I’m Victoria Stilwell, join me as I travel
the U.S. and discover stories of dogs and humans impacting each others lives for the
better. This is American Dog. Keeping an eye out for strays is Dan Carlisle, a local rap
artist who goes by the name of Hush. Detroit Dog Rescue. Detroit Dog Rescue. Detroit Dog
Rescue. Detroit Dog Rescue, a charity that helps finds stray dogs homes and helps the
poor care for their pets. And we know, you know, the amount of homeless dogs that are
out there, we’re gonna do everything we can. When a dog comes up to me and he puts his
head down and he just rolls over and just submits to you, it’s like, “Please…” Like,
you know… “Help.” “Help.” I’m in Detroit, one of the cities that’s been hit hardest
by the economic downturn. Some of the forgotten victims of this tragedy are the animals. It’s
been estimated that there are over 50,000 stray dogs in the city. However, there’s one
organization that’s helping to save their lives: Detroit Dog Rescue. I’m just gonna
go around the room and ask everybody what they’re doing today, or I’m gonna tell you
what you’re doing today. Yesterday, website and Facebook was all updated with all the
dogs, a couple new intakes that we have off the radar. Every single one? Every single
one that’s adoptable and ready. So, Patrick, you will be rolling with us. Cool. Rodney,
you’re rolling with us. How many homes do they reckon have been vacated? 70,000. In
the city? Uh huh. 70,000 homes in the city! And 115 or so schools abandoned. That’s the
water department. Now, what’s funny is, I’m gonna stop at this house — nine times out
of ten, I will guarantee this house is — now, they were just there. We just passed them.
I will bet dollars to donuts this house right here, there’s still water running in the basement.
Okay. I will guarantee it. Unless they’ve shut that water off, which I highly doubt,
okay. Just watch yourself. Oh my god. This is a year and a half. Whoa, whoa. Okay, come
here. Okay, so the dogs on the next block that we’re gonna go to, you know, this is
a house they come to. They just jump into this and get some free water. So… Now, if
you were over there, you could literally put a cup into that water and drink it — it’s
that fresh. But, and the Water Board hasn’t switched it off? No, and not only that, but
this is tax payer dollars. So the dogs come down here and they get fresh water. And they
drink from this. Yep, and this homes all across Detroit, you know? So when a house is abandoned,
then people from the neighborhood just come and strip everything out of it. Yeah, for
the copper. For the… And then they go sell it, the copper, the metal, whatever they can
scrap and make some money, they do. They just break… Oh my, they ripped that bathroom
— there is nothing left in here. Nuh uh. There is nothing. You walk into a house like
this and you’re like, okay, this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. There’s no reason
for the person that lives in that house right there to look across the street and see this.
And this is 1 of 70,000 houses. Oh yeah, or more, you know? Not to mention hospitals,
full hospitals abandoned. High schools, you know, that held 900 kids. This was once a
beautiful house. This was an absolutely beautiful house. I mean, it’s a lovely house. I can’t
imagine if this is one house that has a water main busted, that the water’s just flowing
like this, how many more are out there that are exactly the same. And that’s taxpayer’s
money. And that’s taxpayer dollars at work. Going down the drain. What’s the deal with
these dogs? Well, this is my friend Keesha’s dogs. Her and her husband, they take care
of them. We’ve been coming here for a least a year now. And, you know, Keesha and her
husband, they’re what we like to call responsible dog owners. You know, they have, you know,
housing for their dogs, their dogs don’t stay outside, their dogs are inside dogs. You know,
they curl up with the kids. You know, last year sometime, Keesha and her husband, they
had a little bit of, you know, financial hard times, and we came through for them. You know,
we gave them, you know, some food, treats, everything that they needed, you know, just
to get by for the little bit of time. And since then, you know, they take the ball and
they run with it, you know? The problem is, you know, we’ve got all these community dogs,
you know, such as Gizmo and, you know, the Lab, you know, Shepherds, you know — they
just run free in the neighborhood. They have to have a fenced in yard like this or else
Gizmo and his cronies are gonna come in there, you know, and they’re gonna have litters,
and they’re gonna be unwanted litters. How many dogs do you think are in this area? Probably
about 20 since we’ve been coming back and forth here the past year and a half and documenting,
you know, what we’ve saw. And we gave them all names and that sort of thing. Okay. Probably
20 within the past year and a half. And you see it all the time. And what about your kids,
though, playing in the neighborhood? My kids don’t play in the neighborhood because of
the stray dogs. They do try and attack my children, and it’s hard for them to even ride
their bikes to a certain extent, so we try to stay right here and a little further, or
I put my dogs on this side of the fence so they won’t come any farther. Because once
they bark, they know not to come past my house. You know what? Weirdly enough, I have to say,
this is actually quite a nice environment for dogs. Yeah, it’s humble, it’s quiet. Right.
