In December last year, the Green Heritage News published the then untold story of the killing of Ace, an abused pit bull, at the Detroit Animal Control (DAC) in Michigan. Ace was killed in November 2011 in violation of a court order of stay of execution for the dog. But, as published in our story, an eye-witness saw what no one else had – Ace disappeared before the legal date of his euthanasia and there was a strong belief that he has been killed illegally before the due date. While there is possibility of a lawsuit against DAC, the eye witness named Mike has been interviewed by Shayla Weston for the Green Heritage News (GHN).
Following are the answers provided by Mike to interview questions sent in written. The link to the complete video interview online on YouTube is included in the interview below.
GHN: Mike, thank you for lending our forum your voice! Please tell us something about how you feel about dogs, as pets, and particularly about dogs that are abused or simply killed under any excuse whatsoever?
Mike: Dogs, and all animals for that matter, deserve to be treated humanely. Any form of animal abuse disgusts me. I have always loved animals and grew up with family pets myself. However, I became involved with animal rescue with Shayla Weston back in 2000.
GHN: How did you come to learn about Ace and how you felt about it?
Mike: I learned about Ace on Sunday, November 6th, 2011. Shayla Weston called me and told me about what she knew and asked me to act as his owner in an effort to get him out. When I knew, he was at DAC, I was concerned. Back in 2000, I had walked through that place and actually rescued 8 puppies—that were cases of owner-surrenders—before they had the chance to take them inside. I was trying to help recover one of our rescues dogs who had been picked up by DAC. The place disgusted me. I went in, got the dog I was originally looking for, and went outside. There was a man trying to see these eight puppies; I told him no one was going to buy the puppies; that they would be killed. He had fed them Rice Krispies too; it was all over the box. Anyway, he finally gave me the puppies. After a few minutes, a guy walked up to an older lab mix. He didn’t speak any English, only Spanish. He was crying and from what I could understand, he didn’t want to give up the dog. His landlord told him he couldn’t keep him. I convinced him to let me take the dog and he agreed. I called Shayla to let her know what was going on. She told me to bring them all home. So, instead of one dog that we were returning to the founder of the rescue league, I was coming back with ten! In the long run, we adopted out all the puppies and kept the older lab mix. We named him Luis. He died on July 26th. 2010. Anyway, I knew how horrible DAC was and knew ACE had no chance of surviving. I also felt that I could prove I was his owner and get him out. I had no doubts at that time and was going to fight to get him out of DAC.
GHN: So when was the first time you went up to DAC and what happened there?
Mike: The first time I went there was Monday, November 7th, at about 9:15 AM. I told the people there that Ace was mine and they took me back to see him. There was s desk attendant and security guard there and they were not very friendly. They told me they would take me to see him and I pretended his name was “Rocky”. They took me to a medical type of room where they had set up a makeshift kennel. Ace was leaning against the wall, lethargic, with a bowl of dry dog food sitting in front of him. It looked like he had a bad case of mange, had a neck injury from an embedded collar or something, and of course, he was very thin. I petted him for a while, trying to get him to perk up a bit, but it didn’t work. The attendant told me to come back after 10:30 with $150.00 and pictures of my backyard, proving it was secure. It seemed like I was going to get him. I called Shayla and she left work to come down to Detroit to help. She set up a Vet appointment for him through a rescue league she worked for. We came back in two separate cars, at about 12:00. I called DAC and someone who I hadn’t spoken to previously answered the phone. This man spoke with slurred speech and said to me, “I doubt the dog is really yours.” When I got there, Shayla waited off the property. I went in and a person I hadn’t seen previously approached me at the desk, and he told me that Ace was clinging to life and the Vet was working on him. They also told me that I could see myself that the kennel was empty. They took me back and Ace was gone. This man then told me that if I wanted to claim Ace as mine, I would be arrested for animal abuse. The security guard stepped forward in an attempt to put handcuffs on me. I couldn’t be arrested; I just couldn’t, so I left.
GHN: When did you visit the DAC again about Ace and what happened then?
Mike: I didn’t go back again until Wednesday the 9th. I had an attorney with me as well. That morning, another woman showed up who claimed she was Ace’s owner. She was there with Hush from DDR (Detroit Dog rescue). She was very upset and had documentation to prove Ace was really hers. We were walked through DAC to look at the dogs that were there. Some of the people that had been there on Monday were there again. They walked me through the entire DAC. They took me to the cages for sick dogs where it was filthy with feces, vomit, and even live worms in the feces. None of it was cleaned up. They took me by all the cages for the other dogs, and I even saw the Vet room where Ace was two days prior. I poked my head in and nothing was there, no kennel, no Vet, no Ace.
It was at that time that I saw another DAC employee walking a Spud McKenzie looking puppy down the hall on a catch pole. The employee was pushing this poor puppy’s face into the wall while she stopped to have a conversation with another employee. The puppy was so scared that it was urinating all over himself. It made me want to punch this employee in the face; I was so angry. But there was nothing I could really do about it. They finally took me to a cage where the guy said the dog was Ace. It was a healthy looking pit bull—no mange, no neck injury, no skin and bones. I said “Come on man, you know this is not Ace!” He insisted it was. They couldn’t show me any other dogs, so I finally left.
It was at this time that I called Shayla and let her know what had happened. She had arranged for the attorney and did all the legwork. She and I both figured out at that moment that Ace had probably been killed, maybe even on Monday. Before leaving, Hush from DDR got my information too. He called me later that night and we met at a nearby location. He listened to the account of what had happened from the point of my involvement to that day, November 19, 2011. I thought that after the meeting, Hush would help to shed some light on what I knew. I just wanted people to know the “truth” and Hush was in the media enough to do just that. He took my number and told me he would call; but after that night, I never heard from him again.
GHN: So you did suspect of anything bad having already happened to Ace when you saw the empty kennel?
Mike: When I saw the empty kennel, I knew that Ace might not be alive. But it wasn’t until they tried to pretend that the other pit bull was Ace that I knew. I knew that Ace had probably been killed.
GHN: When did you learn that Ace had been killed and how you did you receive the news?
Mike: I learned that Ace had been killed from the news. However, they claimed he had been killed on Thursday the 10th after they “did not receive” the court injunction to stop the killing of ANY dog that looked like Ace. I thought to myself, “Bullshit! Ace was gone on Wednesday the 9th when I was there”. In fact, after really thinking he was probably killed on Monday the 7th sometime after I left to go home, to take pictures of my yard, get the $150.00, and return at noon to get him. He was, in fact, gone from where he had been when I returned for a 2nd time on Monday.
GHN: Given your experience at DAC, do you think animal control facilities like this need to be closed down or radically reformed?
Mike: DAC needs to be either staffed more appropriately or closed down immediately. The conditions there are sickening.
GHN: Mike, we are indebted to you for your compassion and active attempts to save Ace from death. Thank you so much!
Mike: It was my pleasure to try to save Ace. If I could do it all again, I would. I just wish Ace was spared.
~ ~ ~
Editor’s Note: GHN is thankful to Shayla Weston for assisting with the interview and especially to Mike who volunteered to reveal the truth about DAC in Ace’s demise.