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    Posted September 23, 2013 by
    Detroit, Michigan

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    Animal Rescue Groups Take On Detroit’s Stray Problem

    Detroit is making headlines again, this time due to claims of 50,000 strays roaming the “post-apocalyptic” streets, but many local animal rescue groups aren’t listening to the hype or dwelling on the numbers. Instead, they are in the communities responding to calls daily to rescue injured, abused and abandoned dogs.

    “The latest news stories have created a huge buzz about the stray problem and now everyone wants a quick fix,” said Bill Bellottie, Director of Operations and Co-founder of Detroit Bully Corps. “The reality is that Detroit is no different than other large cities and this is nothing new. Detroit has had stray dogs roaming the streets for as long as I can remember. Even rich cities like Houston, where I lived for 10 years, have a larger stray population than Detroit. This problem was not caused by socio-economics.”

    Animal rescue organizations around the metro area are working independently to do what they can to help combat the problem. Detroit Bully Corps works with Detroit police and fire departments to rescue dogs found on the streets, especially the American Pit Bull Terrier. They also run a community outreach center located in the city with another animal rescue, Dog Aide, to provide pet food, supplies and other resources to dog owners in need.

    “We are the ‘dog’s aides’, people who contribute to the fulfillment of a need or furtherance of an effort or purpose, said President of Dog Aide, Jen Clarkson. “‘To aid’ is a verb, ‘aide’ is a noun. Being a part of Dog Aide is not what we do, it is who we are.”

    Dog Aide's mission is to educate dog owners, identify needs of communities, supply owners with food and daily care items, provide information about access and financial help for routine veterinary care, and network with rescues and community organizations to ensure the care for owned and stray dogs in Detroit.

    Clarkson added, “We recognize that all rescues and shelters have their strengths and areas of opportunity. We choose to operate with transparency, accountability, and integrity. We define ourselves by our met goals and achievements. We believe the outcome of our actions and the scope of our outreach determine our success as a network and partnership. We are committed and dedicated to making a difference in the lives of dogs in Detroit.”
    Detroit Area Welfare Group (DAWG) is another group that rescues unwanted and neglected dogs from the streets of Detroit. DAWG volunteer Lori Stephens described two of the dogs in their care, “Dresden had a severely embedded choke collar found living in an abandoned house in one of Detroit's most dangerous zip codes, and Ezekiel’s teeth had been ground to the gums making him a defenseless bait dog in illegal dog fighting.”

    DAWG also supports the dogs of Detroit on a regular basis by providing dog food, flea prevention, and other supplies to owners in need, police and fire departments, and other rescue groups, such as C.H.A.I.N.E.D. Inc. and Dog Aide.

    Providing for Paws uses community outreach to help keep dogs in their homes by delivering pet food, medical care and other resources to pet owners in need. Like most rescue organizations, Providing for Paws relies on the generosity of others to fund their operation through donations. Providing for Paws hopes that by giving families the tools they need to keep their animals in the home, this will avoid animals being left behind and abandoned, or being taken to a high-kill shelter, which also provides relief to the rescue community.

    Joanne Dixon of Providing for Paws said, “Although rescuing animals is not our primary goal, we do take in stray animals from time to time. If a stray is found by one of our staff or volunteers, and we cannot find a rescue to take this animal in, we will not take them to a high-kill shelter where they are often put down. We will take them in, give them the medical care they need, and find them loving forever homes.”

    In fact, just a few days ago Providing for Paws was called by Detroit police to help rescue a rat terrier known as Patty that was found partially skinned alive from ear to ear, and a couple days later a male dog named Jack found with a broken femur abandoned in a house.

    Dixon said, “Despite servicing six counties in the metro-Detroit area, most of our clients are within the city of Detroit, where a number of volunteers live and see strays daily. When our volunteers find strays, they often provide temporary homes, until a rescue group can be found to take them on.”

    Courtney Protz-Sanders, Executive Director at Paws for Life Animal Rescue, said, “We have been called in by contractors to empty houses of feral cats so that the structures could be torn down without harming any lives. We have numerous volunteers who work in Detroit and have weekly encounters with an animal in need that requires our help. In all cases these animals are suffering from a medical problem and/or behavior issues that requires longer-term support and assistance than the average rescue animal found in a shelter.”

    In addition to rescuing abandoned dogs and cats from Detroit, Paws for Life also assists dogs living in the city by providing dog and cat food free of charge to other rescue groups that feed abandoned pets and dogs that live their lives chained outside.

    Waggin’ Tails Dog Rescue does their part by providing spay-neuter services, supplies, and monetary assistance for medical care to individuals with pets in need or directly to other rescue/shelter organizations. Their organization has also assisted with property clean up, collected food and supplies, provided pet care education and built doghouses to help care for the dogs living in the city of Detroit.

    “We are a small, all-volunteer, foster-based rescue that takes in all breeds of dogs,” said Jodi VonWihl, Vice President of Waggin’ Tails Dog Rescue. “Our objective is to provide safety for homeless dogs within our foster care program where dogs remain until adopted to a forever family. We receive many pleas for assistance for dogs in Detroit and we strive to place as many as we can.”

    Home FurEver was officially started in 2003 and has rescued, rehabilitated and re-homed almost 4,500 dogs and puppies. At any given time, Home FurEver could have 90-130 dogs in their foster care program, making them one of the largest foster-based rescues in the metro area. All of their financial support for food and veterinary care comes from donations and fundraising.

    Home FurEver Coordinator Raegan Myers said, “We do not discriminate against any dog or any breed; we give everyone a chance to live a normal, healthy life. Our dogs primarily come from the rough streets of Detroit. We find some as strays running the streets or in abandoned houses or automobiles. There are occasions when a dog rescued is in very poor health. Other groups may humanely euthanize the dog, but our dedicated vets do everything they can to save our dogs so they can start their lives over with a loving family. We also take in dogs periodically from kill shelters, other rescues and owner surrenders.”

    4 Paws 1 Heart helps the strays of Detroit by funding medical treatment at an emergency hospital in Wayne County for abandoned and stray animals found predominately in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties.

    “4 Paws 1 Heart also assists rescue organizations and animal control officers by providing medical dollars for the animals they have rescued,” said Diana Rascano, 4 Paws 1 Heart President and Co-founder. “We also work with other animal rescue organizations to help find permanent homes.”

    Detroit Bully Corps Co-founder Missi Bellottie said, “As a rescue community, if we are going to find a solution or solutions for the stray problem, the focus has to remain on the dogs. If we continue to build partnerships and tap into resources outside of this area, we can come up with solid, viable solutions that benefit the dogs and the entire community.”
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