If you think about it, in a shelter, these dogs that are just cooped up in a shelter
with a tiny little kennel run — what’s better? They’ll be crazy. A life out like here where
you are, you’re gonna suffer in a way with medical issues or a life in a shelter. In
a way, as you were saying, Detroit is almost getting reclaimed by nature again. Right.
Strangely enough. Right. What’s the significance of this house? This house last year was the
first house that we actually came to in this neighborhood. When we got here, we found six
puppies upstairs. Three of them were tucked underneath a dresser way off in a corner.
And the only reason we knew that was because we heard the other three yelping. When we
got to them, three of them were dead. The other three, we took them out of here. And
then the next day, we came here and we jumped on the porch right were Rodney is and we looked
through a window because there is no glass, and there was three dogs on the inside laying
on a couch, which was kind of — it’s like they’ve taken over the abandonment as like
their own. These are just basically just large dog houses now. While it turned out to be
Gizmo, his son Daylight, and then another one which we you used to call The Century
because she’d always be — she was the one that was always tucked around a corner watching
out on everybody, you know. She’d make the noise, she’d bark and alert the rest of the
crew, and then they all leave out the back door. When you talk about reclaiming Detroit,
you know, the animals, you know, are definitely reclaiming this city by taking these houses
over. Like, if humans don’t want them, then… The animals are gonna have them. They’re ours
for the keeping. Okay, so here’s a, here’s a call that I just got: Hi, this is the lady
off of Maryland and [xx] Drive where the dogs are. I was wondering, can you come and get
the dog because she’s pregnant again, and she looks like she’s gonna have puppies, and,
you know, she’s really terrorizing the mail people and the little kids that’s going to
school. Now, this dog had already had a litter. We got the litter from the mother, but we
could never catch the mother, okay. She was gone and whatever. But this lady and her,
I think it’s her mother or a member of her family, they keep feeding this dog, okay.
So they feed the dog, and the dog sleeps under the porch. The dog is great with them but
nobody else. And, obviously, the dog was terrorizing the neighborhood because she was pregnant.
But now the dog is now… But now the dog is pregnant again because she’s out roaming
the streets, so she’s gonna have another litter. So that’s two, you know, and within six months.
And what happens is that the neighbors will find out where those puppies are, they’ll
take the puppies, and then they’ll sell them. Oh, there he is. Where? There’s one right
there. See him by the boat? Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s the nasty one. Now, there’s
no point in rescuing that dog? No. That dog is not gonna get re-homed. This is one of
the community dogs. This whole block, you know, feeds him and takes care of him, and
you know… Here Giz. Hi, Gizzy. Hi, Giz. Hi baby. This is Gizmo. Hey, Gizmo. Has Gizmo
been neutered and released, or no? No. Not yet. Giz is old. Giz was left by his owner.
Would you take a dog like that in or not? This is one of these dogs… I would take
him in, but put him in a sanctuary. Yeah. I can’t — Gizmo’s an outdoor dog. He refuses
to come inside. He refuses to, you know, hang out. For me, I spend most of my time going
to people’s homes, dealing with their problem dog behaviors. Very rarely am I involved in
just coming out and just hanging out with stray dogs on the street. But here they are.
Here it is in the center of Detroit. Oh, that’s the one… She’s the one that you don’t wanna
mess with. Oh yeah, she’s pregnant, that’s it. For sure. She is pregnant, look at that.
