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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

So far, Lord has refused to accept any option that might separate him, even temporarily, from Levi. Case workers at Urban Ministry say Lord also wouldn't let them do an intake assessment in recent weeks that would have helped him get medical appointments, job counseling and other services.

Colder weather is approaching, and Lord says he does not have a plan; last winter, he and Levi stayed temporarily in a Charlotte church's storage area.

A few months ago, the two were featured on a TV news broadcast that highlighted the generosity of a couple helping them. Terri McConnell and her husband estimate they have spent about $3,500 on Lord and Levi, from camping equipment and clothing to hotel rooms and food for them both.

"We didn't mind. But then there comes a point where you're like 'We're throwing good money after bad' ... He's refusing help," McConnell said this week, noting that Lord sometimes argued with her about Levi's welfare. She thinks Levi's living situation is unacceptable and that it's unfair Lord won't take steps to help himself and his dog.

"The more paranoid he gets about someone trying to take that dog, the worse it's getting," she said.

Lord says he doesn't want to remain homeless but is skeptical of people who first offered him help and now are pushing to get his dog taken away.

"We're not breaking any laws," he said. "They're passing judgment."

Fisher, of Animal Care and Control, said his department has been dealing with the situation "on and off" since January. He and others are working on a permanent housing solution, he said, that will allow the two to stay together.

"We're not looking the other way," he said. "But taking Levi away would be a negative outcome."

Fisher said he understands neighbors who want Levi to be outside the crate more.

But "suffering is very much in the eyes of the beholder," he said. To dog owners with big backyards for pets to enjoy and homes where pets sleep and eat comfortably, Levi's situation looks harsh -- but Levi is in good health, Fisher said, and his agency believes Lord is providing adequate care.

If Animal Care and Control took Levi, he said, the dog would have to be observed before being adopted. He, like any other animal, might react badly to a stressful shelter environment, Fisher said. And there's no guarantee he'd find a new home.

"Public safety doesn't always mean taking an animal away," Fisher said. "We want to help try to find some of these community solutions."

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