At this rate, there will soon be more stays than people in Motor City.
As many as 50,000 stray dogs roam the streets and vacant homes of bankrupt Detroit, replacing residents, menacing humans who remain and overwhelming the city’s ability to find them homes or peaceful deaths.
Dens of as many as 20 canines have been found in boarded-up homes in the community of about 700,000 that once pulsed with 1.8 million people. One officer in the Police Department’s skeleton animal-control unit recalled a pack splashing away in a basement that flooded when thieves ripped out water pipes.
“The dogs were having a pool party,” said Lapez Moore, 30. “We went in and fished them out.”
Poverty roils the Motor City and many dogs have been left to fend for themselves, abandoned by owners who are financially stressed or unaware of proper care. Strays have killed pets, bitten mail carriers and clogged the animal shelter, where more than 70 percent are euthanized.
Arrington said when she visited Detroit in October, “It was almost post-apocalyptic, where there are no businesses, nothing except people in houses and dogs running around.”
She said pet owners who move leave behind dogs, hoping neighbors will care for them. Those dogs take to the streets and reproduce. Compounding that are the estimated 70,000 vacant buildings that provide shelter for dogs, or where some are chained without care to ward off thieves, Ward said.
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.
Mail carrier Catherine Guzik told of using pepper spray on swarms of tiny, ferocious dogs in a southwest Detroit neighborhood.
“It’s like Chihuahuaville,” Guzik said as she walked her route.
“Technically, it’s illegal to let a dog roam, but with the city being bankrupt, who’s going to do anything about it?” Huston said.
Welcome to Detroit. The nation’s first Obamaville.