Protesters expressed their displeasure with Mayor Saenz-Lopez outside city hall Wednesday night, but were silenced during the hearing of visitors portion of the meeting. Photo by CHRISTOPHER MAHER

Council meeting 'pawsed' by Puddles protesters

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

For the second consecutive Alice City Council meeting, protesters stood outside city hall Wednesday to demand Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez return a dog she allegedly took from a local family.

Saenz-Lopez has been accused of taking a ShiTzu named "Puddles" from a neighbor earlier this year, after she allegedly told the family the dog had died.

Alicia Cavazos, the grandmother of the children who owned the dog, stood with more than 20 protesters in front of city hall waving signs, as drivers passing by honked their car horns in support.

"This is so she can see we have a lot of supporters," Cavazos said of the protest.

If she were allowed to speak with Saenz-Lopez, Cavazos said she would have a simple message.

"Give my grandchildren back the puppy," Cavazos said.

During the hearing of visitors portion of the meeting, Zulema Chapa attempted to address the mayor concerning the dog. Saenz-Lopez refused to allow Chapa to speak, however, and ordered police officers to remove her from the council chambers when she refused to stop speaking.

"You cannot discuss this, this is a private matter between me and my neighbors," Saenz-Lopez said.

Several other members of the public were also escorted out of the council chambers after yelling questions at the mayor regarding the dog.

"If you can steal a dog, you can steal our taxes," Chapa said. "She ought to be ashamed of herself."

Before the meeting, Saenz-Lopez told members of the media she would speak with them following the meeting. After the meeting, however, Saenz-Lopez said she could not comment on the issue on the advice of her attorney.