One of the dogs is attended to by veterinary workers.

One of the dogs is attended to by veterinary workers.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Macomb Animal Control copes with rescued dogs

Authorities find over 50 dogs at Sterling residence

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 14, 2019

Macomb County officials asked the public on Valentine’s Day to help man’s best friend after 53 dogs were reportedly rescued from a hoarding situation at a Sterling Heights property.

During a Feb. 14 press conference at Macomb County Animal Control headquarters in Clinton Township, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel held one of the rescued dogs, which he named Valentine, and discussed the situation.

“It was all hands on deck,” Hackel said. “It’s very unusual to get 53 feral dogs coming to your facility in a U-Haul truck.”

On Feb. 13, Sterling Heights police reportedly investigated a home in the area of Metropolitan Parkway and Schoenherr Road and learned that the property contained dozens of dogs. Authorities said they believed that the dogs were being hoarded. Sterling Heights Police Lt. Mario Bastianelli could not be reached by press time.

Fifty-four dogs were reportedly found at the scene. Macomb County Animal Control Chief Jeff Randazzo said he had no details about the home or the space where the dogs lived. But Hackel said the dogs were reportedly found in a U-Haul truck prior to the rescue.

“Apparently, they attempted to put them in that truck, no cages,” Hackel said. “Fifty-four dogs were in the U-Haul truck.”

During the rescue effort, one dog reportedly was desperate to escape. One dog attacked another, and the injured dog had to be euthanized, county officials said.

Hackel called the rescue a “unique situation,” but he said the animals are now in great hands and are getting great care. He said many of the dogs were “covered with feces” when police found them, and many were malnourished or had other health issues. But he said they’re getting cleaned up and checked out. And Valentine has already gotten a bath.  

“As sad as it is, I’m excited, because I’m looking at these dogs and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Oh my God, their life has just begun. They are going to be so happy moving forward,’” Hackel said.

Randazzo said the dogs were generally friendly and well-behaved. He said Valentine is considered the youngest of the dogs, and the oldest was estimated at 8 years old.

“They’re very affectionate, and so they’re starving for attention,” Randazzo said.

Hackel said the influx of dogs is overwhelming the county’s resources, so they are asking the public for help in the following ways:

• By donating money to cover the cost of medical care. The county suggests the nonprofit Macomb County Animal Welfare Fund.

• By donating supplies to Animal Control’s headquarters, 21417 Dunham Road in Clinton Township. Needed cleaning supplies include bleach, Lysol, antibacterial laundry soap, Dawn dishwashing liquid, towels and blankets. Pedigree dry dog food is also welcome.

Randazzo said he appreciates any community support.

“You can go to our Amazon wish list under Macomb County Animal Control, and you will see all our items that are on there,” he said.

Randazzo said that while the 53 rescued dogs won’t be put up for adoption right away, eventually the plan is to open up adoption candidates to rescue groups. Meanwhile, the Animal Control facility has other adoptable pets that it encourages the public to visit and check out.  

Anyone who has more information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Sterling Heights Police Department by calling (586) 446-2800. Find out more about Macomb County Animal Control, or learn how to make a donation, by visiting or by calling (586) 469-5115.

Call Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at (586) 498-1058.