CITIZEN CALLY: Sniffing around Detroit's Council Candidates

Hey Detroit,
voteIf you’ve seen my photos, you know I’ve been getting to know this city when I’m not hard at work at Canine to Five taking care of your dogs at day care. (Have I met yours yet?)

Turns out, there’s something called an “upcoming election,” which is how humans choose their pack leaders!

As I dug into what this campaign stuff is all about, I realized it’s kind of what we Alpha Dogs do: present ourselves, posture, show our teeth a little bit and then see if we can get the pack to confidently follow us.

I did some serious panting when I thought I heard the names “Mike Dog-gan” and “Benji Napoleon” but that was just my dog-ist bias. It turns out there’s a whole pack of “caninedates” campaigning to be top dog of some sort.

But since I haven’t gotten an up-close sniff of any of these city council or mayoral contenders, I had my people send them all a survey. We asked for their thoughts about the city’s animal control department and a potential dog park. We wondered how they characterized the REAL stray dog problem out there. We wanted to know about their canine companions: Are they spayed/neutered? Where did they get them? Because if you aren’t a responsible pet owner, well, how can you be trusted with our beloved Detroit?

And just to REALLY get some insight into these would-be pack leaders, we asked what breed of dog they would be if they were lucky enough to be canines.

Here’s who responded and exactly what they told us. The rest is up to you on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Francine Adams, District Three City Council Candidate
What are your plans for the City of Detroit Animal Control Department?
I don’t have any plans for the Animal Control Department.  There is a 4 million dollar RFP on the table for a new facility and they have funding for 14 staff members.  There should be a review of the department to get the functionality to an optimal level.

How do you characterize the stray dog situation in Detroit? If you consider it a problem, what can be done about it?
I don’t believe the stray dog situation is as sensationalized as mass media will have you believe.  6-7 days out of the week I’m travelling around the city for work and pleasure, day and night.  I see an occasional stray dog.  I rarely see a pack of stray dogs.  Most of the problematic dogs have a home with irresponsible owners who allow them to roam freely and return home at will.  The solution is to ticket the owners of identified problem animals and/or pick up the offending animal, especially repeat offenders.

Explain your thoughts about and plans for (or reluctance to) a city-run dog park in Detroit.
I don’t have plans for or a reluctance to a dog park.  Although, it’s a concept some residents would enjoy and appreciate it would not be of use to the majority of residents.  Therefore, at this time it is not a project the city should undertake until it is in a position to adequately meet the needs of the tax paying citizens including current animal control issues.

Do you own a dog/dogs? If so, where did you get him/her/them? Is she/he (Are they) spayed or neutered?
At this time I am not a dog owner.  I don’t have the time to give him the attention he deserves.  Most of my dogs have been from the Humane Society or from the litter of a friend/associate.  All of the dogs I have been responsible for were neutered and had regular visit to the vet.

If you were a dog, what breed or mix of breeds would you be? Why? 
I’m from a big dog family.  We’ve owned German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, a Bouvier, a Chihuahua,  Poodle, a Mastiff, and a number of mix breeds.  My favorite breed is the Mastiff.  They are intelligent, loyal, protective of their people and property, a good judge of character and laid back much like myself.

Scott Benson, District Three City Council Candidate
What are your plans for the City of Detroit Animal Control Department?
To help fund its operations at the most responsible level.

How do you characterize the stray dog situation in Detroit? If you consider it a problem, what can be done about it?
I think this problem is an urban legend.  I’ve walked throughout the 3rd district and stray dogs are not the problem as described in the media.  There are stray dogs and I want to ensure that the ACD is properly staffed to respond to this issue.

Explain your thoughts about and plans for (or reluctance to) a city-run dog park in Detroit.
I would love to have dog parks in Detroit.  When I had a dog  I would go to a neighboring suburb of Detroit to socialize my dog at a dog park.

Do you own a dog/dogs? If so, where did you get him/her/them? Is she/he (Are they) spayed or neutered?
I do not own a  dog, but I have in the past.  She was neutered.

If you were a dog, what breed or mix of breeds would you be? Why?
I would a be a Shar-Pei as they are easy to house break, clean, good with the family and great watch dogs.

 

Adam Hollier, District Five City Council Candidate
What are your plans for the City of Detroit Animal Control Department?
Animal control is governed by the administration.  It’s a department that is over worked and understaffed.  Over the past year I have been directly involved in resolving two issues at animal control.  The first, was securing a veterinarian on site to allow residents to pick up their pets that were collected by animal control.  I had to personally negotiate with the Veterinarian to get her back to work and get her contract approved.  The second, instance was facilitating the transfer of Animal Control to the Police Department to ensure more streamlined process.

