Spotlight Canada: amazing Northern Dogs team succeeds, only with community support

Chilling on the way south.The last Northern Dogs Project vet clinic was over quickly. 

It always seems like the vet team has just arrived when, before I know it, they are flying out again.  This community has a very visible roaming dog population this year and while we certainly didn’t get to every dog, the 54 dogs we spayed and neutered and the 148 vaccinations that we administered certainly help to move the community towards a stable, healthy, vaccinated dog population. 

The Northern Dogs Project will certainly be back again next year to continue our work.

The last day of clinics is always frenetic because the vet team performs surgery right up until the clinic closes before they pack up the surgical equipment and supplies and jump into the van to get themselves to the airport -- which is an hour and a quarter away. 

The rest of the Northern Dogs team stays behind to pack the equipment in the remaining two vans and pick up any four legged passengers who are coming south.  This year that meant one cat and the four feral pups from this community – passengers that we decided to pick up the next day as we headed past on our way south. 

As we headed out of the community, Stef and I stopped to drop off vaccination certificates for the Chihuahuas that Denise had vaccinated at their home the night before.  Heidi took her van and headed to the airport to pick up a puppy who was flying in from another community to travel home with us. 

When Stef and I arrived to drop off the certificates, one of the year old Chihuahuas was lethargic and ill – a reaction to the vaccination from the night before.  I texted MJ immediately -- thankfully she was still at the airport to receive my “help!” message.  

One of the final patient gets wheeled out of the clinic after surgery in his very own wagon - with pillow!She pulled together the appropriate medication and dose and sent it back to us via Heidi (who had arrived by that time and picked up the puppy).  As expected, the Chihuahua responded well to the medication and three hours after packing up we were finally on our way out of the community again. 

With dogs to pick up in all the communities, tomorrow will see us backtracking from the southern most community where we end the clinics, to the northernmost where we begin the clinics. 

Up early the next day, Stef and I drove (once again through snow) to pick up four dogs, one young pup and two cats who would travel the next two days with us.  From there, we started back south to meet up with Heidi, the puppy and two adults she already had, before continuing on in convoy to pick up the final cat and four feral pups. 

After five days of providing vet services, the Northern Dogs team had seen almost 375 animals. 

One hundred and thirty five dogs (and some cats) were spayed and neutered which meant fewer dogs having puppies, fewer puppies (who themselves will have had puppies by the time we visit next time), fewer males chasing and fighting over females, and fewer females expending lots of energy on finding mates and raising litter after litter. 

The Northern Dogs Project aims to help not just the dog populations but individual dogs and their people. 

Thanks to a wonderful team and community members who welcome our services, I think we accomplished this amazing goal again this year. 


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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters