Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Alice Echo-News Journal
The Jim Wells County Attorney's office reviewed the incident involving Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez allegedly taking a neighbor's dog and decided it was not a criminal case.
In a written statement to the Alice Echo-News Journal, Jim Wells County Attorney Jesusa Sanchez-Vera wrote, "Our office received the report from the Alice Police Department earlier today (Thursday). After our review it was determined that this is a civil matter and should be resolved in that forum."
According to the police report filed Oct. 31, Rudy Gutierrez, a neighbor of Saenz-Lopez's, informed officers he believed the mayor had taken his dog.
Gutierrez told officers he discovered the dog was still alive.
The report was initially classified as a civil matter, but on Nov. 2 that classification was changed to "theft." On Friday, Sanchez determined the matter was a civil case.
Although Saenz-Lopez's name does not appear in the report, Gutierrez confirmed she was the subject of the report in an interview.
Gutierrez said he and his wife purchased the dog in June for $350, but it soon became ill.
The dog was taken to a veterinarian and was given injections, and Gutierrez was given medication to continue giving to the dog. He, his wife and their four children went on vacation for the weekend and asked Saenz-Lopez to watch the dog and administer the medicine. While on vacation, Gutierrez called Saenz-Lopez and was told the dog had died, Gutierrez said.
On Oct. 31, the individual who sold the dog to the Gutierrez family saw the dog at a local grooming shop and informed Gutierrez. The groomer informed Gutierrez that Saenz-Lopez had dropped the dog off that week.
Gutierrez has said he tried to call the mayor several times, but she wouldn't return his phone calls.
Gutierrez said the dog is being held at the grooming shop until the issue is resolved.
Attorney Homero Canales has confirmed he is representing Saenz-Lopez and said he hoped to resolve the issue with Gutierrez.
Mayor Saenz-Lopez directed questions to her attorney.