The campus where I worked was downtown, however our sports facilities were a mile away, in a more industrial area. On one weekday, we received a call of some kind of disturbance from a homeless encampment just outside the baseball field, on a set of old, abandoned railroad tracks. With very little information available, three of us responded out there and found the tent set up just on the other side of the fence from the University property.
We contacted a young woman, Brenda, and a young man, Danny, who had been inside the small encampment and explained that we were there because the landscapers had thought that there was some kind of drug transaction going on inside. Both denied that any drug transactions were occurring, but of course, Danny did have a baggie of methamphetamine in his pocket (a felony at that time). Also, based on the fact that neither of them could identify the other and that the Brenda had a history of prostitution arrests, that a transaction had been in progress and that no cash had been needed.
Now, during this whole interaction, Brenda had been holding a tiny and adorable puppy. The puppy seemed very comfortable in her hands and as I watched the puppy, she asked if I wanted to hold it. I took the puppy for a few minutes, just as a third person arrived on the scene. This man identified himself as the owner of the encampment and said his name was Anthony. My officers asked him if the methamphetamine also belonged to him. Anthony said, “No,” but that the puppy was his. One of the officers spoke with Anthony for a few minutes and determined that he had a warrant for his arrest.
The officers with me arrested Anthony for the warrant and Danny for the methamphetamine. We didn’t have any evidence of crimes committed by Brenda, so she wasn’t going to be headed to jail. I asked Anthony if he wanted me to take the puppy to the Animal Shelter or if I should see if Brenda wanted to care for him until he was released from jail. Anthony considered it for a moment and then asked if I could give the puppy to Brenda temporarily.
I went to Brenda and asked her if she could take care of the puppy as I handed it to her. She looked up at me quizzically. “Am I going to jail?”
“No. Just them. Can you take care of the puppy temporarily?”
Brenda looked at me with an expression that said, “I’m not going to jail AND I get a free puppy? You are the best police officers ever?”
And with that, she headed down the street with puppy in hand and a smile on her face.
I don’t know if Anthony ever got that puppy back.