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N4T Investigators: Hound Crackdown

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Tucson Estates dog owners said they just wanted to walk their pups, but their Home Owners Association won't let them. 

"The dog's feet can't even touch the pavement,” Ann Embury-Lewis,  a Tucson Estates dog owner said. 

"My three little dogs are very important to me. They're like my little kids,” Pam Brown, a Tucson Estates dog owner said. 

"We just want to know why they have that kind of power,” Jesse Lewis, a Tucson Estates dog owner said. 

Dog owners met with the News 4 Tucson Investigators to share frustrations over an HOA rule stating, "all pet owners are responsible for confining their pet to their lotmeaning walking isn't allowed on streets or common areas. 

Instead, they put pups in the car and walk through the neighborhood next door. 

Thomas Turner lives there. 

"Everybody that had a dog walked it. That was part of the dog's health and enjoying the community itself," Turner said. "And I think that should be the same thing here.”

The other option? 

"We have to take them all the way out in the desert,” Lewis said. 

It's across the street and easy to get to during the day. 

The problem is, "when can you walk your dog in the summer? In the daytime like right now? No! So you have to go out either pretty much in the dark. So we're screwed. I can't go out on to our well-lit, well-paved streets,” Embury-Lewis said. 

The News 4 Tucson Investigators met up at night to join dog owners while they walked their pups in the desert near Tucson Estates. We struggled to see through the dark desert. We shined flashlights and tried to stay close hoping to keep wild animals away. 

People who live in the community are 55 or older and they told us they are afraid of falling. 

"A lot of people cannot walk up in the dirt because there are rocks. There's little holes,” Pam Brown said. 

Phil Brown's law firm represents HOAs, and for more than a decade, he's worked on thousands of cases. 

"In Arizona, I've never seen a rule like this,” Phil Brown said. 

But that doesn't mean it is invalid. 

"I knew I couldn't walk my dogs,” Pam Brown said. 

Dog owners knew the rules so, why did they move here? 

Some said it is what they could afford and others said they never thought it'd be enforced. 

Representing herself, Embury Lewis filed a lawsuit against the HOA over the rule. 

A judge dismissed it. 

Now, the HOA has asked that she pay them $17,000. 

Will she? A judge is expected to decide next month. 

The News 4 Tucson investigators reached out to the HOA and they said: 

"We are not available for an interview, but it should be known that Tucson Estates CC&Rs have existed for over 20 years.  There is a clear path in the governing documents to change the CC&Rs, by following the proper path.  We are not interested in being interviewed in regard to our legal and published policies." 

If you have an issue you'd like for N4T Investigators to investigate, email investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.  

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Alexis Berdine

Alexis Berdine is an Investigative Multi-Media Journalist at KVOA.

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