So there’s gonna be another nine puppies. Another litter. Another litter that… Like,
you can’t take this dog in, and, you know, she won’t be rehabilitated to be, you know,
on a domestic level. See where she went? Yeah. Underneath that porch, that’s where she’s
gonna have these puppies. Now, the guy who lives here, he doesn’t like us coming around.
But I told him, “I’m sorry, homey, but you ain’t gotta choice,” you know, “you don’t
own the city.” Look where where’s she’s at right now: underneath his porch where she’s
probably gonna give birth to them puppies any day, you know. And then what do you think’s
gonna happen to those puppies? They’ll get hustled out. You know, they’ll get sold out,
you know, 50 bucks a piece, $20, whatever. Is she part of the group here? She’s a part
of the group now. She became a part of the group about, I’d say, seven months ago. These
dogs: Gizmo, personally, is been around here for four years, four to seven years. Seven
months ago she showed up with her baby, the puppy, the black one that’s over there. They
packed up with Gizmo because the community was feeding them food. There is already a
generation of dogs in Detroit that are feral, who don’t wanna be around humans. There’s
more value in leaving these dogs on the streets versus trying to rescue and adopt these animals.
Sanctuaries won’t take them, they don’t want to be around humans, so as long as they have
food, shelter and medical attention, as well as being spade and neutered and re-released,
then all things considered, life on the streets is better than a crate, a small kennel run
or being put down. You know what? What I’ve seen today is that most people around here
own pets or pet mixes of some type. It’s a fashion. You know, it’s like a new pair of
shoes. These kids will get these dogs from people, you know, $50, $60 and whatnot, and
then three months later, they just kick that dog out because they finally realized like,
“Oh, s***! Like, I have to — “…this is like having a child.” You know, “I’m not ready
for a kid.” You know? It is a dog, there’s a collar still on it. The teeth are really
good — it could be a young dog. His teeth — he’s probably only about two-years-old.
Yeah. He’s on a chain. This dog died. Yeah. Look, this is where the chain is. Yep. This
dog died here. He’s still on his chain. The chain is going to his collar around his neck,
and this is the chain that chained him. Yep. He died on the end of his frickin chain. It’s
not cool, you know. No dog should have to be dumped here and left like this, you know?
He had to have came through here at some point, and he just couldn’t drag this anymore. That
is heavy. This is… This is something that you use on a boat, you know? You could, I
mean, you could use it to pull a car, you know? It’s not fair. Not fair. This isn’t
right. This is no — this is what I’m dealing with, you know? I’m trying to end this. Well,
on a daily basis, Detroit Dog Rescue gets phone calls from citizens saying, you know,
we have a dog or there’s dog that’s been roaming the streets, we picked it up. We can’t take
care of it, but we also don’t want it to be euthanized — can you come get it? Apparently,
the dog was dropped off from a friend who said that that they couldn’t take care of
it because they had another dog that they were afraid the two dogs wouldn’t get together.
Hello, how are you? Alright. I’m with Detroit Dog Rescue. Okay, I’ll be right with you.
Thank you very much. Hi. Hi. Hey baby. That ain’t no puppy. Hi, hi sweetheart. What happened
to him? I don’t know, my friend dropped him off at my house. He’s got burn marks on him
and his ears… Hi, hi. Hi puppy. That ain’t burn marks, that’s mange. That is mange. That’s
mange. Yeah. It’s a skin infection. Right. Yeah, he’s got fly bites on his ears. Yeah,
it’s alright. Okay, you’re a big baby. You guys got a leash, a collar or anything like
that? No. No? No tags, no nothing, huh? No. Duke’s a submission peer, so. Watch him because
he’s a peer. It could be — I don’t think it’s ringworm. No, I think it’s Dermedex.
Yeah, Dermedex mange. Alright, thanks for calling. You know, dog like that, beautiful
dog, beautiful color. Obviously, he’s very submissive, you know, and he likes people.
So, when we get a dog like and you see how they acted with us. Yeah. Tail waging, ears
back. Oh, yeah. It’s very submissive, pees right there on the spot. You know, loves,
to be, you know, rubbed and touched. Our temperament test is halfway done. Yeah, exactly. Thanks.
