First Nations Communities Find Humane Solution to Dog Overpopulation
PetSmart Charities of Canada Provides $206,000 Grant
TORONTO, ON – A new program seeks to improve the safety of First Nations residents in Ontario by providing basic health care to over 1,000 free-roaming dogs and providing additional access to vet services for owned dogs. This program, the largest of its kind, is funded through a $206,000 grant from PetSmart Charities of Canada.
PetSmart Charities of Canada learned about the dog overpopulation issue from Chief Rex Knapaysweet of the Fort Albany First Nation. Free-roaming dogs in remote communities rely on human-based food, water and shelter to survive, but can pose a public threat because they are often unvaccinated, unaltered and feral.
“His personal passion and plea to break the cycle of members of his community getting hurt and having to use lethal control on the dogs really resonated with us,” said program manager Bryan Kortis.
Program partners include the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in Ontario Province, the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, regional health agencies for the target communities and Dogs With No Names, a nonprofit operated by leading veterinarian Judith Samson-French. Health Canada is also helping to fund the program.
Beginning in 2015, the program will provide contraceptive implants for 500 female dogs. The goal is to achieve zero population growth within two years by preventing female dogs from going into heat, while also reducing aggressive mating behavior in males. The program is modeled after a successful project led by Samson-French in the far north of Canada.
The program will involve Northern Ontario First Nations communities as well as the Town of Moosonee, located within the James and Hudson Bay Region of Ontario.
Because these communities are remote, it’s expensive and logistically difficult to fly in veterinarians to surgically fix enough of the free-roaming and owned dogs to make a difference at their current population levels.
“Weeneebayko Area Health Authority is excited to be part of this ground-breaking initiative for dog control, which will enhance the public health and safety within our regions,” stated Caroline Lidstone-Jones, WAHA Chief Quality Officer.
In addition to fixing the dogs, the program will register and provide vaccinations, deworming and microchips for the females, as well as 1,000 male dogs. There will also be an education program to help the affected communities maintain a healthy dog population and prevent dog-carried diseases and bites.
About PetSmart Charities® of Canada:
PetSmart Charities of Canada is a nonprofit animal welfare organization that saves the lives of homeless pets. More than 14,000 dogs and cats find homes each year through our adoption program in all PetSmart® stores and our sponsored adoption events. A leading funder of animal welfare, PetSmart Charities of Canada has granted more than $5 million to help pets in need, with a focus on spay/neuter services that help communities solve pet overpopulation. PetSmart Charities of Canada is a registered charity, separate from PetSmart, Inc.