Detroit, Gone to the Dogs?

220px-Stray_dogs-pups[1]Has Detroit really gone to the dogs?

Last week Bloomberg ran a story claiming that the city is overrun with stray and abandoned dogs — 50,000 of them to be exact. The information came from Harry Ward, the Detroit Animal Control division director. That number raised some eyebrows. The estimate had been floating around in the community for several years, and Ward supplied a conjectural formula to support the figure:

His estimate equates to one abandoned dog for every 14 Detroit residents. It’s about 360 stray dogs per square mile in the city.

With 78,000 abandoned buildings, 65,000 vacant lots, and fully one third of the Motor City, over 40 square miles, having gone to the weeds — whose to say it hasn’t gone to the dogs too? Human flight from the city has moved it from the fourth largest city to the 18th. Many of the canine residents were simply left behind.

The World Animal Awareness Society is stepping-up and launching a digital scientific survey of the situation. They have recruited and trained 20 volunteers to work with about 100 residents who will fan-out across the city counting dogs on Sept. 21st and 22nd.  The Detroit Free Press reports:

To get the estimate of stray dogs, the city will be divided into 41 regions and within those areas, there will be 50 predetermined points where volunteers will look for dogs and count them.

Methods for collecting the data come from MSU’s Center for Statistical Training and Consulting and will allow researchers to look for patterns such as what elements attracts stray dogs

The economic disaster in Detroit in many ways parallels what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans — just without the storm surge. Post-Katrina, the Big Easy had a much bigger dog problem. As of a year ago, the number of animals impacted by the storm is estimated at 600,000, a figure that makes Detroit’s potential 50,000 look not so far-fetched.

Whatever number the official survey renders, it will be too many animals suffering needlessly. And it’s not just dogs. A large exotic cat is roaming neighborhoods in the northeast Detroit area. The Free Press published a picture of the unidentified animal snapped on a resident’s smartphone.

How to help:

If you wish to help the Detroit strays through donation or adoption, you may do so at Sadly, due to health and socializing problems, not all animals will be suitable for new homes, and some will have to be euthanized.

Amy Kerr Hardin

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One Response to Detroit, Gone to the Dogs?

  1. Lee Tilson says:

    Amy, I am asking for your help. This “dog story” is nuts. I live in downtown Detroit. I have not yet seen a stray dog, though some friends have. We are reading all kinds of new versions of this story all over the internet.

    How are we being overrun by something I cannot find? What do we need to do, post pictures of streets without any dogs? Where do these national publications get this nonsense?

    One blog piece even said we have a dearth of functional plumbing. Huh? Mine works fine. My neighbors tell me their toilets are working fine. From where does this nonsense originate?

    Here is another:
    I e mailed this to the author of the blog piece that appeared in the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

    I live in downtown Detroit. I have not seen any stray dogs, anywhere. I know they exist, but I have not seen them. I have looked at your web page. You seem to have some reasonable views on things. However, your portrayal of Detroit seems to bear no relationship to at least 98% of the city. Such is the reporting on our city. Do you have any suggestions? How can Detroiters do something to repair our image?

    This is nuts. If you were here now, we could drive for days and not see one stray dog. We have problems. Most major cities have problems. We have more than our share. But there are many virtues about Detroit that are never reported.

    Help. What do you suggest?

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