Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

Dogs deemed vicious by a city court, some ordered to be euthanized for their violent attacks, are still living in Nashville neighborhoods, a News4 I-Team investigation found.

Jennifer Windh was stunned to find out that the dog that attacked her dog Basil, and ordered to be euthanized, was allowed to instead continue living right next door.

Injuries to Windh's dog

Injuries to Jennifer Windh's dog Basil. (Photo submitted)

“It feels a little bit like a ticking time bomb,” Windh said.

Windh said she was walking in her home with Basil with her next door neighbor’s dog ran up and attacked.

Windh, who is pregnant, said she was unable to free her dog from the attack until the neighbor ran over and called off the attacking dog.

Windh then filed a complaint with the city, and a referee, the equivalent of a judge in the city’s environmental court, ordered that the attacking dog be euthanized.

But Windh said she later learned that her neighbor appealed the decision, and another referee reversed the decision, still deeming the dog vicious but allowing it to live in the neighbor’s home penned up.

“I think there's a very loose approach being taken to these dangerous animals across the city,” Windh said.

Olivia Thomas said she too was surprised to learn that the two dogs that killed her family pet were allowed to live just down her street.

Thomas, who is also pregnant, was walking her family’s dog when the two dogs attacked.

“She (the family dog) just couldn't take it. We had to put her down,” Thomas said.

Thomas' dog put to sleep after attack

Olivia Thomas' dog was put down after being attacked by two other dogs. (Photo submitted)

Thomas said she expected the dogs to be euthanized, but instead, they are allowed to live down the street but penned up.

“I've never seen evil like that, like aggressive. And I can't get the image out of my head,” Thomas said.

A News4 I-Team analysis of all the cases of dogs deemed “vicious” by the courts found 57 allowed to keep living in Nashville neighborhoods.

Our analysis found most of the court deemed “vicious” dogs were found in 37013 (Antioch) and 37217 (Percy Priest).

Referee Renard Hirsch said he understands why people who have had their dog attacked are upset when the attacking dog is allowed to live in their neighborhood.

“Again, it depends on how severe the attack. How vicious was it? We have cases where the attack stops after one bite. In that case, it's not as alarming as perhaps a case where the attack continues until the dog is incapacitated,” Hirsch said.

Though ever case is different. Hirsch said if a dog kills another animal or won’t stop during at attack, then it’s usually euthanized.

If not, the attacking dog is ordered to be penned up or always remain on a leash outside.

Hirsch understands people are also surprised to learn that his orders to put a dog to sleep can be appealed.

“Sometimes again, they can appeal my decision to another court. And get a new trial,” Hirsch said.

Windh, who is due any day now with her first baby, said she will be nervous walking her child through her neighborhood.

“I have a lot to lose. Really serious, bad things can happen too small children,” Windh said.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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