Category Archives: FAWI

Chemical castration of dogs – helpful?

Chemical castration of dogs – helpful?

The answer may be found in a study done on a statistically significant number of dogs in Chile.

It concluded the majority of dogs displayed no long-term (up to 6 months) testosterone levels change after chemical sterilization.

Does castration help reduce roaming?

The implications? We need to better understand the role testosterone plays on sexual, aggressive and
roaming behaviours to appropriately chose the best method of sterilization and intended impact on male dogs beyond shooting blanks.

Our team does not believe, at this point, that chemical sterilization is an ideal choice for free-roaming rez dogs: if a chemically castrated dog continues to pursue females in heat and engage in dog aggression, it remains a public safety issue.

Your thoughts?

Dr. Judith Samson-French

Effects of surgical and chemical sterilization on the behavior of free-roaming male dogs in Puerto Natales, Chile.
Garde E1, Pérez GE2, Vanderstichel R3, Dalla Villa PF4, Serpell JA5.


Blueprint to raise the bar – Alberta

Raising the bar

Over the last 3 decades, the Alberta landscape has increasingly been taken over by private interests. The “multi-use” reassurance has often degenerated to abuse as Fish & Wildlife has seen its conservation mandate decline to insignificance.

If the short-sighted often unmitigated multi-use of our crown land has become business as usual, it is time to become unreasonable and create a new vision.


I propose the following blueprint:

1. Rebuild our Fish & Wildlife agency and populate it with bright wildlife managers AND conservation biologists.

2. Move Fish & Wildlife Officers out of Solicitor General’s office where they are isolated and bring them back in the game within the F & W agency.

3. Give some teeth to compliance and oversight – abuse of the land by whatever party must STOP.

4. Headwaters and Fisheries must be a priority again: drinking water, flood prevention and tourism should be taken more seriously. Really.

5. Open public consultations – there is a wealth of genius out there and exchange of info will bring clarity to issues for all.

(Get rid of advisory committees: if the feral horse one is any indication, they are stellar examples of ineptitude and incompetence, never mind unacceptably secretive).

6. Single portfolio ministry – raising standards handling the Alberta landscape is a gigantic task, who has time to handle Status of Women as well?

We need to STOP seeing our wildlife and ecosystems as overburden and see them as precious resources of which we hold stewardship.
Don’t you agree?

Inquisitive Wildies in logged area by Duane Starr Photography
Thank you to all who contributed suggestions by email or snail mail.

Dr. Judith Samson-French

Time to be unreasonable

Recently I have strongly decried wolf poisoning, coyote kill festivals and secretive wild horses culls.

What do they have in common?
1. They are not scientifically based
2. They are not humane
3. And they are not socially responsible

Peace time - wildies in Alberta

These very poor wildlife management methods cause much discord and chaos for all. Time to turn this around and be unreasonable, next post.

Duane Starr Photography – peace time

Dr. Judith Samson-French

Chemical castration – desirable for dogs with no names?

In my opinion,  the answer is no.

But let’s get a little background info first.

Chemical castration of dogs refers to two products: Zeuterin (Zinc gluconate) and Calcium chloride. The former is approved in USA (but not in Canada) while the latter has not had proper clinical trials to evaluate its efficacy and safety. Both involve injecting testicles with a chemical to produce tissue atrophy. Tissue swelling (which occurs from the mere fact of injecting liquid into a capsular structure) is a primary cause of discomfort post-injection and pain management must be implemented.

Zeuterin, unlike surgical castration, leaves enough testosterone behind to produce testosterone driven behaviours such as mounting of females (but shooting blanks), roaming  and packing. Those are precisely behaviours that people living in our remote and isolated communities find undesirable.

Free roaming dog

As for Calcium chloride, there is an overall lack of consistency in formulation, dosage, and administration as well as inadequate measures of sterility, safety, and testosterone reduction. For those reasons, Calcium chloride needs more controlled clinical trials BEFORE  its use in the field for purpose of sterilization be considered.

Because both products may produce significant pain and debilitating scrotal problems, chemically sterilized dogs should be kept under supervision and pain management implemented for one to two weeks post injection. This is simply not feasible with free-roaming dogs, dogs with no names.

As always, when trying new medical protocols in the field, one must be very conscious not to take advantage of disadvantaged populations who do not know better.

Dr. Judith Samson-French

Looking for employment

When dogs become unemployed…

Only 50 years ago, a team of dogs was the only mode of transportation in remote communities of Northern Canada.

Several canine generations later, dogs are still part of the social fabric but their role has changed, no longer an essential component for survival…

How many dogs does a remote community wish to sustain (notwithstanding the high cost of food), how to prevent inbreeding and inherent health problems where vet care is not available, what methods of population control are best suited to each community, how to train dogs to become socially acceptable companions …

A great deal of understanding and respect for cultural values and animal welfare are required to optimize community health and safety for both humans and dogs. Good things are in the making…

Photo courtesy of the Cultural Centre

Sled dod from a bygone era
Sled dod from a bygone era

of Moose Factory, James Bay, Ontario

Too many dogs – why?

Overpopulation of dogs happens for two main reasons when vet services are neither available nor affordable :

  1. Dogs are allowed to reproduce with little chance to find homes for their offsprings.
  1. Dogs are relinquished/abandoned by their owners who can or will no longer keep them.
Owned and roaming - doing well.
Owned and roaming – doing well.

It is that simple to define the problem.

The solution is more complex and will vary with cultural background. The dogs themselves can’t solve the problem.

It’s about seeking a balance between physically limiting breeding through sterilization (surgical or not), sequestering females in heat, and tying/fencing dogs and social or attitudinal changes about our relationship with dogs who are now entirely unemployed.

When there is limited access to education for people and training for dogs, the problem magnifies quickly.

Free roaming dogs

This awesome dog looks in good body condition. Does he have an owner? Maybe. He will not let us approach as he is mildly fearful of our presence.

Feral, semi-feral, free-roaming, loosely owned, community owned… are terms used to describe a population of dogs that is largely unwanted. But it can be misleading.

For now, to describe the dogs we see in James Bay area, we simplify it to “supervised” and “not supervised” until we are more familiar with their population.

Photo credit- Dr. Catherine Filejski

Is this beautiful dog owned or not?
Is this beautiful dog owned or not?