Wabaseemoong (Whitedog) has achieved success with no reported puppies this spring after two annual veterinary spaying and neutering clinics.
“In twelve-and-a-half months we have somewhat controlled the dog population,” said Waylon Scott, a community member from Kenora who helped with both clinics. “This year we can’t find any spring litter puppies.”
Scott began the spaying-neutering process by encouraging his community to sign a Band Council Resolution last year to bring in the Grey Bruce Aboriginal Qimmiq Team of veterinarians from southern Ontario for a five-year period.
“The Grey Bruce group fundraises probably 50 to 80 per cent of the costs,” Scott said. “The First Nation contributes about 20 to 30 per cent of it. Overall, the cost of doing each clinic is about $14,000 to $17,000.”
The six Grey Bruce veterinarians and five veterinarian technicians involved in this year’s clinic, held May 4-8 in the Treaty #3 community, completed 79 spays and neuters for a total of 183 at both clinics. More than 40 vaccinations were also completed on dogs that had been fixed at last year’s clinic, held in May 2013.
Scott said the community has been encouraging new dog owners to keep their dogs at home until the dogs can be spayed or neutered at the next veterinary clinic.
“I think the community is already taking ownership of the new dogs, they’re taking responsibility,” Scott said. “This year we had about four band members that bought new dogs and brought them to the community early this year, January or February, and they said they were going to wait until the next vet clinic happens in the community to bring them in to get spayed or neutered.”
Scott said the veterinarians provided their services for free at the veterinary clinics.
“It would cost anywhere from $400 to $550 to fix a dog,” Scott said. “They’re donating their time and services as well as the vaccinations against rabies and deworming the dogs.”
The veterinarians set up three surgery tables in the arena for the spaying and neutering surgeries.
“Everybody is anxious to see how the second annual vet clinic is going to turn out,” Scott said. “Last year there was great support for it. A lot of people were excited to actually see the numbers and to see less puppies. I think next year is going to make the biggest difference.”
Scott said the number of puppies has declined since the veterinarians began doing the clinics, from about 70-75 puppies the year before the first clinic, 20-25 puppies last year and none this year.
“Last year after the first vet clinic, the (community health) nurses rescued anywhere from 20-25 puppies,” Scott said in an e-mail. “This year we couldn’t rescue any puppies because we can’t find any puppies to rescue. So the first vet clinic has proven that dog population has been grasped and I believe that after another vet clinic or two, our dog population will be completely under control and dog packs will cease to exist in the community.”
Scott said other Treaty #3 communities are taking notice of Wabaseemoong’s efforts, with representatives visiting during the veterinarian clinic.
“During the clinic, I gave a Grassy Narrows band councillor a tour of the clinic,” Scott said. “He also had questions for the vet clinic team leader to see how to go about getting (the Grey Bruce Aboriginal Qimmiq Team) in his community.”
The Grey Bruce Aboriginal Qimmiq Team began performing clinics in Aboriginal communities about 10 years ago to provide a more humane alternative than culling to keep the dog population under control.
“I think the Grey Bruce Aboriginal Qimmiq Team will probably be in the Kenora area for the next five to 10 years if the other First Nations jump on board,” Scott said.
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