For Ailing Detroit, Yet Another Problem: Stray Dogs

The city that is now dealing with bankruptcy and a shortage of funds to provide basic services has the additional matter of 50,000 stray dogs roaming the streets.

Posted: 08/30/2013 05:27 PM EDT

In addition to financial distress and bankruptcy, Detroit has yet another issue to add to its list of troubles. The city now has a more than 50,000 stray dogs roaming the streets.

It is a highly vexing problem for a city whose financial resources are too inadequate to deal with basic city services. Detroit is a city of more than 70,000 abandoned buildings and $18 billion in debt.  

As more and more people left Detroit — and more found themselves too financially pressed to take care of pets — the number of stray dogs soared, Detroit officials say.

“The city understands the problem concerning stray dogs and the need to address the problem,” said Erin Stephens, a spokesman for the city of Detroit, in an interview with BET.com. “We’re working diligently to resolve the problem.”

Roughly 90 percent of the stray dogs are pit bulls or mixes of pit bulls, according to officials at Detroit Animal Control, which is the agency responsible for responding to the ever-increasing calls about the city’s dog population.

The agency says that 70 percent of the stray dogs that are taken in are euthanized within a week if there is no owner to claim them.

Officials in Detroit explain the dog crisis as a byproduct of the larger economic crisis that has affected the city in general. 

The problem is compounded by the fact that the city has less money to address the problem than it did just a few years ago. In 2009, the city had 15 animal control officers to collect the stray dogs around the city. This year, that number is down to four workers.

“It’s very much a problem that students and parents are very concerned about,” said Maurice Morton, the chief executive of the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences, in an interview with BET.com.

“We have had incidents of kids who were being chased by dogs and kids who have been afraid of dogs on their way to school. It poses a real concern for our students and their parents.”

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(Photo: REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez)

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