In many ways the dogs of Northern Canada have to be the most resilient breed; they survive on what most rescues consider “the will to live and little else.” On their own they forage for food, sustain their canine communities, and live in extreme weather conditions. Without the availability of spay and neuter programs these dogs have reached unmanageable numbers, leaving them susceptible to dog shoots in order to reduce populations. Without vaccinations, diseases such as parvo, rabies, and distemper can run rampant among dog packs. Veterinary care is a luxury not a standard in Northern Canadian regions. Many dogs are left to suffer from illness, gun shot wounds, and infection, leaving rescues feeling abandoned and helpless to offer assistance to the many as they only have enough resources to save the few.
Norway House (Manitoba), Manitoba German Shepherd Rescue, Iqaluit Humane Society (Nunavut), and Happy Valley Goose Bay SPCA (Labrador) are just a few rescues in the Northern regions of Canada dealing with overwhelming daily abuse, neglect, surrender, stray overpopulation, and disease in Northern dog populations. Without Government funding nearly all animal rescues rely on donations, fundraising, and volunteers to care for the dogs who come into rescue.
Any given week there are upwards of thirty plus dogs and puppies in the care of an animal rescue in Canada dealing with Northern dog overpopulation. All animals require veterinary care, food, possible surgery for injury; all a huge expense. There are varying degrees of care required on an individual basis; some require very little vetting while others need extensive treatment. Most Northern communities have a working relationship with animal rescues who can assist with extraction, transport, fostering, and medical care of animals who are sick or injured. These rescues are not instantaneous; they require planning, time, resources, and most importantly, volunteers. Animal rescue is not a paid position; it is done out of concern and love for those who, through no fault of their own, simply exist.
Beyond the concerns for the health and welfare of rescue animals lies the overwhelming stress on those involved in animal rescue. Often, due to financial strain, volunteers become mentally and emotionally drained while trying to provide even the most basic medical care to the dogs that need assistance. Transportation, dog food, cleaning supplies, fosters, volunteers, medical supplies, and treatment are only a few of the aspects that rescues source on a daily basis. Literally begging for public assistance, all too often veterinary care is paid for by rescuers and by those within their rescue community. The population of Labrador is equivalent to that of Bedford, Nova Scotia, and herein lies the dilemma. How do you draw resources from a sparse population? Without working with rescues in Southern regions of Canada for fundraising, veterinary care, and outsourced adoptions, the dogs of the North would be at a far greater disadvantage then they already are.
The welfare of dogs in the Territories of Canada is an issue few truly know of, although, due to social media, rescues in the North are now receiving much needed attention. The major issues facing Northern rescues are serious ones for the dogs; dog shoots have become the norm even though they are not accepted as humane. Overpopulation can lead to a pack mentality in dog communities, children can become unsuspecting victims of a random mauling, and panic for quick resolution takes form in a bullet. Rabies, distemper, and parvo can be controlled through vaccination. However, most Northern Canadian communities have limited access to veterinary resources nor can they afford it. The dogs outweigh the human populations in remote regions and the citizens (most, not all) try to feed and care for the strays within these communities as best they can.
To some, “A dog is JUST a dog,” but to many they are living, breathing creatures entitled to the love, commitment, protection, and justice we would expect for ourselves as citizens not just here in Canada but in any country. How we choose to protect and care for those who can not speak or do for themselves carries a great impact on us as people. Lobbying for updated Animal Protection and Welfare legislation is an exhausting, tedious commitment but essential when working toward positive change. Sharing the knowledge and resources we have with others promotes awareness as to the rights and commitment animals deserve. Education is critical to aid in animal wellness; promote spay and neuter programs in your area, and offer your knowledge on what it means to be a responsible pet owner.
Through social media the un-heard, un-seen, un-named, and un-wanted are now being offered a voice through the hope and humanity of countless animal rescues and citizens throughout Canada. There are many ways in which you can make a difference. Contact any one of the animal rescues in your region to see how you can help. No gesture is too small!
About the Author
To those in social media who don’t know me I’m referred to as LA, to those who do I am simply Lou. I have been involved in Animal Rescue for the past three years, utilizing social media to raise awareness for rescues across Canada. My main focus is on Northern Canadian Animal Rescue, in particular, the Happy Valley Goose Bay SPCA. Through their efforts to save stray, abandoned, neglected and abused northern dogs I have adopted three gorgeous pups from Labrador. It is through the love I have for my dogs that inspires me to pursue awareness for all Northern Dogs, that they may know the love and care mine have found.
Raising awareness for rescue and adoption through the 2013 Twitter Adopted Rescue Star Campaign two hundred and nineteen adopted animals, their adoptive family’s and the animal rescues that have saved them have been featured thus far on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram. I feature Adoptable Twitter Stars for animal rescues in Atlantic Canada and also write my own blog on Blogger (Here, There & Everywhere in Canadian Animal Rescue) as well as a LiveJournal dedicated to Animal Rescue at bowden2you.livejournal.com.
To date my greatest accomplishment has been initiating the FedEx Express Canada Northern Dog Rescues from Labrador to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Two flights over the past two years with over 120 Northern Dogs transported and adopted into loving homes. It’s a very surreal moment when the plane lands at the FedEx Terminal and you see so many precious faces through cage doors. Having even the smallest part in these rescues has meant everything to me.