How do you characterize the stray dog situation in Detroit? If you consider it a problem, what can be done about it?
Stray dogs remain a problem in the city.  It is critical to engage more volunteers to deal with this issue.  My brother was very involved with the Detroit Dog Rescue where I was able to see first hand how a group of committed residents can impact this issue.  Picking up stray dogs is only part of the program no kill facilities and better avenues for adoption are critical components of dealing with the stray issue.

Explain your thoughts about and plans for (or reluctance to) a city-run dog park in Detroit.
The city of Detroit is in a fiscal emergency and needs to allocate resources to maintain the parks that are currently not being maintained for children.  As a councilperson I would be more than willing to work with residents to develop a dog part using private dollars.  The humane society of Michigan may be building a new facility in District 5 and it would be great to have other options for enjoying spaces with dogs.

Do you own a dog/dogs? If so, where did you get him/her/them? Is she/he (Are they) spayed or neutered?
I do not currently have a dog but was raised with a rescued bouvier.  His name was Woof.

If you were a dog, what breed or mix of breeds would you be? Why?
I would be a Bouvier they are fiercely protective dogs that are excellent hunters and great with kids.  It’s hard to imagine a breed better than the one that I grew up with.

 

Mary Sheffield, District Five City Council Candidate
What are your plans for the City of Detroit Animal Control Department?
I have not developed a specific plan for the City of Detroit’s Animal Control Department but I would like to cultivate more cohesive relationships with rescue organizations and the Michigan Humane Society to better provide services which ultimately protect animals and the public. I would also, provided there is adequate funding, like to see the Department work with owners, rescue missions and the Humane Society to provide options to track dogs, preventing theft and returning loss dogs to their owners. Lastly, I believe the department needs to enforce existing ordinances with respect to humane treatment, licensing and preventing biting incidents.

How do you characterize the stray dog situation in Detroit? If you consider it a problem, what can be done about it?
I believe there is a serious stray dog situation in Detroit mainly caused by irresponsible owners and the lack of having dogs spayed or neutered. On the front end, I believe by requiring owner to register their dogs and outfitting the animal with tracking technology would be a win-win situation for all. It will allow animal control to better enforce ordinances and ultimately provide protection for owners, the dogs and the public in general. On the back end, we must partner with rescue efforts, the Humane Society, neighborhoods and dog owners to develop solutions for abandoned and unwanted dogs.

Explain your thoughts about and plans for (or reluctance to) a city-run dog park in Detroit.
Dogs are legitimate members of families across the City of Detroit. As such, we must, as a service to our residents especially in an urban setting, provide options for pet owners to provide exercise and recreation for their dogs. From an economic standpoint, the City would become more attractive for pet owners and families considering relocating to the City or those considering leaving for a more conducive environment for owning a dog.

Do you own a dog/dogs? If so, where did you get him/her/them? Is she/he (Are they) spayed or neutered?
Unfortunately, I am not currently a dog owner but I am a dog lover. I am working, pursuing my master’s degree and public office and would not want to be absentee owner.

If you were a dog, what breed or mix of breeds would you be? Why?
I would have to say a German Shepherd because I can be gentle and loving but very protective especially when it comes to Detroit and Detroiters.

 

Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, District Six City Council Candidate
What are your plans for the City of Detroit Animal Control Department?
Like many city departments, the City of Detroit Animal Control Department finds their work difficult due to lack of funding, resources and coordinated effort, resulting in subpar services to our residents. It, like most of our city departments, is in dire need of restructuring, increased oversight and accountability, and increased funding and resources so that we can address the issue of stray animals throughout the city in a humane, safe and thorough way.

How do you characterize the stray dog situation in Detroit? If you consider it a problem, what can be done about it?
The stray dog situation is absolutely an issue – it’s a safety problem both for our residents and for the animals themselves. Although a significant number of dogs are caught every year, that number needs to be dramatically increased. We also need to ensure that our dog catchers are finding homes or humane living situations for those animals, not putting them to sleep. As previously mentioned, the best method will be to increase the resources, funding and coordination of our Animal Control Department so that they are able to do their jobs well and keep our city safe.

