After a long delay due to a rescheduled court date, a case between two Drew men was settled at the Sunflower County Justice Court in Indianola Monday.
Tension has been running high between Drew citizen Jim Dutton and city dogcatcher Floyd Fedrick since Dutton charged Fedrick in late July for allegedly confining animals without food or water at the city dog pound.
The case was originally scheduled for August but could not be heard because of scheduling conflicts related to system judges and Fedrick's attorney.
Judge Gwendolyn Pernall ruled Monday that Fedrick was not guilty and he was cleared of the charge.
"I feel great now that the charges were dropped," said Fedrick. "I'm still upset because of all of his allegations and the smearing of my name.
"I've been cleared because there was no evidence against me. I feel good — case closed."
But Dutton claimed he was shammed when he wasn't allowed to exhibit his evidence in court.
"I have collected a lot of evidence and documents since the abuse started, but the court wouldn’t allow me to present it," said Dutton. "I may need to take this to the department of justice."
Living conditions for the dogs and operational procedures at the pound have been highly debated topics in Drew for quite some time, causing the board of aldermen to shut the pound's doors for more than a year.
Fedrick still holds the title of dogcatcher but said he no longer captures dogs nor gets paid now that the facility is closed.
He has also worked full time as a city employee in street maintenance for the past 13 years.
Despite the closing, dogs have appeared in the pound multiple times, including in July (prior to charges brought forth by Dutton) when Dutton was charged by Fedrick for destroying city property and trespassing when he cut locks in an effort to provide food and water to dogs that Dutton said were extremely malnourished and living in filthy conditions.
Drew Municipal Judge Boyd Atkinson ruled Fedrick had no authority to charge Dutton and he was cleared of July's charge.
Dutton, who does not work for the city, has volunteered substantial time trying to care for many of the stray dogs that plague the city's streets.
Now that the case against Fedrick has been dropped, Dutton said his focus "is moving forward to make sure no more harm is done to animals."
A nonprofit community group known as Second Chance Animal Rescue Shelter (SCARS) was started by Dutton in late August in effort to create a humane shelter to control overpopulation by using humane tactics instead of the "capture and kill" methods.
The group still meets only a monthly basis to develop solutions.
"We have a bank of people ready to share ideas, time and money to make this happen," Dutton said.
Fedrick, however, said Monday's ruling indicates the pound may reopen early in 2013.
"Hopefully we'll be opening back up soon," said Fedrick. "Everything he's been saying is a big lie — a scandal. It's over with and we're ready to go on with life."
Dutton continues to struggle with the opposition he faces, especially since the pound was voted closed, but said he will keep fighting for humane solutions to Drew's dog problem.
"I know I've completely destroyed my credibility with the city government and it's unfortunate we can't work together," said Dutton. "We'll continue to try and find families for the dogs through out-of-state adoption programs and hopefully find ways the existing dogs can live out their lives in safe environments."