Police: Reports of Dead Fighting Dogs ‘Highly Embellished’

Detroit police said they found a few dead dogs at River Rouge Park, but said reports from an animal welfare group were based on a misunderstanding.

This dog was recently rescued by the Detroit Animal Welfare Group, whose reports of 28 dead dogs at River Rouge Park are being disputed. (Screenshot: DAWG YouTube video)
This dog was recently rescued by the Detroit Animal Welfare Group, whose reports of 28 dead dogs at River Rouge Park are being disputed. (Screenshot: DAWG YouTube video)

Detroit police said Monday they are investigating reports of more than two dozen dead dogs found at River Rouge Park, but that claims in the media that the 1,200-acre park is a dumping ground for dogs killed in illegal fighting were “highly embellished” and the result of a misunderstanding.

Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody told MLive Detroit that police and other volunteers searched the park Monday and found fewer than five dogs that didn’t appear to have died in a fighting ring, but instead “just didn’t survive the winter.”

Nicole Litzelman, a board member of the Detroit Animal Welfare Group (DAWG), told  told CBS News Detroit that the bodies of at least 28 dogs, mostly pit bulls and Mastiff mixes, were found in the park.

Woody said a misunderstanding occurred when a city employee told a DAWG member that the Detroit public works department, which is charged with picking up dead animals, had 28 pending calls to pick up dead dogs, including some at River Rouge Park.

He alleged that DAWG’s Litzelman had “twisted” that statement to infer all the carcasses were found at the park as snow began to melt.

“Because of the heavy snowfall in the month of January, a lot of these deceased bodies were discarded there because it was easier to cover them up," Litzelman told CBS News Detroit. "Also, it was an unusually cold month where a lot of dogs froze outside or were left to starve to death ... This is just a small tip of the iceberg. Right now, since the snow is melting, I’m sure we’re going to find quite a few more bodies in the park.”

Last summer, Bloomberg said as many as 50,000 dogs are roaming the streets of Detroit, a non-human casualty of poverty and bankruptcy. But a new Michigan State University placed that number at closer to 7,500.

Woody told the Detroit News the police department will continue to investigate reports of dog fighting.

“We at DPD investigate all crimes, including dog fighting,” he said. “We have a very soft heart and a lot of us are avid dog lovers, so we will go after these criminals with nothing short of 100 percent.”

Carol Herriges March 25, 2014 at 09:04 AM
I personally saw some re-animated corpses at that same park.
Chicago Video March 25, 2014 at 07:46 PM
1,000,000 dead dogs (pit bulls) found in Detroit park --Reports Beverly Patch..If BP was in paper format at least it would be useful for the bottom of the dog cage.
Shera Osier March 26, 2014 at 05:56 AM
As always, Detroit Police covering their butts. Or at least trying to. There were MANY dead dogs found in that park last Friday. Not a few, rather many. The problem with DPD is, as always, they are , " alittle too late". So, after the case broke and went viral, DPD decides to go, " check out the park to see what they could find". What did the find? More dead dogs. Had they been there on Friday, they would of found 28 dead dogs, and may have found the other 4 or 5 they found on Monday. Im not sure the day will ever come , that Detroit will ever be that City, that we all hope for, as it was many decades ago. When the police are not willing to attack the root of the problem, and instead scramble for cover up, the City will continue to fall to crumble. Detroit Animal Welfare Group, aka DAWG has photos of dead dogs and the live ones that were saved. There were VIDEOS taken during the rescue and search mission. Most know that Detroit is the dog fighting capital, if anyone has doubts, go see for yourself. Investigate the issue yourself. This issue is a sport for people. They make money on fighting dogs. These dogs suffer horribly. The dogs that lose the fight are then shot, hung, or tossed and left to continue the pain of their death. Cowards cant get a job, but instead make money, at the expense of the voiceless who cant speak up. Disgusting. Until more folks come together, and stand up for the voicless, it will continue. Shame on you DPD. As always, alittle too late.
AMANDA LABONTY March 26, 2014 at 08:31 AM
Wether there are 50,000 strays or 5,000 strays, 28 dead dogs found in Rouge Park or 28 dead dogs in the city of Detroit in one day gives evidence of a significant problem that needs to be addressed! DAWG has received multiple calls of more dead dogs since Saturdays outreach in addition to more strays in Rouge park. DAWG rescue holds outreach missions in Detroit on the first and third Saturdays of every month where volunteers meet to help the strays of Detroit. In just 2 hours time DAWG takes in anywhere from 5-15 dogs every outreach. Many of the dogs are emaciated, sick, have mange, parvo, heartworm, wounds, and some with teeth ground down signifying a previous bait dog. Owners with dogs on chains or no food, water, shelter are educated on proper care of pets on our outreaches and straw and food provided. Michigan Humane Society provides DAWG with a limited number of spay/neuter vouchers to offer assistance of sterilization to those in need in the city also. DAWG has requested a meeting with the Mayor Duggan to work together to help solve the issue. The Detroit Police have not contacted any member of DAWG to verify any information as to the situation or events at Rouge park.
AMANDA LABONTY March 26, 2014 at 01:41 PM
One would be curious to know how a statement would be made that dog fighting in Detroit is "highly embellished". Spend a day in the life of an active dog rescue that cares for the Detroit strays and see the injured dogs daily who suffer at the hands of humans and you would see the sad truth


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