Neighbors living in fear over stray dogs on Detroit's east side

Residents fearful of strays after woman fatally shot during dog attack

By Karen Drew - Reporter/Anchor , Derick Hutchinson

DETROIT - Just 10 days ago, a Detroit woman was shot and killed while she was being mauled by a stray dog on the city's east side.

The Local 4 Defenders went back to the neighborhood and found residents still living in fear.

Mike Williams told police he was trying to shoot the dog and save the woman, but it turned into a tragedy near Goodwin and Westminster streets.

After residents complained about feeling unsafe just walking around the neighborhood, the Local 4 Defenders visited the area a few times on different days. On nearly every single visit, there were stray dogs roaming around.

It didn't take long to find the strays. Within minutes of arriving in the east-side neighborhood, there were two different dogs roaming nearby.

"It's been a real problem because people carry sticks now," resident Douglas Harris said. "I would tell the ladies, 'Carry a stick.' I carry a bone that's about that long. I had a dog attack me in the street behind us, and I beat him off."

A woman carrying a cane told the Defenders she uses it as a defensive stick when the dogs get too close.

"The city's got to do more," she said. "Got to do more."

Walking to a friend's house down the block can be a deadly decision. That's what Pat Cosby, 52, was doing last week when she was mauled by a stray dog.

"(She said), 'Help me Mike. Help me Mike,'" Williams said.

Williams said he grabbed his gun and tried to save her.

"He fired an unknown number of shots to try to stop the attack," Detroit police Capt. Darin Szilagy said. "Unfortunately, during that action, the woman was struck."

Days after the killing, the dogs still roam around the neighborhood, intimidating residents who live there.

"It can happen any day," said Pastor Lonnie Batties, of New Shiloh Baptist Church. "I can happen to anybody. We've just got to be more vigilant, more concerned. Keep an eye out. Look, watch, be concerned about your neighbor."

Batties is working on improving and growing his church in the neighborhood. He's also trying to keep it safe from the dogs by making sure the tall grasses and overgrown areas are taken care of. He said that's where the dogs like to hide.

"I'm so concerned about the kids because it's getting darker and they have to walk to school," Batties said.

He wants residents to speak up about the problem.

"We see the stray dog, we say nothing," Batties said. "But that's like everything else. We see crime, we don't say anything until it comes home."

Residents in the area want the city to take action.

"Put some more money into enforcement of dogs and people that have them and get them licensed and so forth," Harris said.

Detroit Animal Care and Control released the following statement about the situation:

"The Detroit Police Department (DPD) is the lead agency on this investigation. Detroit Animal Care and Control (DACC) does not currently have information on what led to the incident or a specific description of the animal that was involved in the reported attack on Goodwin Street. Field units from DACC have been patrolling the area since the incident was reported and as of now there has been no sighting of any dog matching a general description of the one involved.

"Detroit Animal Care and Control (DACC) has increased its number of animal intakes by more than 850 in 2017, compared to this time last year, and the number of dog bites has decreased by 32.7 percent.

"The safety of our residents is our primary concern and DACC is doing the following to reduce the number of stray dogs in the community:

  • Canvasing neighborhoods throughout the city three nights a week.
  • Taking in stray dogs seven days a week.
  • Enforcing that residents fix their fences where dogs are present.
  • Writing tickets to residents who do not comply with Detroit City Ordinance.
  • Partnering with non-profit agencies for free/low-cost spay and neuter services.
  • Hiring more employees to respond to calls.
  • In 2018, DACC will increase its fleet of vehicles to dispatch into the community.

"All residents should call 911 if they feel there is an immediate threat to their safety."

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