Having worked in the animal welfare business in the city of Detroit for nine years before moving to California, I thought I had seen the worst when it comes to overpopulation of animals. At the animal shelter I managed, we would often take in 100 animals a day. After the former auto-manufacturing powerhouse declared bankruptcy in July of this year, forcing cutbacks in many services, one of them being dog control, the situation has turned dismal.

The City of Detroit’s Animal Control had to stop taking in stray animals for a month this summer because the kennels were full and the city wasn’t able to pay the bill to haul away the euthanized animals. Sadly, Animal Control officers’ jobs have also been cut, meaning more stray dogs are roaming the streets. Four years ago, the city had 15 Animal Control officers who would round up strays; today they have only four.

Almost 2 million people used to live in Detroit. Now it’s closer to 700,000. And tens of thousands of buildings have been abandoned, some of which have been taken over by stray dogs. The combination of the economic loss and the cutbacks to Animal Control have resulted in an estimated 50,000 dogs wandering the streets of Detroit, many of them in packs.

The stray-dog problem in Detroit has gotten so bad that most postal workers arm themselves with pepper spray to avoid getting bit. Detroit ranks sixth on the 2012 U.S. Postal Service list of cities with the most dog attacks on mail carriers. Bloomberg reports that some mail carriers have stopped delivering to certain neighborhoods altogether to avoid packs of vicious once-domesticated Chihuahuas. According to Bloomberg, “Twenty-five mail workers suffered dog bites between October and July, the same month the pound stopped accepting canines.” And just as things seem to be getting worse for dog bites, two dog-bite investigators’ jobs were cut.

Thankfully, there are animal rescue groups trying to tackle the stray-dog situation in Detroit. The no-kill organization Detroit Dog Rescue focuses on raising awareness of the mounting homeless and stray-dog problem in Detroit, along with advocating for humane rescue alternatives such as no-kill sheltering, foster care and adoptions, pet identification, and healthy pet population control through spay and neutering. Detroit Dog Rescue also specializes in community outreach, and they work closely with city and statewide organizations in order to educate and involve people in this cause. For more information or to donate, visit www.detroitdogrescue.com.

Although Detroit Dog Rescue is working to raise awareness and help find homes for the tens of thousands of dogs who are in need, it is obviously an overwhelming problem that requires help from many organizations. The Michigan Humane Society is another organization that is helping to make a dent in this situation. The Michigan Humane Society cares for more than 100,000 animals each year through their life-saving programs and services. They are a private, nonprofit organization that has been serving the animals and people of metro Detroit and beyond since 1877. They receive no government funding and depend on the generosity of individual and corporate supporters to fund their programs and services. If you would like to help, visit www.michiganhumane.org

Although it’s easy to turn a blind eye to the stray-dog situation in Detroit, the circumstance is unlike one experienced in a modern American city. The drastic social and economic changes that the city has undergone have left Detroit unable to solve many of its residents’ problems, so consequently the plight of the city’s animals has been reduced to an afterthought. It is unlikely that the problem of Detroit’s stray animals and the residents they terrorize will be solved without help from the outside.

Adoptable Pet of the Week


Peaches is a purebred miniature poodle who was abandoned at the shelter after her beloved owner passed away. Peaches was suffering from some medical issues and was overly stressed at the shelter so K-9 PALS rescued her, put her in a foster home, and took care of her medical needs, and now Peaches is looking for a forever home. Peaches is very sweet and gentle and quiet. She is spayed, about 10 years old, and weighs about 20 lbs. She is a very quiet, low-energy dog and is looking for a quiet, loving forever home. She walks nicely on leash and likes leisurely walks that are not too long or strenuous. She enjoys the company of other quiet, calm dogs and would likely be able to live with a cat and any kind of small animals. She is just waiting for a kind and loving person or family to adopt her and give her the good life and forever home that she very much deserves.

To learn more about Peaches, or other similar dogs for adoption, email adoptme@k-9pals.org, or call 805-570-0415, so we can help you find your new best friend. To view other dogs for adoption from K-9 PALS and dogs that we courtesy post for other shelters and rescues, visit the K-9 PALS website at www.K-9PALS.org .

K-9 PALS – (K-9 Placement and Assistance League, Inc.) is an all-volunteer nonprofit 501C3 organization that provides veterinary care, behavior training, rescue, foster, adoption, and advocacy for homeless and abandoned dogs from county shelters. K-9 PALS receives no government subsidies, none of K-9 PALS funding goes to employee salaries, and all K-9 PALS donations go directly to benefit the dogs to save lives and reduce the number of abandoned and homeless dogs in shelters. K-9 PALS financial support to accomplish our mission is solely dependent on donations and charitable giving.

K-9 PALS has monthly Adoption & Community Outreach events every First Saturday at Pet House, monthly adoption days at Petco 5 Points, and other special adoption events throughout the year. Check our website or Facebook page for K-9 PALS events.

K-9 PALS provides four free dog-behavior training sessions for people who have adopted a dog from any shelter, rescue group, or humane society, so contact K-9 PALS if you want to take advantage of this great offer when you adopt a dog.

If you are not looking to adopt, please consider being a donor or volunteer for K-9 PALS to help us in our mission to provide care and services for homeless and abandoned dogs in our communities.

For more information about K-9 PALS, go to www.K-9PALS.org or call 805-570-0415, or K-9 PALS on facebook. Donations are gratefully accepted through PayPal, or to K-9 PALS P.O. Box 60755 Santa Barbara, CA 93160-0755.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.