No 'ace in the hole' for lost Detroit pit

Life on the streets for dogs in Detroit is a lose-lose proposition. The urban blight and decay that have ravaged whole areas of the Motor City as a result of long-term economic slide have landed hardest on abandoned animals left to fend for themselves in abandoned communities.

When Ace, a pit bull terrier mix, ambled into an Ace Hardware store, he was just one of untold thousands of sad, emaciated dogs wandering the streets. Detroit Dog Rescue was notified, and they dispatched a team to pick Ace up, but the store had already called Detroit Animal Control, who arrived first and took Ace to the pound.

Despite two temporary restraining orders and the establishment of a legal trust to gain standing to act on his behalf in court, Detroit Animal Control killed Ace in keeping with their “no pit bull adoptions” policy.

What should have been a story of life and salvation amid the ruins turned out to be another mindless killing of a frightened, helpless animal based on his appearance.

Details of the legal maneuvers, public appeals, and media pressure to save Ace are complicated, but bottom line, Ace was killed in violation of a court order and the mandatory holding period that should have kept him alive long enough to sort things out, including a claim by a resident that Ace was, in fact, her dog.

Policies, like those of Detroit's Animal Control, that ban certain breeds of dogs outright or prevent them from being adopted from shelters serve no valid public safety interest and only justify the wholesale extermination of homeless pets.

Ace wasn’t assessed for his suitability for adoption and found wanting. It wasn’t that no one stepped forward for him — many did, including qualified rescue organizations. No, the only thing wrong with Ace was his appearance.

Detroit has many problems, and some would argue that a city as back on its heels as Detroit has more important things to worry about than the life of one dog. The city has been battered and bruised and is attempting to rebuild its infrastructure and its image. However, a lazy, lethal policy that is a death sentence for tens of thousands of innocent animals has no place in a reinvigorated Detroit, or in any city.

For the details of Ace’s story, click here.

Dog No-Kill 2025