The abundance of media stories of Detroit and its plight are becoming larger than life by the day. If I believe the sensationalist media, the city where I have spent my half-century on earth is barely recognizable to me anymore, thanks to the fourth estate bobbleheads who have either never step foot here, or, they take a moment to zip through the city via their hired limousines just long enough to have their camera crew photograph some background ruin porn while they spin their melodramatic tales of Detroit’s long, slow, harrowing demise due to bankruptcy woes, oodles of $100 houses falling into disrepair, dead bodies percolating from the ground, and lastly, angry packs of feral dogs (in gangs of 20) roaming the streets and eating humans as appetizers.
Indeed, CNN satirist Poppy Harlow starts off her anecdotal interpretation of Detroit for CNN Primetime by stating, “In America’s biggest bankrupt city, where people are fleeing in droves…” Pause for a moment here.
I’d sure like to know the definition of “people fleeing in droves.” Surely, this wild-eyed statement was not supported by facts, though it sure sounds compelling. Detroit’s population decline has been occurring for 50 years, and recent years have evidenced a reverse flight of people fleeing the boring, highway-saturated suburbs for the most dense areas – downtown and historic neighborhoods – of Detroit.
Unfortunately, Poppy has allowed fiction to get in the way of facts throughout her piece. The main gist of the latest fable presented by CNN is that there are “thousands upon thousands of dogs roaming Detroit’s streets.” Really? As one who is navigating the city just about every day, by car, by bicycle, and by foot, I have never seen a shred of evidence of any wild packs of canines roaming the streets of Detroit.
In fact, it gets even more amusing when you read Yahoo’s latest joviality: “50,000 abandoned dogs roaming streets of Detroit in packs.” It hardly gets better than that. 50…thousand…dogs. On my numerous bike rides throughout the city, including both the dense areas and the outskirts of the killing fields, I have never been privy to roaming packs of anything, let alone groups of 2 or 5 or 20 dogs, as reported by the media that is desperate for woe-is-Detroit headlines. Even Bloomberg jumped on the “packs of dogs” fable, noting that as Detroit’s “latest crisis.” Business Insider reported that these feral creatures are “taking over the streets of Detroit.” A Washington Times headline reads, “Bankrupt Detroit: As many as 50,000 stray dogs roam city streets in packs.” Surely, the inclusion of “bankrupt” makes the Detroit plight seem even more fatalistic. One person from the Humane Society even called Detroit “post-apocalyptic” due to these invisible roaming packs. Gawker media gets even better. To quote:
But one thing Detroit can still be proud of: its roaming packs of wild dogs.
Though other cities may jeer at Detroit’s troubles while pompously displaying their “functional city governments” and “plumbing that has not been torn out,” none of those cities can match Detroit when it comes to the viciousness and ubiquity of the canine mobs controlling their streets.
Each media story copies heavily from the others, with a few original lines thrown in to make sure it is understood that Detroit is a rotted, unoccupied, apocalyptic war zone. What a shame that major media outlets keep composing this tinpot trash.
Sure, there are stray dog problems in Detroit, like anywhere else, especially in the cities where the pit bull stereotype – a philistine status symbol – is alive and well. Just look on Petfinder.com, and especially, filter on “pit bull.” At the suburban animal shelter in my neighborhood, 95% of the dogs are pit bulls.
No one I know who lives and breathes Detroit has any knowledge of this apparent affliction of roaming packs of feral canines that give rise to the latest media buzz. While this falsehood is laughable, it is also disturbing to see that the story is being scattered throughout the media for lack of any more amusing headlines. Our Poppy Harlow ends up with this poignant statement: “and like so much else in Detroit, man’s best friend is waiting to be rescued.” Oh please, Poppy, come and rescue us, just like those who sat on their rooftops during Hurricane Katrina, waiting for the U.S. Government of Incompetence to come and rescue them.
We folks here in Detroit actually prefer to not have people like Poppy Harlow call for our rescue. In fact, some of us here are even perfectly fine with purging the city’s years of corruption and largesse via a bankruptcy. We are not sitting on our rooftops waiting for the government helicopters to rain down fiat dollars or rescue ladders. I document Detroit’s ground-up resurgence from a non-sensationalist, in-the-trenches perspective at my blog, “Detroit: From Rust to Riches.”11:39 am on September 15, 2013 Email Karen De Coster