Couple Accuses Mayor of Stealing Dog

This is a rush transcript from "The Big Story With John Gibson and Heather Nauert," February 14, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: They had buried the dog. They were devastated until - one of the owners heard a familiar and suspicious bark come from the house next door soon after a relative spotted the pooch at a local groomer's.

JULIE BANDERAS, GUEST HOST: It gets even worse. The neighbor was not just any old citizen. She was actually the mayor of the town of Alice, Texas. Grace Saenz-Lopez now stands accused of dog napping. But she says, she didn't steal the animal, she was, quote, "Rescuing it from its neglectful owners".


GRACE SAENZ-LOPEZ, ALICE, TEXAS MAYOR: I did not return him to save his life. I did not steal it. She turned it over to me. I just did not return it, but I did not go to her house and steal t.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She knows she did wrong. She's just trying to wipe her hands clean from this thing and trying to fight and say, she's a humanitarian now. It's not true. We've done no wrong (ph) in this case; we're going to fight until we get this dog back.


GIBSON: So, is there really a case here? FOX News senior judicial analyst, Judge Andrew Napolitano is here with us now. You have presided over murders, kidnappings -

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO:, FOX NEWS SR. JUDICIAL ANALYST: Never a dog- napping, but you know, I'm a dog lover. And if this case came to me, that dog would have been returned immediately and then, we wouldn't have talk about -

GIBSON: That is a dog-napping?

NAPOLITANO: Sure. Listen, this is semantics to say, I didn't steal it, I'd just didn't return it. Failure to return is the second half of stealing. She obviously stole the dog. She's not in a position to do so because she doesn't like the way the neighbors were caring for it. If the dog was being harmed by her neighbors, she has to file, she is the mayor. She has to file a complaint against them. She can't take the dog away from them.

BANDERAS: Wait. But couldn't the dog owner then call the police and say someone stole my property. I mean, she even renamed the freaking dog from Puddles to Panchito.

NAPOLITANO: Apparently, Julie, that's what's happened. And the judge in the case said, I'm not going to order the dog returned. That is a profound mistake on the part of the judge. A, the dog has to do with the welfare of children - and disappearance of a child. B, it is clear that the dog belongs to the original family and not to the mayor.

GIBSON: Judge, here's the quote: That's my dog in your doghouse. Why can't the owners get the dog back?

NAPOLITANO: You know, John, in some states, there is such a thing as called self-help, meaning, if the police won't do their job, you can do it for them by just going and taking the dog that belongs to you. In other states, retrieving property, even that you know is yours -

GIBSON: Like O.J. -

NAPOLITANO: O.J. Simpson, you read my mind, is a crime, even though you rightfully own the property. So -

BANDERAS: So, as long as she doesn't go over there with a gun and breaking entry into the home, if the dog just happens to be scampering in the backyard and she grabs it, it's OK?

NAPOLITANO: No, it's not OK. She can't go on their property and take the dog. The judge is profoundly wrong to have failed to ordered the dog returned.

GIBSON: That judge out there just needs to straighten up and he should listen to our judge here, Andrew Napolitano, judge, thanks a lot.

NAPOLITANO:: You're welcome.

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