First chickens, goats, now this: Detroit threatens to seize rescued dogs

Thousands of stray, hungry dogs roam Detroit's streets. By Steve Neavling/MCM
Thousands of stray, hungry dogs roam Detroit’s streets. By Steve Neavling/MCM

Since Mayor Mike Duggan took office in January 2014, his administration has gone after goats, chickens, legally painted murals, business signs and now rescued dogs.

Detroit Animal Control, which has a long, ugly history of confining dogs to filthy conditions and euthanizing virtually all of its animals after only a few days, plans to seize rescued canines from a no-kill shelter.

Mayor Duggan
Mayor Duggan

Why would the city go after one of the city’s most respected shelters, the Detroit Dog Rescue Mayor Duggan’s office deflected questions to the police department. We are awaiting a response from the PD.

Sources said the mayor’s administration gave the green light for the removal of dogs from the rescue group because it doesn’t yet have paperwork for all of its animals.

The city also ordered police to stop handing over dogs to the rescue group and instead take them to Animal Control, which euthanizes most of its dogs.

If the city moves forward with its threat Monday, it could get ugly. The Detroit Dog Rescue is not about to hand over its animals to a city that has a long, cruel history with canines.

“Detroit Dog Rescue is resolute in our mission as a no kill shelter to never bend, break or fold under the threats of Harry Ward, director of Detroit Animal Control – who has a nearly 100% euthanasia rate and wants to remove dogs already rescued and force them into certain death,” the group said on Facebook.

The Detroit Dog Rescue has saved countless animals. Sometimes the dogs are stranded in abandoned houses or found roaming the streets with no shelter or food. They’re often abused and starving.

When the city seizes dogs, it usually euthanizes them within a few days.

“Disgusting. Dont do anything to improve ur rep Detroit, murder capital is a title you apparently want to keep, man or animal. Just kill it,” Facebook user Amal Hammoud Berry wrote.

In October, two Animal Control officers seized goats and chickens without warning from a Detroit couple because the city has an ordinance prohibiting  “farm” animals that aren’t “securely under restraint” by a trained professional.

Also in October, Mayor Duggan declared war on murals that were painted on buildings with permission in the Grand River Creative Corridor but blamed it on his staff after a public outcry. But a day before we broke the story, Duggan’s office was well aware of the crackdown and said it wasn’t backing down.

Mayor Duggan’s zeal to crackdown on ordinance violations also led to a threatening letter to the city’s beloved John K. King Used & Rare Books because it had proudly posted a banner that read: “Named #2 book store in the world by Business Insider.” Such signs are prohibited in the city without a permit.

Animal Control didn’t respond to our calls for comment because Mayor Duggan has barred the department from speaking to the media.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Carole Kronberg

    “Did you come in peace, or are you here to seize me?”

  • Visual Ronin

    While I can not defend the actions of Harry Ward or the DAC for their atrocious record of dealing with stray animals in the city of Detroit, I must also note that your biased reporting towards Hush, Rinaldi and the DDR is overwhelming.
    Because of a combination of being brash and confrontational along with his partial notoriety as a menial rapper, Hush has worked to garner a reputation for DDR as the be-all, end-all animal rescue group in Detroit.
    To be fair, there are at least a dozen other animal – primarily cat and dog – rescue groups in the city that the DAC is also cracking down on. But because of DDR’s popularity, it is the only one being reported on by the media.
    A little journalistic due diligence will reveal that DDR has a reputation for having illegally removed animals from owner’s homes and yards that DDR has determined using their own criteria as being unsafe for the animals or that the home-owner is a hoarder. DDR and Hush also have a reputation for being confrontational with other animal rights groups and individuals and for having gotten into fisticuffs with activitsts and docuemntary film crews.
    AAA (All About Animals), DAR (Detroit Animal Rescue), Metro Area Animal Adoption Agency, FFDAS (Dearborn Animal Shelter), MHS, and even Sasha Farms have all had issues with both DDR and the DAC.
    And yet you will continue to only report and promote one side of the story. Shame on the Muckraker for a lack of journalist integrity. I would expect more from you, Steve.

  • LAHeat

    WTF is going on? Seizing dogs from a shelter? Don’t give up anything without a search warrant! There is a pesky little thing called the U.S. Constitution. And it’s time for someone to get a TRO to stop this silliness by the Mayor’s office! Also time to bring in the big dogs, (no pun intended) like PETA and turn a larger spot light on this illegal activity of seizing animals and destroying them. Politicians don’t like bad PR and Duggen is no different!

  • cleaner

    Steve, where is the physical street address for Detroit Animal Control. I can’t seem to find a listing. And thanks for all of your honest reporting.

    • muckraker_steve

      Not sure of the exact address but its in the shadow of the Ambassador Bridge in southwest Detroit.

  • Jennifer Winston

    Aww no..I had faith in Mike Duggan and believed in him that he was going to make Detroit a better place. I believed in his intelligence and character. .now I can see he’s just like any other politician. .gets elected, changes his tune and now he’s going to take the cowardly way out. Last time I checked, the Mayor was superior to DPD. Apparently only when it’s convenient. Now he’s going to hide behind DPD and let them be the bad guys. He knows it’s wrong and that’s why he’s hiding. This is so wrong on so many levels. Not only does this hell hole for animals need to be shut down, but they are going to take animals that have been cared for and rehabilitated by a facility who actually cares about animal welfare! You all do know that it’s all about a power struggle and the almighty dollar right? They get paid for every dog they get and they just want to get as many dogs as they can, put them down, repeat. But i bet you my life they like a few of them running loose so they can can point fingers and say, “see?! Look at these savages terrorized the streets of Detroit! The city needs us!” They are banking on the fact that we are all a bunch of idiots, incapable of figuring out their greedy motives. Please prove me wrong, Mayor Duggan!

  • maggiemay

    They are also forbidding police to give dogs they find in dope raids to rescues. Detroit Animal Control used to adopt to people but that ended when Harry Ward took over. Harry Ward hates pit bulls and thinks they all should be killed, he’s even stated that. DAC also does not scan for microchips, which a lot of pets have. It’s a horrible place and very few animals get out alive. I find stray dogs in Detroit all the time and always call a rescue to take them, but apparently that’s against the law.

  • jenjen 313

    What the hell is up with this mayor and his people? It’s like they are completely tone deaf to the values Detroiters have. Going after a dog shelter when the city’s shelter sucks? Some paint on a building in a part of down that’s been damn near decimated? Somebody’s pet goat? It’s almost like a few high ups said fuck Detroiters, we’ll remake this city with our own values and priorities, and here’s a few cultural changes we can start with.

    • bebow

      Have you ever called on the mayor or any of his people with a service request or complaint? I believe they only respond for New Detroit.

  • bebow

    It’s unfortunate the elected and appointed won’t direct any of that energy on the dopeman, his Neighborhood Criminal Network, and the swirling herd of imported prostitutes.

    Still waiting…

    Meanwhile, the NCN continues tearing up the neighborhood, attacking, and driving decent residents out.