Good boy. This is what a true pit bull is like. This is it, you’re looking at it. This
is the demonized breed. Look at this. Perfect. Oh, that is. Look at you with a new collar.
Right, there he is. Look at that baby. Look at him, fresh man. Yay. Throughout the year,
we, you know, have some amazing fundraisers, some small, some big. This year, this is our
biggest fundraiser, you know, of the year. And it’s not necessarily a fundraiser of sorts.
The even is called 100 Roofs for Woofs. We are building 100 dog houses in 8 hours today.
We set out, I called Home Depot, we set out just to see if it was a possibility if they’d
want to work with us. We got embraced 100 percent by them. They were so excited. The
same people that are getting the dog houses, which will be qualified residents, they’re
also gonna be getting, you know, hay, probably a nice little gift bag, a 40 pound bag of
food, you know, some treats and toys for their dog. A big problem that we face a lot. I don’t
know if you heard Dantes talk, but we do find dogs that have been frozen to death or that
have literally been baked in the sun to death. And, unfortunately, dog houses and shelter
in general is just extremely expensive. This was something that was fairly cheap to do,
actually. Why? Because look at these amazing volunteers that, you know, we don’t have to
hire anybody to actually, you know, do this kind of work. You know, this is something
that people love to come out, they love to help, they love to, you know, work with us.
A lot of people out there, they wanna help, but they have no way of knowing how to do
that. Well, then DDR puts these programs together, and we’re that bridge that connects us with
the community, you know, with them with the community through us. The volunteers have
been like such go-getters. I thought we were gonna have a bunch of people that, you know,
I mean… No, really, they are such go-getters and that got literally almost all hundred
assembled already. So all we’re gonna do is put roofs on, put shingles, cut the doors
out, and decorate. And, as you can see, everybody’s been making them pretty colorful. We got a
kid that’s tagging graffiti on a bunch of them, making them look awesome, so. So, why
are you painting? Why are you painting out here today? It’s because I feel bad for all
the dogs that were in Detroit and nobody was helping them until DDR came along. So both
of you created this today? I did the like the pink and the paw print and the letters.
I love that. I think this is fabulous. Tell me why you’re doing this? It’s just for the
dogs. You know, they need homes. The next step for these dog houses: We’re loading them
all up tonight. Tomorrow, bright and early, we’re delivering 50 of them. We’ve got 25
on the east side, 25 on the west side of Detroit to deliver. They’re all going to homes for
the dogs that live outside 24/7. Well, cool, Mr. Jones. Alright. You know what’s up. Yes,
I appreciate it too. You know, no doubt. I haven’t had little love like this in quite
awhile. Nothing wrong with a little love, right? Yeah, because I love them jokers right
there. I wouldn’t change nothing for them. I treat them just like kids. Yeah, man. And
whatever it takes, man. You know, I went through a lot, man, with my neighbors when I first
came here. But all the kids took a liking. I had to make them go home sometimes, you
know, because when the kids playing with them, you can make a dog bite you. Oh yeah, they
play hard. Yeah. You pull his tail, smack them a couple times. Yeah, you got to be a
supervisor when the kids are playing with them. Right. And when you get tired of them,
you have to run them home. Yeah. It’s just like one of your kids. That’s right. Once
you get used to them. Never had her leashed because I tried that on [xx]. Picture with
Mr. Jones. Yeah, man. This is one day I never will forget. What I’m most proud of working
with DDR: The fact that whatever I do from point A to point B for the rest of my life,
whatever happens after this point, I feel that I’m making a difference not only for
dogs, which I have a love for, but I’m making a difference for people. And
I’m making a difference for my son to show
him that it’s not the money in your pocket, it’s not things you may think are valuable
to you that makes you who you are. It’s what you do and it’s what you give. Because you’re
born into this world naked and crying and screaming in a little ball, and you’re gonna
die going out in sort of the same fashion, and the only way your legacy is gonna live
in this world is if you do and give. And doing and giving for not only animals but for people,
is what I get out of Detroit Dog Rescue. Detroit is damaged, but it’s a city that’s been founded
on hard work, passion and dedication. The citizens of Detroit continue to fight for
change, and Detroit Dog Rescue is a perfect example. I’m Victoria Stilwell for American