Detroit's animal shelter over-capacity, seeking more adoptions

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Detroit Animal Care and Control officials are working to deal with an abundance of potential pets at their facility.

City police this week noted on Facebook that the space was experiencing overcrowding.

Adoption fees have been waived as the shelter seeks to address the issue, and that could last "ideally through the end of the month," director Mark Kumpf told The Detroit News on Friday. 

The site on Chrysler Drive overseen by Detroit's Health Department since fall 2015 has 84 kennels. But on Thursday, there were more than 170 animals, Kumpf said.

"In order for us to place animals for adoption, we have to have folks come visit the shelter, and recent weather has certainly not been very hospitable and cuts down on the foot traffic," he said. "One thing the rain doesn't stop is the animals coming in. So, the old cliché about a raining cats and dogs: well, they've been pouring into the shelter. And we need to place anywhere between 15 to 30 animals a day just to keep up with the number of animals coming in."

Rex, one of the dogs that were available for adoption this week.

A planned shelter upgrade was slated to start last year, but was pushed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The city has plans to expand that, but that's not going to happen overnight, so we are pretty much always trying to move (animals) out for adoption," said Kumpf, who joined the city animal control in September 2019 as its fourth director in four years.

Animal advocates have criticized the DACC operations in recent years, citing overcrowding, inadequate staffing and revolving leadership.

In late June, Kristina Rinaldi, head of Detroit Dog Rescue, hosted a news conference to urge city officials to immediately seek out an alternative site for dogs, cats and other animals at the shelter, a former Michigan Humane Society building. 

The rescue group has argued conditions there are poor and a breeding ground for severe illness.

Detroit's Chief Operating Officer Hakim Berry countered at the time that there was not a serious problem with the shelter and said "we have no complaints" from those who have adopted animals from Detroit's animal control. 

Kumpf on Friday attributed the spiking cases plaguing the facility partly to more strays, including 26 brought in within a single day in the last week.

"These are animals that belonged to somebody that weren't reclaimed, and because they weren't licensed or microchipped, we're unable to locate the owners," he said. 

On Friday, 16 dogs and nine cats were sent home to their owners, five went to fosters and 22 were transferred through partners, the director said.

Michigan Humane has also picked up eight dogs since the group had space, Kumpf added. "It really is a community effort."

Meanwhile, an adoption event is planned with the Bissell Pet Foundation next month. Kumpf said his team is "looking for ways to work with our partners work with our sponsors, work with organizations that will help us get animals placed."

DACC is located at 7401 Chrysler Drive in Detroit. It's open from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.  Visitors seeking to foster or adopt are asked to ring the bell at the back door.

Friends of Detroit Animal Care and Control post pictures for adoptable dogs on Facebook.