DETROIT (WWJ) - The city of Detroit could be facing legal action from animal activists, who’ve spent the past week lobbying to save the life of a stray pit bull mix that was found starving to death. In the end — “Ace” was euthanized — despite a stay from the courts.
City officials and Detroit Animal Control did not receive the injunction filed this week by a Wayne County Circuit Court judge, according to a written statement from Bruce King, general manager of Environmental Health Services for Detroit’s health department.
But, Dan Carlisle (also known as “Hush”), who runs the Detroit Dog Rescue, said he personally served the injunction. Hush said he plans to sue the City of Detroit for contempt of court.
The dog, known as Ace, was found Nov. 4 in the lobby of an ACE Hardware store in Detroit. He was euthanized after a four-day holding period expired.
Over 16,000 people joined a Save Ace Facebook Group that advocated for his release. Mike Pugsley, who owns the ACE store, is among them.
”Dear Ace, you came into my lobby, crouched behind my door and stared blankly at the wall, shaking. I could see your pain – I fed you, warmed you and you rewarded me by finally looking into my eyes, and for a moment, we shared your pain. I reached for the phone, thinking that I could find you a better life… Instead I sent you to your death. Please forgive me. You did not die in vain, nor will you be forgotten. This I promise you. Your last but far from only friend,” Pugsley wrote.
Pugsley talked to WWJ City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas about his meeting with leaders of the Detroit Dog Rescue.
“I met Hush the other day, a wonderful man. He’s got a fire in his eyes and passion and his voice. He’s a man that will see that some action comes out of this,” Pugsley said.
Detroit Animal Control does not adopt out or release pit bulls or pit bull mixes unless it’s back to the dogs’ original owners. The owner must establish proof of ownership, such as a dog license or veterinary records.
After news of Ace’s plight surfaced, Detroit Animal Control said they were inundated with calls from around the country from people who wanted to keep Ace alive.
“This situation regarding the dog retrieved from the Ace Hardware store has now started to impact the safety of the residents of the city of Detroit. Urgent calls for help from elderly citizens, school principals, postal supervisors and the police are going unanswered because our Detroit Animal Control dispatch line is overwhelmed with calls from outside of the city, state and even the country,” the statement said.
Detroit City Councilman Ken Cockrel said his office was also flooded with calls and emails from pet lovers and advocates across the globe.
“I’d say over the course of the past three days, I’ve probably gotten 2,000 plus emails and counting on this issue. And look, I understand, I mean because I’m a pet lover… but if we could turn that level of energy and attention to the care and feeding of human beings, we’d really change the world for the better,” said Cockrel.
A number of people claimed ownership of the dog but “failed to provide adequate proof, including identifying the dog in the kennel, or having the dog recognize or respond to the individuals’ calls,” according to the statement.
But, Nitta Moses from Detroit told WWJ she provided paperwork documenting ownership and said the dog was stolen from her home over the Summer.
David Rudolph, with the Detroit Animal Rescue Shelter, helped lead the effort to keep Ace alive.
“We were absolutely just shocked and caught off guard because we thought that efforts to at least be able to save Ace was well on its way,” said Rudolph.
“We are not insensitive to the overwhelming appeal from citizens for an alternative approach. We are, indeed, heartened by these appeals. However, if we grant this one exception, we are simply not set up for what will undoubtedly lead to overwhelming appeals in similar cases,” the statement said.
Pugsley said Ace may be gone, but this is not the end of it.
“I am extremely disappointed … the mayor, I would have thought he would have stepped in. But … I don’t think he will have died in vain. A number of organizations trying to make this right and make something better come out of it,” he said.