Detroit – A dog rescue group in the city is calling for the relocation of animals housed at the Detroit shelter amid allegations the dilapidated building is a breeding ground for deadly respiratory infections and disease.
Kristina Rinaldi, head of Detroit Dog Rescue, said Thursday she was urging city officials to immediately seek an alternative site for dogs, cats and other animals at the shelter, a former Michigan Humane Society that relies on Chrysler Drive.
“This building is deadly to animals,” Rinaldi said at a press conference Thursday outside the Detroit Animal Care and Control building. “For me, someone who has been doing this for 10 years with the city, it almost feels like going backwards.”
Rinaldi said his group and other local rescue partners found dogs at the center infected with “horrific respiratory infections” which resulted in death and serious illness.
“It should not depend only on the relief groups (to be managed),” she added. “There are ways to solve this problem.”
Detroit COO Hakim Berry retorted in an interview with the Detroit News Thursday that there was no serious problem within the shelter.
“We have no complaints from those who have adopted animals from us,” Berry said.
Berry, however, admitted that a mild case of kennel cough had spread to the shelter. He said all the animals were treated.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has not registered any new or ongoing complaints about the Detroit shelter, MDARD spokesman Jessy Sielski said on Friday.
Rinaldi’s no-kill rescue group’s concerns are the latest for the long troubled department, plagued by overcrowding, inadequate staffing and rotating leadership.
Mark Kumpf joined Detroit Animal Control in September 2019 as the fourth director in four years. Kumpf’s hiring sparked protests and an online petition calling for his ouster over his case with the Animal Resources Center in Montgomery County, Ohio, where he was fired.
Kumpf said last fall that the city’s animal control and care operation proved to the public that it was doing a good job. He said, however, that an ongoing challenge was insufficient facilities.
A planned upgrade to the shelter was due to start last spring, but was postponed until spring 2021 due to the pandemic.
Berry said Thursday the city had planned a new shelter instead. He declined to disclose details of his location, funding available for the project or the start of construction.
“We had the opportunity to revisit our plans and come up with a better plan,” Berry said. The plans, he added, are in the final stages of approval. Details will be released in the future, he said.
Kumpf said the current Detroit shelter was not intended as an animal shelter.
Dangerous and distressed dogs, he says, have priority, and the department encourages residents who find dogs to keep them, giving owners, likely in the same neighborhood, a chance to locate them.
Current policy states that voluntary remissions should be referred to the Michigan Humane or the Michigan Anti Cruelty Society, but the policy is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, said John Roach, director of media relations for Mayor Mike Duggan.
Rinaldi has spoken on several occasions of the problems with the animal control facility, which has been overseen by the Detroit Department of Health since the fall of 2015.
The accommodation operation moved in 2016 from an aging building near the Ambassador Bridge to the vacant Humanitarian Society building in the north of the city. The move came amid criticism of unsanitary conditions, unreasonable fees and a high death rate.
In late 2019, the city created a new animal control division to better respond to calls from dangerous dogs and crack down on irresponsible owners.
As part of the restructuring, the General Service Department assembled a team of seven inspectors, one in each of the Detroit Council Districts, to crack down on irresponsible landlords, attend community meetings, speak in schools, and provide an update. neighborhood contact center for residents confronted with roaming dogs. and bites.
The city’s animal care functions remained the responsibility of the Detroit Department of Health, with Kumpf overseeing housing, care and vaccinations, as well as licensing and adoptions.
The city said Thursday that DACC’s live streaming rate was 95.8% through June. This is up from the rate of 92.5% last year and 91.5% in 2020, he said.
Before that, the rate was 76.3% in 2019 and in 2020 it was 15.5%. Rinaldi said she offers her group’s services for free and hopes to sit down with Duggan to discuss options to improve animal care.
She warned sick dogs sent to foster homes or adopted were dangerous and noted that signs on the building encouraging visitors not to drop stray or returned animals were “disservice”.
“We need the pressure to move this building immediately for the animals and the people of the city of Detroit,” she said. “We need change. It has to start now.”