For a few years various American media outlets have reported that on top of all its other problems, Detroit has an estimated 50,000 stray dogs.
Among the national publications or programs that have discussed at least tens of thousands of stray dogs in Detroit are the Today Show, Bloomberg, Rolling Stone, CNN and Yahoo.
One of the first sources of the estimate was a 2011 YouTube video, above, by Hush Carlisle, a Detroit rapper who became involved in attempts to rescue the city's strays. It's unclear how much scientific research is behind his number. Carisle's Detroit Dog Rescue carries the 50,000 number on its website.
It turns out that number may be drastically less, reports Aaron Foley on Jalopnik Detroit.
The World Animal Awareness Society, a nonprofit based in Ann Arbor, has been collecting data in Detroit for three years and releases some statistics today suggesting that on any given day, there may be less than 3,000 dogs roaming the streets. I'll emphasize "suggesting" heavily; there's no accurate way, in my opinion, to count every single stray dog in any city.
Now 3,000 is still a lot of dogs and something we shouldn't be proud of, but it's a hell of a lot less than the 50,000 figure being thrown around not too long ago. WAAS came to its figure with on-the-ground observations, weeding out "loose" dogs from dogs that are just peeing in their owner's front yard but not on a leash while doing so.
WAAS also noted that it saw few packs of feral dogs and that most strays were at one point cared for in a home. Many dogs, WAAS says, were used for fighting and being kept in abandoned homes.
The Free Press tackled the abandoned-dog question in August.