MI Shelter Closed and ACO Suspended After Dogs Found in Grave Condition

The shelter for the city of River Rouge, MI appears to fall under the police department.  The website says:

River Rouge Animal Control is operated by the Animal Control Officer Ernest Bowling Sr. The Animal Control Officer is available Monday, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

ACO Bowling recently brought two dogs in need of immediate veterinary care to the city shelter, and while no one can say exactly when that was (?), it was presumably on a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday.  Both dogs were apparently left in cages to suffer. When the manager arrived on Tuesday, apparently seeing the dogs for the first time, both were dying:

“The pit bull had a hole in his head so that when he would take a breath blood would squirt out,” [volunteer Tom] Maskeny said. “There was blood on the sidewalk and in the shelter from him.”


Maskeny said the Yorkie also was just tossed into a cage. When volunteers arrived it was laying on the concrete next to a bowl of food, not moving.

Both dogs were taken to a vet who euthanized the elderly yorkie but was able to save the pitbull.

ACO Bowling has been suspended while an investigation is conducted and the shelter is being closed. The animals are being transferred to other facilities and a call for foster homes has been issued.

I don’t know any history on this shelter but it’s hard to imagine that this event occurred in a vacuum.  It’s also concerning that the police department will likely investigate itself in the matter.  If anyone sees any updates on this story, please share.

9 thoughts on “MI Shelter Closed and ACO Suspended After Dogs Found in Grave Condition

  1. “Bowling is a contract employee, but had previously worked for more than 30 years for the city in the same role….” Reading the comments, it seems Bowling should have been fired long ago. I shudder to think of animals under his “care” for all those years.

  2. Yes, very unlikely that this was a first time offense. The man is running his own personal horror show, it seems, and collecting a paycheck for it.

    I’d like to see a full investigation and charges brought, but…not likely, is it?

    1. Paula, I was getting a little squinty that you did not offer a synopsis of what really happened as related by the enlightening comments. So I decided to read a few and see for myself. After reading a few, I was compelled to read them ALL. And having done so, I am much relieved that I do not have to choose sides in this fracas! There seems to be enough blame to go around that each camp can give as good as it gets.

      In case you sensed my initial squint in your direction, I take it back and apologize.

      I hope we will soon be reading that this has all been resolved and everyone involved has been dealt with justly and the shelter has reopened with sound policies, capable management, reliable staff, support of volunteers, and the confidence of the community and of city government.

  3. I do know the pit was an owner surrender and was just put in a cage in terrible condition. He has been pulled by a rescue, treated and is now in need of a foster home. I don’t know about the Yorkie, just that he didn’t survive.
    The current director has made major improvements and changes in this place and it is one of the best in the area. In fact, as soon as she was made aware of these dogs, she took care of them immediately.
    The problem is this ACO who put the dogs in the kennels and left over the weekend. He is the only one who should be punished here. I don’t know what their policy is about taking care of animals over weekends, which would be good to know, but this does not reflect the changes that have been made with the new director.
    The reason the shelter has been shut down is that legally they have to have an ACO to have it open. I asked the same question about why not just prosecute the offending ACO. This is a temporary closure and they will reopen. They are very, very rescue friendly and have some great volunteers.
    And if anyone is in the SE Michigan area, Capone (whose eye was saved) is doing so well that he will be needing a foster home very soon. This is the link to the rescue who took care of him (the same one that saved the pup, Patty who was skinned alive a year ago). They don’t turn away from the tough cases:

  4. The dogs that were brought in by now ex ACO ernie were brought insometime between when the shelter volunteers left at around 1230 and when the Shelter attendent (manager) Came back to the shelter for the eveining shift around 5pm. So the dogs could have been in their cages for up to 4.5 hrs in the condition they were in. When ACO put them in cages and left he should have notified either the shelter attendent or cheif of police that their were 2 animals in need of immediate medical attention if since he did not sekk medical help for them himself. but he didnt. He locked them in cages and left.

    The yorkie was very very old in an extreme amount of pain and was in very very poor body condition and the vet recomnded he be put to sleep as it was the most humane and kind thing that could be done for the poor yorkie. The other dog (pit or pit mix) had been surrendered by its owner and ACO picked the dog up from the owners house and transported him to the shelter an place him in a cage. The dog had been a fight with another dog in its home. He was in beyond horrible shape, bleading cuts. puncture wound, and even a hole that punutured thru his skull and into his nasal cavity. Fourtunetly he will survive and some already provdided the link to more information about him and his road to recovery.

    Until about 1.5 years ago every animal that walked thru the doors of River Rouge (RR) shelter never walked back out. With the exception a the very very few thats owners some how knew the unmarked building was the pound and if they were somehow able to find a phone number (it was not listed in phone book or online), get a call back, and able to get ACO to let them see if their dog was at shelter (this was near impossible to do). There was a time all animals were sold to research. Then when a big enough protest was made the selling to research was not allowed and all the animals were then gassed.

    Then about 1.5 years ago a woman said no more and spoke to the city council, police cheif and who ever else she needed to and was able to get her foot in the door at the shellter. And since that day the only animals that have been put down are the few that were very ill or very injured or in extreme pain and the vets felt there was not way to save them. And 1 dog was put down for human agression that it showed on a couple occasions, and the decision to do so was not made untill efforts had been made to work with the dog and its aggression and a couple different trainers came and did an evaul on temperment. The shelter underwent a makeover called roverhaul which was sponsered by Lowes and MHS. The shelter has a group of volunteers that continues to grow in size, The animals are verywell cared for, loved and given dignity and respect. The shelter does not get much foot traffic and relys heavily on social media to get the animals out of the shelter and into responsible homes or into a local rescues.

  5. I hope he is punished harshly for failing those he was hired to care for! He deserves no leniency and there is no excuse for his behavior! Those who let power go to their heads are losers and don’t deserve to work where animals depend on them. They have the attitude of I can do what I want because I can! Low life bastard!

Leave a Reply