Metro agency, couple debate whether their wolf dogs are 'wildlif - WSMV Channel 4

Metro agency, couple debate whether their wolf dogs are 'wildlife'

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A debate has been going for months between a Metro agency and a local couple. Are their pets wildlife? Are they too dangerous for Davidson County?

"I'm certainly accustomed to it, but everyone who's not certainly likes the music," said Steve Easten, listening to the howls at his Sojourn wolf dog sanctuary in Pegram.

Easten said there's only one day left before two wolf dogs, Zeus and Apollo, leave the sanctuary.

"You sure do make a mess," he laughed, watching the two playing in the mud. "You do make a mess. You like the mud, don't you? These are the ferocious puppies right here."

He said he wishes things could go differently.

"I feel bad for anyone who's forced to give up animals they love," Easten said.

"We've got five acres here and seven acres altogether," said Karen Chase, walking along her property in Antioch. "I was constantly checking on them."

Until recently, Zeus and Apollo lived with Chase and Will Leseman at their Old Franklin Road home.

"We'd walk them all around, all around this property," she said.

Chase said after Metro Animal Care and Control workers saw Zeus and Apollo, she was cited with harboring wildlife.

"She says, 'This dog's got way too much wolf in him,'" said Leseman, referring to a Metro officer.

"They are rural domesticated dogs," Chase added.

A representative for Metro told Channel 4 there were six running at large citations, some called in by neighbors and other instances seen by an officer himself. Chase argued Zeus and Apollo were only off the property once and were cited the other times while still on their acreage. Metro also alleged the dogs didn't have proper shelter in a citation. Chase said the dogs stayed in two barns on the property.

In court, a judge dismissed the wildlife citations but still ordered Chase to give up the animals based on Metro's testimony that the dogs are inherently dangerous.

"They've never bitten anybody," Chase said.

"The kids come over and play with them," Leseman added.

Easten has had the animals since then and volunteered as a court witness, claiming they're not dangerous and never hurt anything.

"That'd be like saying a house cat is a tiger," Easten said. "These are domestic-based animals. When it goes on and on and on because they don't want to admit they're wrong, I think that's a little unfair."

A representative for Metro said, while it's not confirmed to be Zeus and Apollo, some other animals were hurt and killed in their Antioch neighborhood. The rep went on to say that and the at-large citations are the reasons they call the two dangerous.

"They don't know how to be mean," Chase said. "They're not even a year old. It broke my heart, and it's still breaking my heart."

Thursday, Easten said Zeus and Apollo are headed to an animal trainer for TV and film in Canada.

"They're going to be in movies," he laughed.

Easten added he wishes this hadn't happened to Chase.

"I don't see them ever letting me have the dogs back ever," Chase said. "They're going to fight me tooth and nail. They took my animals away from me, which has never happened in my life, and I'm not understanding it."

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