A petition signed by about 30 neighbors of dog rescuer James Sundstrom, who was the subject of an article in the Sept. 4 District Weekly, was recently sent to Councilman John Wilson (D-Ward 2) protesting Sundstrom's "dogs and the dog pound he's trying to start in our neighborhood."
The petition was signed by residents of about a dozen homes on 4th Street NE, where Sundstrom has lived for the past year.
Two of Sundstrom's next-door neighbors and a group of neighborhood youngsters told a reporter that they had no complaints concerning Sundstrom's dogs.
However, residents living about five rowhouses away, on both sides of the street, contacted The Washington Post to say that they "just got fed up with the terrible things James Sundstrom is doing to our neighborhood," one of them said.
"I object to what he's doing to our community," said Reginald Ballard, 58, of 1141 4th St. NE. Ballard, who signed the petition, added: "Sometimes he has left our sidewalks a mess. The food he leaves out for stray dogs and cats attracts rats and mice."
Sundstrom said he does leave food on his front porch for stray animals. "It's my property, and I can do what I want on it," he said.
Jessie Williams, 59, of 1144 4th St. NE, said, "I have nothing against Sundstrom, but this is a residential area and I don't think one person should have more than one or two dogs."
After getting six signatures from supportive neighbors earlier this year, Sundstrom, 54, was issued a building permit by the District government to keep six animals at a time in his two bedroom, single-story house at 1157 4th St. NE.
On Sept. 3, a housing inspector inspected his house and found "no violations."
Though neighbors claim that Sundstrom usually has more than 10 dogs in his house and that his dogs often are a public nuisance, the housing inspector reported he found "no odors and dog feces on the premises" at Sundstrom's home.
Sundstrom's building permit states that if he allows his dogs to "commit a public nuisance on public space or on property under the control of others," his permit may be revoked.
A spokesman for Councilman Wilson said Wilson aides are investigating the complaint by Sundstrom's neighbors and checking with health officials concerning possible health hazards.
Vernice Dickey, who lives directly across the street from Sundstrom, said Sundstrom's dogs "don't mess up the street like most dogs do. His dogs are clean and he takes care of them."
Michael Murphy, 34, of 1147 4th St. NE added, "If the city doesn't object to his dogs, I don't either."