May 29, 2023

Emotions high as Walton residents discuss dog shooting at meeting

The town of Walton held their council meeting Monday, June 6. Many attended to voice their displeasure over the shooting of a dog in May that had escaped from its owner's yard while she was at work.

Members of the Walton community called for the removal of town marshal Tom Heflin during the Walton council meeting Monday night, June 5.

The requests stemmed from a May 9, 2023, incident in which Heflin shot a dog that had jumped a fence and escaped its yard. A standing room only audience was on hand to voice their objections to the shooting.

Megan Landis, the dog's owner, was in training at a new job last month when she received a call from Cass County Dispatch that her dog was loose.

Landis said she was talking to Heflin in an attempt to make arrangements to get her dog when he allegedly informed her he had shot the dog because it was being aggressive.

Landis said she found her dog in a lot beside her house. The dog had been shot three times, twice in the side and once in the head.

"Chance was our family member," Landis said during public comments. "He wasn't just a dog or a pet. He played with us. He slept with us. He ate with us."

One woman in attendance had pictures of the dog and his gunshot wounds on her phone and showed those photos to the council members.

When asked if he had ever had a dog, board president Vincent Beeson said he grew up on a farm surrounded by animals and each animal served a purpose. He was then asked if he ever considered an animal as a family member.

"It is an animal," he replied. "They are an animal. They don't have our rights. They do not have the authority to make decisions."

Beeson later appeared upset when people compared their pets to children.

"Sir, I’m not going to deal with this comparing a child to a dog," he said, before being drowned out by many in attendance.

At one point a man told Beeson to shut up. The pair had had a tense confrontation earlier in the meeting when the man alleged that Beeson had raised his voice toward him.

While many were angry with Heflin, one woman said that he was always there to help her during a time when she was dealing with a stalking issue.

Heflin was not present during public comments but did briefly appear at the council meeting to give a report on recent crime and emergency statistics.

The town of Walton is in the process of applying for a competitive state-wide grant administered by the Indiana Office of Community & Rural Affairs that is funded with community development block grant dollars. The grant supports projects that benefit low to moderate income residents.

The grant would allow the town to slip-line over 12,000 feet of pipes, which would keep water from leaking into the sewage system. When additional water leaks into sewage it overtaxes the sewage plant.

The grant would also allow for over 40 manholes to be fixed so that water does not leak through them.

The council requested that if any Walton residents have witnessed or experienced flooding such as street flooding, basement flooding, water discharging from a manhole or if a resident has spent their own money to replace plumbing in their home to please submit a letter about their experience and how the problems affected them at the town hall (100 Depot St.) and also include pictures if possible.

Personal experiences and pictures detailing how residents and their homes have been impacted are important to filing a successful grant application.

The council described slip-lining as placing rubber tubing within the pipes. When hot water runs though the piping the rubber will inflate to form a PVC-style pipe that will stop leaks.

The council passed Ordinance 22023-01, which would establish a fire hydrant rental fee.

Walton residents would receive an additional charge of $2.57 each month on their water bill. The fee will be enacted beginning next month.

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The town of Walton