AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

When neighborhood blight is so bad a wild animal kills your dog

A story published in Sunday’s paper showed how on Atlanta’s Westside, residents are finding out they don’t truly hold title to their homes --  a legal problem that makes them vulnerable to scammers and locks away thousands of dollars of wealth that these assets could bring them.

The residents I interviewed made this discovery after signing up for grants to repair their homes.  In exchange for the money, they would have to stay long term.

It's worth noting that while taking money from this program might seem like a no-brainer, it's not. Staying is a sacrifice. Extreme blight in these neighborhoods has created problems that few would imagine exist across the street from the site of the new Falcon’s stadium and blocks away from the high-rent apartments of west Midtown.

Consider the case of Patricia Campbell, who moved into her mother’s home after she died in 2009. Her mother left behind a dog, which Campbell took in.

Campbell would like to build a fence with money from the grant program, but not for the reasons that most dog owners do.

“I want to keep things out, not in,” she said.

Nature has reclaimed many of the abandoned plots in English Avenue. On Lindsay Street, where Campbell lives, kudzu grows so thick and tall that it’s hard to tell whether some lots have homes. Campbell said she spotted what she believes were wild turkeys strutting on her street, and saw a trio of giant owls eyeing a puppy that stayed for a time at her house. They looked hungry.

One night, when she let her mother’s dog into her backyard to do its business, it let out a yelp and vanished. A wild animal had sprung from the bush, plucked it from her yard and killed it. They found its body nearby.

“I live in the middle of nothing and nowhere,” Campbell said.

Reader Comments ...

About the Author