The attorney for Grace Saenz-Lopez filed a cross-action suit Friday afternoon with the 79th District Court asking the court to enter a finding of abandonment against Rodolfo and Shelly Gutierrez, and grant ownership of Puddles/Panchito to Saenz-Lopez.
Attorney Homero Canales alleges in the filing that when the Gutierrezes delivered Puddles to Lopez on July 11, the dog "was visibly in poor health, anemic, flea infested and in a state of malnutrition."
The filing alleges the Gutierrezes left no instructions concerning the dog when the family left on vacation.
"The Gutierrezes' obvious overt conduct is tantamount to common-law abandonment of their ownership and claim on this dog," the action states. "Lopez proclaims all rights, title and possession to Panchito, as her domestic pet against the whole world."
The filing came just three days before Saenz-Lopez and the Gutierrezes were scheduled to be in court over the dog. The hearing is scheduled to take place before Judge Richard Terrell in the 79th District Court on Monday.
The initial lawsuit was filed Dec. 13 by the Gutierrez family, who said they purchased a full-breed Shih Tzu named "Puddles" in July last year, and asked the mayor to watch the dog while they were on vacation, during which time the mayor told the family the dog died.
In October, the family learned the dog was still alive and had been kept by Saenz-Lopez, who renamed the dog "Panchito."
A whirlwind of events took place in the months that followed. Protesters lined the street outside City Hall during city council meetings. A recall petition against Saenz-Lopez was successfully circulated. Saenz-Lopez and her sister, Gracy Garcia, a Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco school board member, were indicted, arrested and charged for allegedly trying to conceal the dog.
And, Saenz-Lopez resigned as mayor.