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A complaint Monday about a neighbor's dog escalated to a heated confrontation between Benton resident Donald Power and Mayor David Mattingly.
The incident occurred late afternoon on Pope Street, where Power resides. In the center of it all is the future of three dogs.
Power contends that three dogs belonging to his neighbor, Russ Rogers, are creating a nuisance by barking and says one dog in particular is "vicious" and charges at him.
The dogs' owner says the animals cannot leave his property because of an underground electric fence and collars each dog wears that provides an electrical shock if the animals pass near the wire. Rogers also maintains the animals are friendly, not vicious.
On Monday morning, an animal control officer visited the Russ property and, according to Animal Control Supervisor April Hawley the dog identified by Power as being vicious put its paws on the animal control officer's shoulders and "licked him to death."
Mattingly says he decided to personally investigate the situation. Along with Alderman David Sparks and Charles Cunningham, Community Development Director Lamont Cornwell, City Attorney Brent Houston, Administrative Assistant Tina Coston and a representative from The Saline Courier, he visited Rogers' property to see the dogs firsthand.
The animals came out of the house and greeted the mayor and others in a friendly manner. Shortly afterward, Power arrived, standing on the street in front of Rogers' home.
At that point, a conversation between Power and Mattingly ensued. Power maintained that his calls to Animal Control weren't being met with sufficient response. Mattingly said the dogs that Power claimed were vicious had been friendly toward him and showed no sign of anger.
Power had four documents in his hand that he said were complaints not only from him, but from other neighbors who were having issues with Rogers' dogs.
Mattingly said he was aware of Power's complaint, but again had not seen any indication in his visit that the dogs were vicious and was standing by the findings of the city's animal control officer.
At this point, tempers flared. The conversation continued along the roadway in front of the Rogers home. The two men raised their voices and, on one occasion, each used profane language toward the other. Ultimately, Power returned to his home and Mattingly and the other city officials returned to Benton Municipal Complex. The animal control personnel also left the scene.
On Thursday, Mattingly told The Saline Courier that "I'm certainly not proud of my behavior. I lost my temper and I'm not proud of that."
Mattingly stated that Power had been calling the staff at the animal control center about the dogs, stating the issue has been a problem for three years. Rogers, however, said he only moved into the home in April of this year.
According to Mattingly, the first time Power called to report the problem was the prior Friday, July 20. He said Power accused the department of neglecting its duty to investigate.
Power also said he was sorry he had lost his temper in Monday's incident.. He stated his frustration level has risen regarding the animals and maintains the animals are not a problem when the owners are home, but have charged people on his property, including an individual who had come to measure the Power property for a fence on Wednesday.
At press time, the matter remains unresolved.