Distraught Over Dog's Death, Couple Wants Officer Fired

A Texas couple, whose sick dog died as the pair waited along a Texas roadside while a police officer wrote them a speeding ticket, said they are not satisfied with how the officer involved was reprimanded and believe he should be fired.

Michael Gonzalez and his girlfriend were pulled over as they raced to an animal hospital, near San Marcos, Texas, allegedly at speeds up to 100 mph, Aug. 5. Gonzalez is seen on the police dashboard camera screaming hysterically that the dog, a 3-pound teacup poodle named Missy, was dying.

"It's just a dog, you can get another one," Officer Paul Stephens is heard saying.

"What I think is fair — I would just like to see the officer held responsible for the way he treated us," Texas State University student Michael Gonzalez told "Good Morning America" I feel that an oral [reprimand] really isn't a punishment at all. It's nothing really."


Though officer Paul Stephens' supervisors found him not guilty of misconduct in the incident, the police officer was ordered to undergo counseling.

"His world was collapsing. And what the officer says to him, basically is, 'I don't care,'" said San Marcos Police Department Chief Howard Williams.

The Back Story

Gonzalez and girlfriend Krystal Hernandez were trying to get Missy to an emergency pet clinic after she began choking on her food and struggling to breathe.

A distressed Gonzalez said he called a New Braunfels, Texas, veterinarian and described the dog's symptoms as he drove but had to pull over when Stephens flagged him for speeding.

The officer's dashboard camera captured a visibly emotional Gonzalez, who was shaking, franticly asking for aid for Missy.

"She's dying," Gonzalez said.

"Who's dying? Relax," Stephens said.

"My dog," Gonzalez responded.

The tape shows Stephens telling Gonzalez to calm down and reprimanding him for endangering other motorists with his driving.

"You're driving down the highway at 100 per hour," he said sternly. "It's a dog. It's OK. You can get another one. Relax."

Gonzalez, who admitted he was speeding, was shocked at the officer's response and said he believed the officer mishandled the situation and lacked empathy.

He added that Stephens asked him if he was on drugs, which Gonzalez found disrespectful.

"I was distraught, but I believe he abused his power when he came out yelling at me. I don't agree that's the way he should have handled the situation," Gonzalez said on "GMA" today. "I admit that I was speeding, and I apologize for that. But it was it was an emergency."

For 20 minutes, Gonzalez and Hernandez waited. A crying Hernandez remained in the car's passenger seat and pleaded with the officer to let her leave Gonzalez and use the car to continue on to the vet.

The police officer said he couldn't do that, and the couple continued to wait. During that time, Hernandez said the dog died in her lap as she sat in the passenger seat. Gonzalez had given Missy to Hernandez as a graduation present.

"I don't think it should have taken 20 minutes. I just think he was deliberately trying to delay the time we needed to take Missy's life," said Hernandez. "I think he was just trying to show he was in control."

The pair believes the delay cost its beloved pet her life. Gonzalez said the veterinarian told him there was no way to know for sure if the dog would have lived if not for the delay. But Gonzalez believes Missy may have had a chance.