Mayor accused of stealing neighbors dog

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

An incident report was filed with the Alice Police Department last week alleging Alice Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez stole a neighbor's dog.

According to the report filed Oct. 31, Rudy Gutierrez, a neighbor of Saenz-Lopez's, informed officers he believed she had taken his dog.

The report states that in June, Gutierrez asked the mayor to watch his Shitzu puppy while he went out of town.

Gutierrez told officers the dog had been sick and had been taken to a veterinarian. However, when he returned from vacation, Saenz-Lopez informed him the dog had died.

On Oct. 31, however, Gutierrez told officers he had discovered that the dog was still alive.

The report was initially classified as a civil matter, but on Nov. 2 that classification was changed to "theft."

Although Saenz-Lopez's name does not appear in the report, Gutierrez confirmed in an interview Tuesday morning she was the subject of the report.

Gutierrez said Tuesday 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 a dog resembling his at a local grooming shop and informed Gutierrez.

The groomer informed Gutierrez that Saenz-Lopez had dropped the dog off that week.

Gutierrez stressed he was reluctant to go to the police because he did not want to cause trouble for anyone.

"None of this would have happened if she just would have answered her phone and we would have talked about it," Gutierrez said. "We tried numerous times to call her and she would not answer her phone."

Gutierrez said the dog is being held at the grooming shop until the issue is resolved.

Calls to Alice Chief of Police Danny Bueno and Alice City Manager Albert Uresti were referred to Alice City Attorney Joe Torres III Monday. Torres did not return messages left at his office and on his cell phone Monday or Tuesday morning.

Saenz-Lopez initially agreed to discuss the issue in a meeting scheduled for Tuesday morning, but later cancelled the meeting and referred all questions to her attorney, Homero Canales.

On Tuesday, Canales confirmed he represented Saenz-Lopez and said he hoped to work to resolve the issue with Gutierrez.

"This dispute does not involve the mayor's office. It's a dispute between two neighbors, and we're going to try to work with Mr. Gutierrez and resolve the issue," Canales said. "We will try to resolve this issue if we can. If not, we'll go to the courts."