Explain your thoughts about and plans for (or reluctance to) a city-run dog park in Detroit.
I think that more dog parks in Detroit would be great, both for residents and for their pets. Detroit has many important needs that are currently unfulfilled that I would seek to fix as a City Council member, including getting our basic services up and running again, ensuring that our neighborhoods are clean and safe, and promoting economic growth in our communities. Whenever possible, I will do everything in my power to support and provide resources for our city’s parks so that our children, families and family pets have safe and clean places to play!

Do you own a dog/dogs? If so, where did you get him/her/them? Is she/he (Are they) spayed or neutered?
I do not currently own a dog. My family has two cats named Churro and Little Chef de la Mancha, both of whom are neutered.

If you were a dog, what breed or mix of breeds would you be? Why?
I would be a Husky and German Shepherd mix – I had a dog of that breed when I was younger, whom I loved very much! They are also incredibly smart, loyal and resourceful dogs, and I would like to think of myself as having the same traits. That’s why I’m running for City Council – to fight for our city’s residents, whether two-legged or four!

 

Isaac Robinson, District Six City Council Candidate
What are your plans for the City of Detroit Animal Control Department?
We need to help fund it more and make sure we bring area stakeholders together to discuss ways to improve the Department.  Sensitivity training for employees is key.  We must protect citizens and the animals but we should also be sensitive to the rights and needs of owners.     Two weeks ago, I helped a dog owner work through red tape when his dog was quarantined.    After ten days, the owner had problems getting his dog back.   I advised him of his rights and pointed him to the relevant statutes that governed this process.   Within hours his dog was released.

How do you characterize the stray dog situation in Detroit? If you consider it a problem, what can be done about it?
It is problem.  We must engage citizens and stakeholders to discuss ways to address the problem and look for funding.

Explain your thoughts about and plans for (or reluctance to) a city-run dog park in Detroit.
We must fight for a Detroit with walkable neighborhoods that are well-lit and safe. Dog parks enhance communities.  Dog parks are not only a gathering place for dogs but for people.  Our neighborhoods will be safer when neighbors better communicate.   The city should support non-profits willing to establish dog parks and look at a long-term plan to provide direct support for dog parks.       Dog parks can play a role in building stronger neighborhoods.    It’s time we keep working to make Detroit the World-Class city it should be.   We have so much land in Detroit that can be used for positive things.   As a member of the council I will work with residents across District 6 on this issue.

Do you own a dog/dogs? If so, where did you get him/her/them? Is she/he (Are they) spayed or neutered?
I was a cat owner.    She was spayed at Patterson’s dog hospital in Woodbridge where I live.     We also had a stray dog Pinky who we rescued at the age of 14.  The Vet said it would have been too dangerous to have Pinky spayed at her age.

If you were a dog, what breed or mix of breeds would you be? Why?
Brindle Mastiff.   I am big guy (over 6 foot 4 and over 300 pounds) but I am a teddy bear at heart.     My late friend Attorney Ilsa Draznin took me across America showing her wonderful Dog Show winning Mastiffs when I was in high school.

 

Gabe Leland, District Seven City Council Candidate
What are your plans for the City of Detroit Animal Control Department?
It is time for the Animal Control Department to investigate the possibility of partnering with the Humane Society (or other animal protection group) for the  appropriate, humane treatment of abandoned and/or neglected animals.  The department is providing less than adequate services as it presently operates and there needs to be improvements in their response policy.

How do you characterize the stray dog situation in Detroit? If you consider it a problem, what can be done about it?
Unfortunately, there are hundreds (could be thousands) of feral dogs running through our neighborhoods. These animals present a very dangerous problem for residents and for animal control personnel.  Proper funding should be sought from federal/state partners to educate the public on spaying/neutering. Additionally, Inner city breeding should be regulated and licensed to root out the bad guys and keep populations under control.  Stray or unleashed dogs are sometimes killed by the police in situations witnessed by citizens – even children.  Tranquilizer weapons would be useful and a more humane way to secure these animals for transport to a facility where they can be put down or investigated.

Explain your thoughts about and plans for (or reluctance to) a city-run dog park in Detroit.
I would support the creation of dog parks but would require an annual “permit” for owners to purchase.  The funds would be used to maintain the parks and would give us the authority to require dogs be licensed (all shots administered) in order for the permit to be purchased.

Do you own a dog/dogs? If so, where did you get him/her/them? Is she/he (Are they) spayed or neutered?
I do not own a dog at this time.

If you were a dog, what breed or mix of breeds would you be? Why?
I would be a Labrador.  Labs are smart, loyal, people friendly and maintain puppy characteristics well into adulthood.

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