I adopted my first dog, Sadie, about fifteen years ago. She was a shy, scared Pit Bull and Shar-pei mix with terrible separation anxiety. Then came Samson, an old guy who was dumped at the Palm Springs pound and looked like a manatee. I've been "mom" to three more rescue dogs since. My heart bleeds for these dogs. If I had a farm, I'd bring them all home. Til then, I am eternally grateful for incredible organizations doing the work of animal-saving saints.
Rebel Dogs Detroit is one such group. They are a radical rescue collective serving the Detroit stray dog population. They are out in the streets at all hours - rain, snow or shine - saving dogs from some of the most heart wrenching conditions I've ever seen. They have rescued over 1500 dogs since their inception
I recently fostered a Rebel Dog named Patches. We were able to adopt her out to a fantastic home and the process gave me the opportunity to get to know the organization a bit more. I talked to Rebel Dogs director, Juniper Fleming about the rescue work that she and a small but mighty group of volunteers do on the streets of Detroit.
Stacy Conde: What motivated you all to start the rescue?
Rebel Dogs: Detroit has an enormous stray population, and the funding towards animal welfare in the city is very limited. While one of our goals is to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home strays, another one is to help Detroiters find their new furry family members! We are attempting to be reachable and approachable, and get the feedback that we are!
SC: I follow a lot of rescue orgs and have had five rescue dogs over the years, but I’ve never seen as many urgent scenarios as I have since I moved to the Detroit area and started following Rebel Dogs. Why does Detroit have such an overpopulation problem?
RD: Poverty is part of the cause in most pet abandonment cases. When enough unfixed pets are abandoned, they multiply.
SC: What exactly does Rebel Dogs do – how do you find out about dogs that need help and how do you help them?
RD: We receive numerous calls and messages about injured and healthy strays, people looking for their lost dogs, dogs needing to be surrendered, dogs already rescued and people in need of food and other resources. We get a lot of calls from people in distress facing homelessness and not knowing what to do about their dogs. We also get called when people see sudden behavioral changes in their dogs and they don't know how to relate to it.
People also call us for wellness checks on owned, chained dogs - we are most times not the right organization for that, but we are able to connect people with the right authority or outreach program based on the situation and where they are located.
SC: You are working toward building a Rebel Dogs facility. Tell me a bit about this and how it will help boost the work that you are able to do.
RD: We have already ordered two large prefabricated kennel buildings. We still need help, both financially and volunteer labor, in order to make this all come together!
Fencing and concrete pouring, electrical work and plumbing are things we can use some help with in just a few months from now. We accept donations through our website, or Facebook. People sometimes make their own fundraisers for us, which is a great help!
SC: How can people help support Rebel Dogs?
RD: Foster, adopt, like, share and follow our work! Utilize us as a resource when you come across abandoned or abused dogs. If you live in an area with breed specific legislations (pit bull bans), join a a local group working to end those misconceptions. We need to end the dog overpopulation entirely.
Learn more, adopt, foster, donate and shop Rebel Dogs merchandise here.