Tag Archives: FAWI

Life Beyond – It’s all About Timing

It’s all about socialization!

Socialization is the window from 3 to 12 weeks of age for dogs in which their innate fear is less than their desire to experience their environment.

After that period of time, what has not been learnt favourably becomes difficult to learn or unlearn.

Thus unwanted behaviours and fears require desensitization and counterconditioning to adjust to life. A lot of work!

Let’s make sure all dogs get a great start and if they haven’t, the poor pups need much time to adjust.

Dr. Judith Samson-French

Why Over Vaccinate?

Why over vaccinate tiny little dogs?

I don’t know.

Dogs With No Names project has worked in several Indigenous communities across Canada using contraceptive implants to rapidly reduce an unwanted dog population by initially targeting females.
This provides two clear and immediate benefits:

1. Increased public safety through decrease fighting/chaos around females no longer in heat.

2. Huge welfare benefit for females who may otherwise deliver unwanted puppies in the winter.

As such, we also provide rabies vaccine, essential in case of dog bites, and over the years, we have added a parvo/distemper vaccine to prevent mortality of sexually-neutralized females.
Outdoor females, that is.

Lately, a spay/neuter group went to a First Nations community to hold a surgical clinic. That is good news. However, ‘driveable’ First Nations (FN) communities in southern Alberta have access to veterinary care. That means, many FN residents take their dogs to a veterinarian for routine care such as vaccinations.

At my veterinary hospital, 8 small dogs (under 10 pounds) owned by regular FN clients came in to get vaccine boosters for their dogs who had just been ‘done’ at the recent spay/neuter clinic.

This was an unpleasant situation: all 8 little tiny dogs were already properly vaccinated with several of them on a 3 year vaccine schedule. The FN dog owners were upset their dogs got over vaccinated. These little dogs are totally indoors and do NOT contribute to the overpopulation of dogs on the rez nor put public safety in jeopardy.

Dogs With No Names project has federal oversight and reports on all contraceptives used in dogs in Canada. To that intent, all dogs in our projects are microchipped.

Some outdoor dogs just spayed, had recently received an implant. Thus, one of us wasted resources as females do not need their ovaries removed AND an implant.

A phone call before the spay/neuter clinic would have easily identified the dogs at risk (welfare), the dogs in need of spaying, and residents dealing with semi-feral dogs in dire need of help.

We all have finite resources, why not work together to enhance these resources for the benefit of the dogs who really need a break?

As for neutering and vaccinating 5 year old chihuahua living exclusively indoors… I don’t get it.

~Judith Samson-French DVM

The Problem…Which Rez Dog do you Neuter?

The question

What problem are you trying to solve?

If an overpopulation of dogs is perceived, why are you neutering males?

If you are neutering males, which males do you neuter first?

The big alpha ones who run the show and are intent to breed females in heat? Or the ‘satellite’ males, the ones who run around at the periphery and not really taking part of the action?

If you neuter the alpha ones, the satellite dogs will become the alpha ones. If you neuter the satellite dogs, the alpha ones still run the show.

Most of all, why neuter 5 year old indoor yorkie or chihuahua males?

What problem are you trying to solve when indiscriminately neutering males, or neutering small indoor males?

Dr. Judith Samson-French

3 Ways to Spay a Dog

In North America, veterinarians are generally trained to remove the uterus and ovaries (spay) whereas in Europe, the removal of the ovaries (and sparing the uterus) is often the norm.

Some advocate to spare the ovaries for health reasons (and remove only the uterus) which means females will go through heat cycles, attract males and chaos, but be infertile.

Since chaos around females in heat is often a public safety issue and dog welfare problem, not removing the ovaries seems inappropriate for a successful dog population management program.

But why not just remove the ovaries and leave the uterus behind (ovariectomy, not ovariohysterectomy) which means a less invasive surgery for the free-roaming females?

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.

Working Together

Communities throughout the world can clearly benefit from a little help managing runaway dog populations. To exponentially accelerate results why not consider the following 3 points:

1. Permanently and individually identify the dogs handled.
2. Leave a record of activities performed with the community.
3. Work with communities that have a strong dog champion.

This way, unrelated groups working in a community over time can assure some continuity and avoid spaying a dog already spayed.

Why Can’t the Government Make the Right Decision About Wild Horse Culls?

Why can’t the government make the right decision about wild horses culls in Alberta?

In my view, because the wrong people are handling the issue.

Wildies management falls under the Alberta Grazing & Range division whose mandate is to preserve forage for cattle. The range biologists are very knowledgeable about vegetation and livestock grazing needs of crown land.

However, since Wildies do not fall under the Wildlife Act, forage specialists are managing a mammal population that is far beyond their expertise: that is where things fall apart.

When range biologists are questioned on survey methodology and population estimates of Wildies (which often make no sense such as impossible population growth…) no sound explanation is put forth. And that is normal because they are out of their proficiency and budget zone.

On the other hoof, Fish & Wildlife biologists are very skilled at producing reliable population COUNTS for ‘huntable’ species (moose, elk, deer…) with strong confidence intervals. Statistically significant population counts are achieved through properly designed survey methods such as stratified blocks, and time tested computer modelling. It’s about defining age and sex cohorts AND the variables that affect those.

All that range specialists have been able to do is establish TRENDS based on poor methodology – this would be totally unacceptable for our ‘huntable’ species.

So how many Wildies should be culled (what sex and age, and in which area) have so far been done based on wild trends guesstimates.
As a result, culls have been very poorly executed.

Sadly, this inefficiency elegantly demonstrates that culls beget more culls when done inappropriately. And that is a waste for all.

Bewildered Wildies trio by Duane Starr Photography

Dr. Judith Samson-French

Duane Starr Photography

Who Owns Alberta Wildies?

Cecil the lion always ‘belonged’ to trophy hunters.
He lived in the wild but on borrowed time.
Cecil’s time was up when trophy hunter Palmer decided it was.

And so it is with entire ecosystems across the world.
Alberta is no different.

Duane Starr Photography

Alberta has sold/given crown land rights away to extraction companies, ranchers and hunters decades ago.
In doing so, Alberta has privatized chunks of crown land and abandoned its role as steward to become a landlord.
Often, a very generous landlord.
Wild animals and their habitats, a cherished public heritage, are now at the mercy of short-sighted private industry groups.

And so every year, the charade of evaluating secretive information (not accessible to public) about Wildies to decide their fate has become a disappointing winter ritual.
But really who owns the Wildies?

Isn’t it time for Alberta to transition back from a landlord role to one of stewardship?

The conflict of nature’s ownership, Wildies in clearcut area by Duane Starr Photography

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

Duane Starr Photography

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

3 Solutions – Which are you Using?

When assisting communities to humanely deal with unwanted dogs, there are 3 possible immediate solutions:


1. Stop or decrease “littering”
This starts with the prevention of as many pregnancies (ie targeting females) as possible, as fast as possible, with surgical and/or non-surgical intervention and conventional means (sequestration of females in heat).
2. Prevent influx of dogs in the communities.
Especially non sexually neutralized dogs (spayed or neutered).
3. Encourage adoption of excess dogs within and outside the communities.
For a dog population management plan to sustainably succeed in the long term, more than one solution needs to be applied. This also implies that each community needs to implement a set of bylaws suitable and enforceable to their specific needs.
Dr. Judith Samson-French