Detroit animal control joins adoption event to ease 'extreme' overcrowding

Amelia Benavides-Colón
The Detroit News

Detroit — In an attempt to further address "extreme" overcrowding, the city's Animal Care and Control facility is taking part in a national adoption event to get more animals into homes.

Detroit's shelter is among 180 in 38 states participating in the Bissell Pet Foundation's fall "Empty the Shelters" adoption program which kicks off Monday and will run through Sunday. 

The six-day event comes after DACC in recent weeks has waived adoption fees and pleaded with the public to visit the shelter to help ease overcrowding

Since making a plea via social media, DACC said it was able to save 98 dogs and cats from possible euthanasia last weekend.

On Sept. 25-26, city officials said, 44 dogs and 12 cats were adopted; 13 were placed into foster homes; six were returned to their owners; and 23 were transferred to rescues and shelters around Metro Detroit.

Bissell officials hope that with an increase in adoption events, overcrowding can be controlled. 

“(Detroit Animal Care and Control) has been a Bissell Pet Foundation partner for quite some time now, and we know they are currently facing tough decisions and have many wonderful, adoptable pets," Brittany Schlacter, a spokeswoman for the Bissel Pet Foundation told The Detroit News on Friday. 

Detroit's animal control released a statement Friday noting an increased number of dogs have been picked up in the city in the past three months which had led to "even greater issues" with overcrowding at the shelter. 

The site on Chrysler Drive overseen by Detroit's Health Department since fall 2015 has 84 kennels. But late last week, there were more than 170 animals, officials told The News. 

​​​​​​DACC was scheduled for a shelter upgrade, but that was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The city is still planning to make the shelter more functional but "it's not going to happen overnight," said director Mark Kumpf, who joined the city's animal control in September 2019 as its fourth new director in as many years. 

"...we are pretty much always trying to move (animals) out for adoption," he said Friday. 

Animal advocates for years have criticized the DACC operations for 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 deplorable and create a breeding ground for severe illness.

Rinaldi on Friday said a new building is not the solution DACC needs to solve its overcrowding problems.

"What we need are solid programs, solid protocols ... and leadership that appreciates volunteers, appreciates those programs because without that we're not going to solve the overcrowding problem," said Rinaldi, whose group also will be participating in the Bissell adoption event. 

Kumpf noted that the department has 90 transfer partners and has transferred out over 1,000 dogs and cats this year. 

"We understand that we can't do this alone, so we value our partners," he said. 

Last week, several partner rescues took dogs from the shelter to help alleviate its "extreme overcrowded conditions," the city said in a Friday release. Since its partner program began in October 2015, DACC has transferred nearly 8,000 animals to other facilities or out of its site for urgent medical care.

DACC also noted Friday that its monthly live release rate has been more than 90% since early 2020.

Other shelters participating in Bissell's adoption event are Do Only Good Animal Rescue in Oakland County, Macomb County Animal Control and Wayne County-based Saving Kittens & Cats in Michigan.

Bissell launched the quarterly event in 2016 and has helped 61,787 pets find homes in the United States and Canada. 

DACC is located at 7401 Chrysler Drive in Detroit. It's open from 10:30 a.m. - 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 posts pictures of adoptable dogs and cats on Facebook.

Staff writer Mark Hicks contributed.