Dog Management Project

Background and Communities Served

In many remote northern communities in Canada, the problem of free-roaming dogs poses a risk as they regularly come into contact with wildlife reservoir species in the region. The lack of veterinary services available means that any disease contracted by these dogs can be hard to control and easily spread to the general population.

In 2013, a dog carrying the Arctic fox strain of rabies was discovered in the community of Kashechewan, leading to the initiation of a humane and sustainable Dog Population Management (DPM) Project. The aim was to prevent the spread of this deadly virus to animals and people in the remote and isolated communities of the James and Hudson Bay Region which included:

Town of Moosonee

Moose Factory

Kashechewan

Peawanuck

Fort Albany

Attawapiskat

This project became one of the largest of its scale ever conducted in the world.

 

Purpose

The project was built around 5 main objectives:

  • Humanely stabilizing dog populations on and around First Nations communities to manageable and sustainable levels, and establishing mechanisms for tracking population numbers;
  • Reducing aggression in dogs and the risk of injury to community members;
  • Reducing the risk of rabies transmission and other transmissible diseases from owned and/or free-roaming dogs to community members;
  • Improving the health of community dogs; and
  • Educating community members about the importance of dog control and the impacts on public health for the whole community.

 

Service Provided

The project lasted a total of 2 years, with the service providers coming in for about 1 month each year. The process began with community members bringing dogs to a centrally located “clinic”, followed by “door-to-door” and “street-by-street” mobile approaches for the remainder of the dogs in the community. The team worked out of a vehicle to capture free-roaming dogs through the use of food.  Written permission and informed consent for the handling of each dog was obtained from nearby house occupants for owned dogs, and from the Chief and Council for unowned free-roaming dogs.

Each dog encountered was restrained safely and fed canned food containing a dewormer.  A local anaesthetic was used, followed by injection of a microchip to keep track of the dogs.  If the dog was female, a contraceptive implant was also injected, allowing the prevention of pregnancy for 12-18 months. Finally, rabies and parvovirus vaccines were given.  The entire procedure from start to finish, once the dog was caught, required no more than five minutes per dog.

 

Team

The project was the result of a partnership between the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA), Dogs with No Names (DWNN), the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (the Ministry), Health Canada, and the Porcupine Public Health Unit (PPHU), under the leadership of Dr. Catherine Filejski, the Ministry’s Public Health Veterinarian, and the field team leader Dr. Judith Samson-French.

 

Outcomes

A total of 925 dogs were handled, microchipped and vaccinated, creating microchip-based dog registries for each of the communities.

For each dog handled, a dog registry and medical record was created and linked to its microchip number, including information on breed type, gender, age, reproductive status of females, body condition score, approximate weight, any known history and vaccines/dewormers administered. Each community was also provided with a microchip reader, enabling them to scan, identify and determine the rabies vaccination status of all microchipped dogs whenever needed.

 

Contact Information

For more information contact the Quality Department Office at WAHA

705-658-4544, ext. 2332