Shih Tzu debate leads to legal action in Iredell

Shih Tzu debate leads to legal action in Iredell

The director of Iredell County Animal Services and Control and a disgruntled dog owner are pursuing legal action against each other after a reported altercation Friday at the agency’s Statesville headquarters.

Each man claims the other was responsible for escalating a heated exchange.

Both parties agree that Mark Jackson, 40, of Troutman went to the facility Friday morning to inquire about his 9-pound Shih Tzu, Grizzly, which authorities removed from Jackson’s home a day earlier after a neighbor reported being bitten by the dog.

But that’s where the accounts diverge.

Jackson told the Statesville Police Department that he refused a request by Iredell Animal Services Director Brad Gates to take a seat in the lobby. Jackson added that he followed Gates to another room and again refused to sit down. Jackson said that’s when Gates, 52, pushed him then slammed his hand in a door.

Gates, 52, told the Record & Landmark that Jackson caused a disturbance when he “aggressively interrupted a meeting” in a non-public part of the building, then refused repeated requests to return to the lobby. Two employees called 911, he added.

Gates said Jackson finally followed him to the lobby and eventually left.

“There was no physical altercation with Mr. Jackson involving anyone on our staff, nor myself,” Gates said.

Jackson swore out a warrant charging Gates with simple assault. Gates said he is in the process of taking out a warrant against Jackson for communicating threats.

Interim County Manager Beth Jones said Tuesday that there has been no change in Gates’ job status.

“The county is working with Mr. Gates to rectify the matter,” she said in a statement. “But it is a personal legal matter and the county does not intend to comment on it further so as not to hinder the legal process for Mr. Gates.”

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