Mayor Duggan: City won’t remove animals from Detroit Dog Rescue – for now

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

The city of Detroit won’t remove dogs from a rescue group and euthanize them over paperwork after all.

Representatives of Detroit Dog Rescue met with Mayor Mike Duggan and members of his staff Wednesday after the city’s Animal Control threatened to seize the dogs this week because the group lacked proper paperwork. Most seized dogs, even healthy ones, are euthanized at Animal Control, which has been criticized for inhumane conditions for years.

“This is an unprecedented day for Detroit Dog Rescue. The staff, volunteers, and board of directors at DDR are all delighted to know we will be keeping the dogs already at our shelter,” said Kristin Rinaldi, director of operations for Detroit Dog Rescue.

The group was under attack by the head of Animal Control, Harry Ward, who showed up last week in military fatigues and two officers and said the dogs would be seized, in part, because the rescue group doesn’t yet have a license to operate a shelter, even though an application is pending before the state Department of Agriculture.

Representatives of the group said Mayor Duggan assured them the dogs would not be seized while the application is being reviewed.

Duggan’s office has dodged questions about the threat of a raid and declined to comment after the meeting Wednesday. It’s still unclear whether Duggan’s office was involved in Animal Control’s threat of a raid from the beginning.

Detroit Dog Rescue also aired their concerns about the city’s high euthanasia rate. The city 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 – 75% that come through the facility near the Ambassador Bridge – that their carcasses have been shoveled into dump trucks and incinerated.

“Our biggest fear was not knowing if dogs we have worked to save at out no-kill shelter would be forced to return to a facility that does euthanize animals,” Rinaldi said. “Mayor Duggan and his staff were very open to meeting us and showed real leadership and commitment to working together to make the system as a whole work better for the residents of Detroit.”


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.

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