Protesters rally at Spirit of Detroit against DAC

Last month, a whistleblower stepped up and exposed what they say was happening at the Detroit Animal Control facility. Now protesters are demanding the head of the DAC step down and fix the problems at the shelter.

The protest lasted for a few hours Monday morning. The warm weather spurred impassioned protesters to step up and make their voices heard.

"I, as a 39 year resident of the city of Detroit, am appalled that I have been paying for, with my tax dollars, these animals to be killed," one protester said. "That's deplorable, that's inhumane, that is disgusting. That is not what I stand for as a human."

Another protester claimed the DAC was running a racket by knocking down doors and demanding licenses be handed over. The same protester also said that employees are stealing dogs from yards and homes.

The problems with the DAC were exposed in October when Brittany Roberts, a fired employee, shared photographic evidence of what she said happened inside the shelter.

The exposure got so bad, the Detroit Health Department took over the DAC. On Monday the city's health department director, Abdul El-Sayed. met with protesters at the Spirit of Detroit. He admits that things need to get better.

"We're looking at the whole thing. That includes the process fees, that includes the personnel, that includes the places where we do animal care and control. We really want to move this forward," El-Sayed said it was a systematic failure and one person should not be blamed. "I hate to put it on one person, I think that's kind of unfair. the job is a hard one"

That person he's referencing is Harry Ward, the DAC director. Protesters were calling for him to be removed from his position as part of the reform of the department.

There are over 100,000 stray dogs in Detroit and DAC is responsible for getting them off the streets. El-Sayed said the department is trying to balance the safety of the dogs and the people of Detroit.

"We need to make sure that we're doing our best by 100,000 dogs in the city. Perhaps more importantly, we need to make sure that the public health risk that's posed by that many stray animals in the city is mitigated. It's a hard balance to find but we're doing our best to find it," he said.

Many of the protesters said they've seen the problems at the DAC first hand. El-Sayed said the department is not saying there's not a problem and that something doesn't need to be done. He said, simply, they're working on it.

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