Changing Canadian Behaviours Towards Animals Will Take Time
On February 12, the Globe and Mail ran a story highlighting that dog culls take place across Canada, but implying that a comparison should be made with the cull of 100 sled dogs that happened recently.
Before we begin comparing the cull of the 100 sled dogs in BC to the culls that take place in remote communities, let us remember that the 100 dog cull in BC was done by a business, merely because the animals were a drain on the company’s profits. The issues facing remote communities in Canada are far more complex than just the bottom line.
Like in many urban and rural communities across Canada, it often starts innocently enough with a cute puppy. Puppies are often obtained without much thought to the commitment (let alone the resources) required to responsibly care for an animal. You don’t have to look far to find shelters that are full of dogs (and literally teeming with unwanted cats) who are often killed, not always humanely, for such reasons.
One of the noticeable differences in many remote Canadian communities is that there are no shelters where people can dump their unwanted dogs. Instead, those cute roaming puppies often turn into unwanted roaming dogs -- unsterilized and producing more cute puppies that will grow up into unwanted dogs. Dogs are domestic animals that depend on humans to feed and care for them. Left to their own devices, and without proper care, dog behaviours often become nuisance behaviours and in some cases, dogs become aggressive in their quest for survival.
With limited resources, a plethora of social issues that take priority and divert attention, and often no access to support or services that may offer alternatives, many communities feel they have no option but to kill dogs. But culling dogs (domestic dogs, not wild) is a grim task that no community does with pleasure or on a whim as your headline says. Many remote communities face when looking at how to effectively manage their dog populations – constantly killing dogs isn’t working but they don’t know how to do it differently.
Today there are ways to humanely and sustainably manage dog/human conflicts. An entire segment of animal welfare science and on-the-ground work is devoted to humane dog population management. The formula includes education that encourages greater responsibility among dog owners for the care and welfare of their individual animals (and for overall population issues), local legislation that enforces responsible ownership and keeps the onus on people, and access to veterinary services to create a stable, healthy dog population.
Some communities are looking at alternatives, and animal welfare groups are helping. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) -- and others groups across the country – is working together with communities to offer humane and sustainable tools. Work is ongoing in remote areas that do not have access to vet care, outreach or networks for re-homing. Solutions, and communities learning how to implement them, like anything, will take time.
For more information on the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to save animals in crisis around the world, visit http://www.ifaw.org