Neighbors: Dogs In Dilapidated Home Terrorizing Neighborhood
by Todd Walker
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Dogs running wild, neighbors living in fear and the city says there is nothing more it can do.
The owner of 1000 Pennock Avenue in East Nashville has gone to jail at least a half-dozen times for code violations, and Animal Control has been to the home for longer than records have been kept.
Property records show the house belongs to Jesse Lee Johnson Jr. Neighbors say he hasn't lived in it for two years because the roof over the kitchen has begun to cave in.
Neighbors, like Cory Walen, have been complaining for years about the home they say isn't even livable - except for the dogs that wreak havoc on the neighborhood. Neighbors say they are dangerous.
"We've called Animal Control," Walen said. "They come out, but the dogs always manage to get away."
City officials, like Metro Councilman Scott Davis, have tried for years to get Jesse Johnson to clean up his act, but not even jail time seems to work.
"He's being a very bad neighbor," he said. "I hate to say that. He's not helping with our safety issues by letting animals run loose. The law restricts us from going underneath the house (where they hide) and getting the dogs because we will be trespassing on his rights. I've tried luring the dogs out myself with treats."
Kelly Jenkins lives down the street from the house, and says she was bit by one of the dogs about four years ago. She says Metro Animal Control took that dog away, but she says the other dogs are breeding.
"They chase cars, they chase cats, they've killed five of my cats, they've killed several dogs," she said.
NewsChannel 5 got video of the dogs across the street from the house, in someone else's yard. The dogs were eating a cat neighbors say the pack killed overnight. Blood stains were still visible on the sidewalk in front of Johnson's home.
"I actually broke up a fight with another smaller dog in the neighborhood the other night," Walen said. "It sounded like they were getting ready to tear it apart."
So many people have complained over the years. Metro Animal Control says it has been to Johnson's home more than 30 times since computer records started in 2005 and even more times since 2000.
Hope Evans lives a block away.
"I've been chased by these dogs on numerous occasions," she said. "On foot and in my vehicle."
Councilman Davis says he constantly gets complaints about the animals, and the eyesore of a house. The building has dozens of code violations, going back to at least September of 2000.
The city says Johnson has been in jail at least six times for his code violations, but nothing seems to change.
"He goes to jail on a regular basis over his dogs and his yard," Jenkins said. "He doesn't care. It's just like a vacation to him."
The city can't seem to track Johnson down. Neighbors say he only comes around at night.
"They gave him a summons to appear in court," Councilman Davis said. "He never appeared."
Councilman Davis says city departments don't have the power to do anything more than cite Johnson for the violations. He says for those departments to have any more teeth, it has to come from the state level.
"I'm just asking any state agency, please help assist us," he said. "I'm asking our state legislature, please help us. Give more teeth to the Codes Department in the urban areas."
Neighbors, like Kelly Jenkins' husband Robert, have taken matters into their own hands to keep themselves safe from those dogs. Robert Jenkins bought a remote dog whistle to scare the dogs away several years ago. He says he constantly carries it.
"It makes the dogs run, only they can hear it," he said. "If I see them chasing another kid on a bicycle I just hit that button. (The dogs) stop, turn around and run the other way."
Evans, along with plenty of other neighbors are pleading for anything to be done.
"I want to be able to walk my dog without having to avoid certain streets," she said.
NewsChannel 5 tried to get Johnson's side of the story, but was unable to track him down.
When contacted by NewsChannel 5, everyone at the city knew Johnson's address and name as soon as it was mentioned.
The city says it has been dealing with this, unsuccessfully, for years.
Neighbors say one of the dogs is a breeding female, so when some of the dogs are taken by animal control for witnessed attacks, there are more puppies to take their place.
Students in the Academy of Energy and Power at Maplewood are busy getting ready for next week's Project Expo and had the opportunity to show it off some of their projects to Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper.