Investigation and Rescue

MHS Cruelty Investigation

For nearly 100 years, local animals suffering abuse and neglect have shared a source of hope in the Michigan Humane Society’s cruelty investigators. MHS investigates more than 5,000 animal cruelty complaints each year in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park.

With the most common cruelty hotline complaints concerning companion animals lacking the food, water, or shelter necessary to maintain life – matters covered by Michigan’s anti-cruelty statutes – these professionals often serve as front-line humane educators. Clear, yet tactful, communication is their primary instrument, and they work to encourage pet owners to provide for their animals’ physical and emotional requirements. Follow-up visits also play a major role in protecting these at-risk animals to ensure they continue receiving proper care.

On days with extreme weather conditions, the average number of incoming reports easily can triple the team’s workload. To dispatch help as quickly as possible, office coordinators pinpoint the exact location for each complaint, gather key details, and prioritize the cases for the east-side and west-side cruelty investigation teams.

When necessary, the investigators will seek to have the animal surrendered to MHS. If an animal is in immediate peril, the investigators can seek to remove the animal and pursue a prosecution when sufficient evidence is available.

Each year, MHS responds to approximately 150 calls related to dog fighting, a cruel practice in which dogs are bred and trained to fight for the entertainment and monetary gain of their owners and other spectators.

In addition to exploiting and abusing the dogs involved, this brutal “sport” often is accompanied by illegal activities, such as illegal gambling and the selling and distribution of drugs and firearms. However, through their expert collection of evidence and testimony in court, the investigators often are able to remove these dogs from their lives of fighting and pain, and bring those responsible to justice.

Upon rescuing animal victims, the MHS team thoroughly investigates the environment, circumstances and people involved in these criminal acts.

Legal procedure and protocols inclusive of requesting warrants, reviewing and handling evidence, and interviewing witnesses are necessary steps required to ensure that those who harm animals are brought to justice.

In the field of cruelty investigation, walking into the unknown is an everyday occurrence. Whether rescuing an animal from a dangerous situation, or dealing with unpredictable animals (and often their more-unpredictable owners), these individuals put their personal safety on the line. It’s certainly true that the MHS cruelty investigation team has witnessed the worst in humankind as it pertains to the intentional mistreatment of companion animals. 


MHS rescue agents are critical to saving animal lives in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park. These specially trained responders assist more than 3,000 injured, stray, and wild animals each year, including many who are drowning, trapped, or hit by cars. MHS rescue staff often work alongside MHS cruelty investigators on cases requiring additional skilled animal handling, such as dog-fighting raids and animal collector/hoarder houses, all of which require special training. In some cases, what begins as an emergency rescue turns into a cruelty investigation.



Injured, Stray, or Owned Pets in Need of Help
To report an injured, stray, or owned pet in need of help in the cities of Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park, call the MHS Emergency Animal Rescue Hotline: 313-872-3401
8:30a – 2:30p, Monday through Friday, 8:30a – 2p Saturdays.

In other cities, please contact the local animal control/police department.

Search for your local MI police department.
Search for your local MI animal control.

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