- Author of Waller's manuscript rewarded for helping feds (1/13/18)
- Police: Man dies from self-inflicted gunshot after standoff in south Cape (1/14/18)3
- MCA calls for protection of those found not guilty of animal abuse (1/10/18)2
- Scaling up: Long John Silver's adding an A&W (1/10/18)3
- Southeast to cut workforce to meet budget needs caused by state cuts (1/10/18)7
- Word to your superintendent: Glass rocks Vanilla Ice parody to announce cancellation (1/13/18)2
- Business Notebook: New rooftop restaurant to be atop Marquette Tower (1/8/18)2
- Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes commitment to community at annual awards banquet (1/13/18)
- Church, businesses set up pop-up homeless shelter as winter storm approaches (1/12/18)1
- Plaintiffs' attorney wants jury to see basement steps at Cape courthouse (1/10/18)
After losing job, ex-mayor in dognap scandal loses the dog
McALLEN, Texas -- A custody case that wrecked a small-town south Texas mayor's political career ended Thursday when she was ordered to return a Shih Tzu to her neighbors.
Grace Saenz-Lopez, the former mayor of Alice, had claimed Puddles died last year while she was pet-sitting for the neighbors. Three months later, however, a relative of the neighbors saw the dog, renamed Panchito, at a grooming business.
Saenz-Lopez insisted that Rudy Gutierrez and Shelly Cavazos had neglected the animal, but District Judge Richard Terrell in McAllen ordered her to give the dog back to the couple.
"She's broken-hearted, man," said Homero Canales, Saenz-Lopez's attorney, but he added that his client would comply with the order.
Canales added that the judge "admonished us for making a big deal out of a dog case." The lawyer's wife delivered the contested pooch Thursday afternoon.
"I think everybody is just delighted," said Dee Ann Torres, the owners' attorney.
The case gained national attention, including on NBC's "Today" show, on which Saenz-Lopez said in February, "I didn't steal the dog. I did not return him to save his life."
Saenz-Lopez resigned as mayor that month once a recall petition began circulating. She had held the office since 2003.
Torres said Gutierrez and Cavazos cared for the dog as well as Saenz-Lopez did.
"She is in no way a humanitarian in taking this pet away from its owners," Torres said. "They love that little dog."
Saenz-Lopez still faces two felony counts of tampering with evidence and concealing evidence. A preliminary hearing on those charges is scheduled for Tuesday.