Society

Detroit Study Shows City Strays at 7,500 Dogs and 18,000 Cats

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

Michigan State University researcher Laura Reese, Ph.D., has been studying a Detroit animal-welfare issue for more than a year and has crunched responses from 75 nonprofit animal agencies.

In the first academic study of Detroit’s dog and cat overpopulation problem, the MSU political science professor estimated the number of city strays at 7,500 dogs and 18,000 cats.

Reese said that would mean there are about 54 stray dogs and 129 stray cats per square mile in Detroit’s 139 square miles.

Detroit mayoral spokesman John Roach was asked how often he sees stray dogs and cats, and he replied, “Occasionally, but not frequently.”

Reese emphasized that whether the number is 3,000 or 50,000 (both are previous estimates), the magnitude of the problem is not really what matters. “What’s important is tackling it, with other animal welfare issues," she said. “It’s a sign of disorder in the community.”

TETHERED DOGS FOUND FROZEN

“For the city and its residents to move forward and get out of the current crisis, we need to get out of these disorder issues, whether it’s abandoned buildings or roaming animals," Reese said. "Psychologically, it does not help the city move forward.”

Her study says Detroit needs to do a better job of taking care of stray animals. Public education is also needed in providing care for animals, because tethered dogs have been found frozen to death in backyards.

Detroit Police Department spokesman Sgt. Michael Woody said the city’s animal control division has nine employees: four animal control officers, three supervising officers who monitor the building and handle the animals, one veterinarian, and one investigator.

HIRING MORE ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICERS AND INVESTIGATORS

Woody said the department was never operating at full capacity and now has the money to hire more staff. He said that 10 animal control officers will be hired next month, and that over the next three months, the department should get an additional four investigators.

“Last year, we had 703 dog bites and we had one investigator doing all that work,” Woody said. “The upswing to all of this is we are recognizing the need for the additional manpower in that area.”

Source: Detroit News, Huffington Post