Veronica Seward was horrified when she saw her 2-year-old pit bull bleeding profusely, laying motionless in a pile of his own feces inside a cramped cage at the Detroit Animal Control Shelter.
Her beloved dog, Major, was dying.
Blood seeped from a metal cage to a drain, and the normally perky pet barely noticed his companion, who surreptitiously shot video of the squalid conditions.
Seward rushed Major to an emergency veterinarian, but it was too late. Major died on Saturday.
Mayor Mike Duggan, who has been aware of the inhumane conditions and shoddy management, declined to comment until more information was available.
“The very serious claims against Animal Control are being looked into,” Mayor Duggan spokesman John Roach said Sunday evening. “There isn’t much more we can say right now regarding the case until all of the facts have been assembled.”
Detroit police, who are handling the case, won’t return phone calls. On Sunday, two employees at the shelter near the Ambassador Bridge locked the doors and wouldn’t answer questions.
Animal Control employees seized Major for allegedly biting a woman after her grandchild came to the front door of Seward’s home on Kentucky Street on the city’s west side. The dog ran outside. The extent of the woman’s injuries – if there were any – wasn’t clear Sunday.
Seward was cited for failing to provide a leash, harboring a vicious dog and having an unlicensed pet.
Animal Control workers told Seward that Major would be held for 10 days to ensure he didn’t have rabies or any other diseases.
What happened to Major isn’t yet clear. Seward believes neglect and maybe the parvovirus played a role. Sores and scrapes were found on Major from the unkempt, cramped cage.
Detroit Animal Control 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.
The city last month threatened to seize dogs from a respected rescue group but backed off after public pressure.
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.
To express concerns about Animal Control, call the mayor’s office at 313-224-3400.
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.