By Zahra Huber

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – It’s a huge task — but the group “World Animal Awareness Society” says volunteers are out counting the thousands of stray dogs in Detroit.

Regardless of the number –David Rudolph with the group Detroit Dog Rescue — says things need to change.

“There is just no way you are going to cover the city of Detroit in a two-day period, counting dogs, unless you go through every some odd ten thousand structures that are apparently vacant or burned out in the city of Detroit,” said Rudolph.

Rudolph’s group isn’t involved in this most recent count … and says it may be a nearly impossible task because of the number of dogs in abandoned buildings.

“What matters most is that we all decide that we need to resolve this problem by finding and helping the dogs that are out there. And we to … as residents do better as pet owners,” said Rudolph.

“I feel … it’s impossible to do considering that the dogs are not entirely sitting around waiting to be counted, and then often found themselves in locations that are secluded and abandoned home and structures and things of that nature,” he said.

Over the weekend, volunteers scoured the city in an attempt to count the number of strays as part of an Internet documentary series. It also is seen as a first step in finding a way to humanely deal with what has become a disease and safety risk for residents as the strays breed, increasing their population even as the city’s population falls.

Detroit became the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy protection in July and is pinching pennies. State-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr says the city needs to find dollars to hire more “dog catchers.”

“It’s clearly a public safety issue,” he told The Associated Press. “We need to fund them at a higher level.”

Jessie Clarke of Detroit was attacked and injured by pit bulls who were running loose.

On Clarke’s left arm is scar tissue from dozens of stitches used to close a gash ripped by two pit bulls that attacked the 65-year-old outside her east side home in April. Similar marks are on one of her legs.

Other city residents are aware that Detroit is home to packs of dogs – some vicious and wary of people – that find haven in vacant houses and buildings.

“If you are not getting rid of them, what are you going to do?” she said. “You can’t round them all up. You can tear down the vacant buildings, but where are the strays going to go? Up and down the street?”

Some estimates say the city has as many as 50,000 dogs.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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