Rescue dogs spared from police seizure at last minute

dog-detroitDetroit police avoided a potentially ugly standoff with an animal rescue group Monday after a last-minute decision to call off the seizure of dogs over paperwork issues.

Police told us Monday evening that they are taking Detroit Dog Rescue up on its offer to meet to hash out differences that animal advocates feared would result in the seizure and euthanasia of recently rescued dogs – a threat made by the head of Animal Control, Harry Ward.

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

For reasons that still remain unclear, Ward came to the rescue in military fatigues last week, flanked by two Animal Control officers, and insisted the group didn’t have paperwork to show where some of the dogs originated. Expect the dogs to be removed, he warned.

Police, however, said today they prefer a peaceful resolution.

“We are going to schedule a meeting within the next couple of weeks and work together to form a partnership with some of the nonprofit groups,” Detroit Police Sgt. Cassandra Lewis told me. “Until we have that meeting and see what we can work out, we are going to leave the dogs where they are for now.”

At issue is paperwork that shows where some of the dogs originated. Detroit Dog Rescue doesn’t have paperwork on at least one animal to protect police and firefighters who turn neglected or abused animals over to the group – against city policy – because they have a no-kill policy. About 75% of the thousands of dogs dropped off annually at Animal Control are euthanized.

5 reasons Detroit Animal Control can’t be trusted

Rescue volunteers were encouraged by the police department’s responsiveness Monday and said they hope to convince city officials to make the shelter more humane and permit police and firefighters to send the dogs to rescues groups. They also hope to meet with Mayor Mike Duggan, who has dodged questions about the issue since last week.
buy priligy online no prescription

“We can find a home for healthy dogs that don’t pose dangers to the public,” said David Rudolph, a longtime volunteer and spokesman for Detroit Dog Rescue. “It’s not the dogs’ fault when their owner leaves them behind. They shouldn’t be killed.”

Detroit euthanizes about 4,000 dogs a year, some of them puppies and healthy, according to the Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development. So many dogs are euthanized that their carcasses have been shoveled into dump trucks and incinerated.

Rescue volunteers said reform won’t happen until Ward is removed from his position. In November 2011, Ward ignored a public outcry to save Ace, an emaciated, stray pit bull whose cowering image was aired on TV news and became a popular cause on social media. Ward steadfastly refuses to adopt out pit bulls.

He couldn’t be reached for comment.

Rudolph said Ward should be replaced with someone with a rescue background.

“Animal Control needs someone who cares about protecting homeless and neglected dogs,” Rudolph said. “I think it would warrant having someone from the world of rescue, looking out for the best interests of the public and the animals.”

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.

4 Responses to "Rescue dogs spared from police seizure at last minute"