Lexington agencies help man and his dog find new home just in time

jwarren@herald-leader.comMarch 27, 2013 

Jessie Brothers has his dog back; he has been reunited with his son; now he's getting a new home.

The Catholic Action Center, Habitat For Humanity and some volunteers who have been helping Brothers arranged for him to move into a Habitat house in Lexington.

"We took Jessie over to see the house, and he's pretty excited. He's started packing his stuff," said Lexington firefighter Anthony Johnson, part of the group that has been assisting Brothers.

The plan is for Brothers to rent the house, but Johnson said friends are exploring ways for Brothers to buy it. Brothers is to sign a lease Thursday with the Catholic Action Center.

It's all happening just in time.

Brothers' small home on Whitney Avenue, which he had rented for 13 years, was auctioned off Monday in a commissioner's sale. He has 30 days to vacate.

Facing the impending sale, Johnson and other friends had tried for weeks to find another home for Brothers and his little dog, Nubbin. As of late last week, they had essentially run out of options, mainly because most rental properties in Lexington don't accept pets.

Things suddenly brightened when Catholic Action Center co-founder Ginny Ramsey intervened with the offer of the Habitat house. Located not far from Brothers' old home, the house was built by Habitat about 12 years ago and was later repossessed when the owner failed to keep up payments. Catholic Action recently had used the house to help people who needed housing.

"I'm glad we could help," Ramsey said. "Jessie's problem with finding a place was having a dog, and we don't care about that at all. So this house is just perfect for him."

The plan is for Brothers to move in within the next month after some repairs and improvements are made, including the replacement of some damaged cabinets and worn-out appliances, and a new fence to keep Nubbin safe.

"It's a great situation for Jessie, because a few days ago I didn't know what we were going to do," Johnson said. "We were literally at the point of seeing Jessie put out on the street. He would have had to go to the Hope Center or someplace like that."

Johnson said he wasn't sure Brothers could have coped emotionally if he'd had to give up his dog.

Of course, it all started with Nubbin, a 4-year-old Jack Russell terrier that Brothers has had since he was a pup. Nubbin suffered a badly broken leg in late November while chasing a groundhog. Brothers, 65, a retired laborer who lives on disability and food stamps, couldn't afford a complex operation to save Nubbin's leg.

Johnson and another firefighter stepped in to pay for the needed surgery, although it ultimately took three operations to finally stabilize Nubbin's leg.

About the same time, Jessie Kennard, 34, of Oklahoma, saw an online story about Brothers and Nubbin, and he recognized Brothers as the father he had not seen in almost 30 years. Kennard visited Lexington in early December to be reunited with Brothers.

Brothers' problems continued, however, with the prospect of losing his home in a financial dispute between his landlord and creditors.

Ramsey said Brothers will be able to rent the house for about $40 a month, plus utilities, for up to a year. That's well below his rent in the previous house.

Rachel Childress, executive director of Lexington Habitat for Humanity, said a new house did not materialize for Brothers just by chance.

"We actually had contacted a Realtor about putting that house on the market," Childress said. "It didn't work out, but the very next day Ginny called us about Jessie. It's God's timing."

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

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