Hazel Park man opens animal shelter in his home

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
Dan DuChene, left cq, hands out treats to the roaming puppies as his son Barry Duchene cleans up an accident.

H azel Park — A Hazel Park man is giving new meaning to the phrase "home is where the heart is."

Barry Duchene has started a nonprofit called New Directions Animal Rescue to help unwanted pets — and he's using his house as a shelter, at least temporarily while he raises money for a permanent facility.

"I'm limited by space in how many dogs I can take in," Duchene said.

So far, Duchene has taken in three adult dogs and seven puppies, in addition to three dogs of his own. One of the puppies, named Ariella, was adopted out last week.

All of the puppies are a mix of Labrador, Rottweiler, Doberman and American bulldog. Duchene has given the dogs he has taken in names like Chevy, Brutus, Petey and Red.

City officials had no comment Tuesday about Duchene's project, but a spokesman in the Hazel Park City Manager's Office said it will look into the situation.

However, residents are allowed a maximum of three dogs, cats or a combination of the two pets under the city's ordinances. The city's laws also require all dogs and cats to have a license and prohibit animal kennels in residential areas.

A trio of puppies eats food set out by Barry Duchene.

Duchene, 41, said he's aware of the city's regulations and plans to move his shelter in the summer.

He said he started New Directions Animal Rescue as a no-kill animal shelter last year after a friend asked him to help find one for a boxer named Sugar. "I started looking into animal rescues in the area and they were all full," Duchene said.

After trying for a couple of months to find Sugar a home, Duchene made two decisions: He would keep the dog as his own and start his own animal rescue shelter.

"I thought I couldn't be the only one looking for a dog rescue," he said. "Imagine what happens to those animals that people can't find a rescue to give them to."

New Directions received its 501 (c) (3) nonprofit designation in November.

Duchene said his rescue's goal is give love, care and shelter to unwanted or abused animals and find them permanent homes. It's the first animal rescue Duchene has managed, but he said he has done research and is learning as he goes.

Due to space limitations and to keep the animals safe, he currently only accepts dogs.

To adopt pets from New Directions, potential owners must fill out an application that requires answers to questions like "Who is your veterinarian?," "How many hours of the day will the pet be home alone?" and "Are you sure you are ready to provide a lifetime commitment of time, finances and emotion for this pet?"

The form also asks applicants how they feel about the spaying or neutering of pets. All of New Direction's animals are spayed or neutered before they're adopted, Duchene said.

The application fee is $75.

Duchene also contacts potential owners' veterinarians to find out if they kept up vaccines for other pets.

Once that's done, he visits potential owners' homes to make sure they're safe and caring environments for pets.

Most of New Directions' funding comes out of Duchene's own pocket.

He suffers from a degenerative back condition and collects Social Security disability. He said he's had two surgeries on his neck and one on his lower back.

A puppy hides under an easy chair at Barry Duchene's home.

Duchene said he supplements his income by working odd jobs and selling things on Craigslist.

Some additional funding comes from donations, he said.

Duchene said he hopes to move by the end of summer into a Detroit-area commercial building where he can shelter between 75 and 150 dogs and cats.

He also envisions part of the building will be used for a thrift store and its revenue will support the animal shelter, he said.

"That's my end result for this," Duchene said. "And once I'm in a building, I'll rescue any animal."


(313) 222-2058

New Directions Animal Rescue

For information, log on to www.facebook.com/NewDirectionsAnimalRescue or go to www.newdirectionsanimalrescue.com/. To volunteer or make a donation, call the animal rescue at (586) 329-0468 or email NewDirectionsAnimalRescue@gmail.com.

Source: New Directions Animal Rescue?