Crisscrossing through cities, highways and abandoned lots is part of a normal day for Juniper Fleming, 31, a founder of Rebel Dogs Detroit.

Fleming moved to Detroit from New York City with her partner, Johan Spoman, 32, in 2016 and the two were shocked to see the number of dogs running through the streets and in need of help. Experts have had a difficult time getting a grasp of the exact numbers of strays but in 2012, media reports estimated them to be in the tens of thousands. The pair took to helping other rescues, but eventually branched out into their own group.

“Living in Detroit and falling in love with the city itself, we quickly found a disconnect between the rescue organizations that we were fostering for and the city, which we loved... Oftentimes, these rescues were seeing Detroiters as the problem and not a part of the solution,” Fleming said. Fleming and Spoman found others with similar ideas and founded Rebel Dogs Detroit, a nonprofit, so they could address the issue on their own terms such as having a sliding pay scale for those looking to adopt.

Based out of their home near Arden Park, the pair are planning to move operations to a newly built shelter at 9141 Monica St. in Detroit, which is expected to open in the coming months.

Adoptions cost $275 for an adult dog and include all medical costs such as spay or neuter, shots, a microchip and whatever it takes for a clean bill of health. The sliding scale applies to those who are at or below the poverty line and want to take in an adult pit bull. 

In under 4 years of operation, Rebel Dogs Detroit has saved and adopted out over 1,500 dogs.

Volunteers take calls for help, rescue the animal, take them to ERs and veterinarians, find temporary foster homes and review applications for adoptions.

Fleming takes the time to talk to fosters and future adoptees to ensure they are a safe fit for dogs and to make sure the animals don’t return to the streets.

“As a former foster, I felt like the foster's knowledge of the dog was underappreciated and underutilized. … We include them in decision-making for the dog's well-being, both in the immediate and in the long term, because they know the dog so much better than we ever could.”

If an animal is in need of medical care, behavioral assistance or supplies and other resources, adoptees are welcome and highly encouraged to reach out to the organization. For Fleming, care doesn’t stop when a dog has been adopted out.

“Once a dog has been a Rebel Dog, it's always going to be a Rebel Dog.”

More information on the organization can be found at

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