Putting First Nations Dogs First

Carrie Trembinski

 

A $350,000 Grant from PetSmart Charities™ of Canada is helping the Welland and District SPCA provide affordable and accessible spay and neuter services to first nations communities in Ontario.

Pet overpopulation has been a growing concern in some First Nations communities across Canada. With limited access to veterinary care, pets in these areas are not always spayed or neutered, leading to unplanned litters and a growing population of strays. The problem is often amplified by urban dwellers abandoning unwanted kittens or puppies in rural areas outside of town. In some communities, there are so many dogs without a home that they begin to run in packs.

In 2013, John Greer, Executive Director, and his team at the Welland & District SPCA came to PetSmart Charities of Canada for help. A $350,000 grant helped the organization acquire and equip a mobile spay and neuter truck, as well as a recovery and support vehicle dedicated primarily to serving First Nations communities in Ontario. This September, we followed John Greer and his community mobile outreach team as they took their truck on the road for a two-week Northern Ontario adventure.

PetSmart Charities of Canada First Nations Dogs

September 14 & 15: En-route to Manitoulin Island, John and his team stopped at College Boreal in Sudbury, Ontario to speak to the first and second year students in the school’s renowned Veterinary Technician program. The students were invited to volunteer alongside the Welland SPCA team at their next stop, a subsidized spay and neuter stop at Wikwemikong Unceded Territory.

September 19: “When our vehicles were welcomed onto the Wikwemikong Unceded Territory, the first thing we did was invite the community into our trucks,” said Tammy Gaboury, Animal Care Manager, who travels with the mobile outreach team. “Children from the local schools were lined up for a peek inside our state-of-the-art mobile clinic and during their tour, the team taught them about the importance of spaying and neutering pets.”

PetSmart Charities of Canada First Nations Dogs truck in Wikwemikong

September 19 – 23: 105 pets from the Wikwemikong Unceded Territory were spayed or neutered at reduced rates and with financial support from Band Councils, and 186 pets were micro-chipped, vaccinated, de-wormed, and treated for fleas. Spay and neuter surgeries were provided to pet parents at a reduced rate. Band Councils will often provide financial support to help their residents to spay and neuter their pets and manage the communities’ pet-population.

PetSmartCharities Canada Cats & Dogs icon

105
pets were Spayed/Neutered over five days in Wikwemikong Unceded Territory

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186
pets received vaccinations, micro-chipping and veterinary care.

“The mobile unit has been in operation for just under two years,” reports Greer. “In each year we have managed to visit more than 17 reserves across Ontario, often seeing hundreds of pets during each visit. By making spay/ neuter surgery and wellness visits more accessible and affordable, we’re helping to save the lives of pets, but also just as important making the communities safer as a whole for the Elders and children,”

There’s another side to this story, too. The Welland and District SPCA are also transporting homeless puppies and dogs from northern communities to southern Ontario, where chances for adoption are increased. During a Mega Dog Adoption at the St. Catharines and Sarnia PetSmart Stores on October 21 – 23, more than 125 of the transported dogs were adopted into new forever homes.

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