "ran after the dog," but he "ran into a wooded area." He also said "it was night."
We had previously contacted Orozco's Automotive and Storage to hear the driver's version of events, but the woman who answered the phone wouldn't talk to us, and referred us to police. She told us not to call again, so we won't. We'll just report what the Chief said: that this is kind of the driver's fault.
McClelland also said, "Now I'm not trying to make light of this, because I understand how people feel about their pets -- most of our officers are pet owners -- and it's an unfortunate incident. But prior to leaving that scene, also, our officers contacted BARC several times to come out and assist and help find that dog. Our officers have no equipment to snare, catch, capture animal. But they did not leave someone's pet on the side of the street...as was alleged. And I just want to say this: Officer Glover is a great officer, he's a young officer, his supervisors tell me he's one of the best officers at their station."
Couple things: July 13 was a Sunday. BARC is only open until 5:30 pm on Sundays. So if the officers called BARC in hopes of summoning an animal control officer, the call would have needed to be before 5:30. And since it's not dark by 5:30, then what does "it was night" have to do with anything? But if officers' attempts to retrieve the dog were impeded by darkness -- i.e., after 5:30 -- then why were they calling BARC when the shelter was already closed? Sure, it might be nit-picking, but this was quite a lengthy investigation, so you'd think it would all be crystal-clear.
McClelland said that he's previously honored the officer with a Chief of Police Commendation. He added that he called Glover and "it was very disheartening to him to hear the things that people said about him in the media, on social networking, in the newspapers, and the hate emails that this department received. So I want him to know, and I want...all y'all to know: this is why we do investigations. This is why we don't rush to judgment."
Garcia declined to comment, except to say in an email that "we have our attorney looking into records."