PuddlesIn a scandal that began last summer, focused the eyes of the world on tiny Alice, Texas, and forced the mayor’s resignation and indictment, the end has finally come.

Last summer, the then mayor of Alice, TX, Grace Saenz-Lopez, was asked by neighbors, Rudy Gutierrez and Shelly Cavazos, to dog-sit Puddles, their little Shih Tzu, while they went on vacation. Just a day later Saenz-Lopez called and told her neighbors that the dogs died and she buried it in the back yard.

Three months later things started getting hot when a relative of Cavazos saw Puddles at a dog groomer. When confronted Saenz-Lopez refused to return the dog.

Gutierrez and Cavazos then file criminal and civil suits against Saenz-Lopez. The situation continued to spiral out of control with Saenz-Lopez accusing her neighbor’s a neglect, saying the dog would have died, then saying the dog was missing which eventually turned up at her twin sister’s house leading to the indictment on two felony counts of tampering with evidence and concealing evidence, a mayoral recall and finally her resignation from the office she’d held since 2003.

Yesterday District Judge Richard Terrell finally put an end to this debacle and in a minimum of time told Saenz-Lopez to return the dog to her rightful owners, Rudy Gutierrez and Shelly Cavazos.

“(Terrell) admonished us for making a big deal out of a dog case,” said Homero Canales, attorney for former mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez.

“I think a lot of this is just plain ridiculous,” said the judge, Richard C. Terrell of District Court, faulting both the former mayor, Grace Saenz-Lopez, and her neighbors, the original owners, Rudy Gutierrez and Shelly Cavasos, for not resolving the dispute out of court.

Puddles arrived home several hours later, delivered by Ms. Saenz-Lopez’s lawyer, Homero Canales. “He’s sitting on the couch looking at the kids go back and forth and barking,” Mr. Gutierrez said.

Saenz-Lopez and her sister still face a preliminary hearing on on the felony charges which is scheduled for Monday.

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