Survey aims to estimate stray dogs in Detroit


DETROIT  — A survey next month aims to estimate the number of stray dogs in Detroit and help find ways to alleviate the longstanding problem in the city, organizers said.

Volunteers plan to spread out across the city Sept. 21-22 for the Canine Survey and Treasure Hunt, the Detroit Free Press reported. World Animal Awareness Society Executive Director Tom McPhee, who is organizing the effort, is seeking more volunteers.

“We’re actually going to have about 100 people out in the field with us,” he said. “We’re using some really great digital tools to make this happen and to collect this data.”

Stray dogs are a common sight in Detroit. Thousands likely are on the streets, but current estimates of the total vary widely. For next month’s count, the city will be divided into regions and volunteers will count dogs at predetermined points. Collars will be placed on some dogs.

The count is part of the American Strays project. Next year the effort will expand to other U.S. cities, McPhee said.

“This is a legacy program for us,” McPhee said. “Detroit is our template.”

Lindsay Hunt, 25, a master’s student in Michigan State University’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, has been working on the project to determine the number of strays. Methods for collecting data will allow researchers to look for patterns such as what attract stray dogs, she said.

“All animals need food, shelter and water,” she said, “so is that what’s attracting them or is being elusive, not being seen?”