Doing Some Northern Dog Clinic Spay and Neuter Math

Northern Dogs volunteer, Stef, comforts Timber after he was neutered at the firehall.

It’s been a bit of a crazy spring with the first set of Northern Dogs clinics taking place during a very wintery April and the second set taking place at the end of May and into June. From these two successful trips, more than 450 dogs (plus about 25 cats) were health checked and vaccinated and of these, more than 200 were spayed or neutered as well. That’s a whole big bunch of wellness and outreach provided by the International Fund for Animal Welfare to six remote communities and their dogs.

Assuming that half of the 200 sterilizations were females (spays), that’s 100 females having two litters per year with let’s say four surviving pups in each litter. That’s an additional 800 pups born into communities who are already telling us they have too many dogs. And of course, those cute pups can reproduce at six months so if half of the first litter of pups were females, you potentially have another 200 females having one litter of four pups by the time we get back next spring.

That’s way too many dogs for any community to handle so it’s obvious that spay/neuter is an effective and humane population tool.  Spay and neuter programs also help modify behavioural issues (such as multiple males packing up on females to breed) and increases individual dog welfare (males suffer from wounds they get from fighting and carrying/nursing a litter of pups is very costly for a female). We visited kids at the schools and had many chats with owners about responsible ownership and answered specific questions around feeding, health and behaviour.

I was home long enough to rehome some of the five dogs and five pups we brought back with us. I put the rest into rescue and just heard that one of our rehomed dogs landed on the pages of the Toronto Sun!

Before heading off to northern Ontario to work with Friends of Animush (Animush = dog in Oji-Cree) on their project, I also am lucky enough to be basking in the happy updates from the new Northern Dog owners!.

Ann, who runs the Friends of Animush, has borrowed IFAW vet equipment and I am helping her as part of her team of nine. Ann, a nurse, worked in one of the Friends of Animush communities for eight years so this project is an extension of that work and greatly benefits from her relationships and experience on the ground as an integral, and embedded, member of the community.

Four of us left southern Ontario early Friday morning in an oversized camper for the 23 hour drive to Pickle Lake. We arrived in the morning, transferred our cargo onto the small plane and flew half an hour into the fly-in community (yes, you can still feel incredibly sick on a flight that short).

The rest of the team arrives with Ted of Cloud Nine Rescue Flights shortly…

With no cell service, you have to listen for the plane or walk to the airport to watch the sky. Gotta fly… it’s time to greet my compadres. More tomorrow…

-- JH

For more information on the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to save animals in crisis around the world visit

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