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'He's all I have:' This man lost everything but his dog. Many want it taken from him.

Anna Douglas, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

Dina Castanas, a Dilworth resident, recently organized a community meeting where animal control officials faced criticism from nearly 25 outraged neighbors who want Levi out of the crate.

"It's an animal caught in the middle. Levi has no voice and no choice in the matter," she said.

A city law says owners cannot keep dogs outdoors in crates or carriers.

But Josh Fisher, director of Animal Care and Control, says enforcement is only needed if the dog is "suffering" or its owner is neglecting or abusing him. Animal welfare officers have visited the dog almost daily, he said, in answer to calls complaining the crate is not big enough for Levi to stand upright, or turn around in.

Those officers have found Levi up-to-date on his vaccinations, in good health and with a good disposition, Fisher said.

Animal Care and Control is right to consider Lord's desire to keep his dog, says Allison Winston, with Urban Ministry Center of Charlotte, a nonprofit group that works to end chronic homelessness.

Lord's situation, although distressing, is not uncommon among people who lose their jobs, homes or other stability, she said. People trying to help them, she said, may not realize how long it can take to build rapport and convince homeless people to try something different.

And even then, next steps aren't always immediately available: Urban Ministry's wait list for housing includes at least 240 people.

"People on this list ... They are literally dying on the streets," Winston said. "People respond differently when there's an animal involved. I find it surprising that so many people are up in arms about Alan and Levi when there are so many homeless people around Charlotte."

Is Levi suffering?

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