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 DetroitDogRescue.com. 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