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.