There are many sad stories coming out of Detroit in the wake of its bankruptcy. Entire neighborhoods abandoned, thousands without jobs, a city without services, it’s a depressing and deserted place, a shadow of the the once great Motor City it used to be. Today a story in Bloomberg shines some light on a terrible side effect of Detroit’s economic collapse that many are unaware of: a massive homeless dog population.
As human residents of Detroit have suffered, so too have their canine companions. Nearly 50,000 stray dogs are roaming the city’s streets, abandoned by their owners when they fled town or could no longer afford to care for them. Innocent dogs left to fend for themselves on the streets of an empty city are traveling in packs, some 20 strong, struggling to survive.
One Humane Society official described the situation as “almost post-apocalyptic,” with homeless dogs moving among the barren wasteland of Detroit looking for food and shelter. To complicate the situation, the city’s animal shelters are bursting at the seems, too full of animals, too understaffed to handle those they have and in desperate need of operating funds.
In July, the pound stopped accepting more animals for a month because the city hadn’t paid a service that hauls away euthanized animals for cremation at a cost of about $20,000 a year. The freezers were packed with carcasses, and pens were full of live animals until the bill was paid.
One of the dominant breeds on the street is the much feared and often abused pit bull, a fixture in the widespread dog fighting rings in Detroit. The dogs, bred for aggression, have disturbed mail delivery in the city with 25 reports of Postal Service employees being bitten. One Detroit resident was scalped by two stray dogs who attacked her on the front porch of her home.
A sad and terrible consequence of a crumbling society, these abandoned dogs are now paying the price for the waste, corruption and mismanagement that has finally destroyed the once booming Motor City.
As a dog owner myself it is heartbreaking to see the desperate position these dogs face. If you would like to help the homeless pets of Detroit, contact the Michigan Humane Society, the Michigan Animal Rescue League or the pet charity of your choice.