SHAMATTAWA, Man. — An RCMP officer posted to a remote First Nations community in northern Manitoba wants help to deal with stray dogs that otherwise are culled regularly in large numbers.
“You go to the Northern Store for groceries and you’ve got three or four dogs outside just waiting around . . . you drive down the street and you see four or five dogs.
“They’re just everywhere,” said Const. Gennifer Furkalo who is based in Shamattawa, south of Hudson Bay,
“I would guess there’s hundreds. I spoke with another constable who’s been here for a long time . . . He’s seen more than 1,000 on the reserve.”
She says shooting dogs whenever the numbers get too high doesn’t seem right to a girl from the Manitoba farming town of Neepawa, although she doesn’t want to impose her values on others.
“I understand . . . it is a cultural thing. They’ve been doing that for a very long time.”
Stray dogs have been a big problem in northern communities right across the Prairies.
Earlier this year, a young boy died on the Canoe Lake Cree Nation in northern Saskatchewan after he was mauled to death by a pack of dogs while walking to a friend’s house.
Last fall, the village of Ile a la Crosse, about 30 minutes north of Canoe Lake, hired a man to shoot loose dogs after a six-year-old was badly bitten while playing outside.
The little boy had huge gashes across his face and was flown to a Saskatoon hospital where plastic surgeons used 60 stitches to close the wounds.
In 2006, a five-year-old boy was mauled to death by a pack of dogs running loose on the North Tallcree reserve in Northern Alberta.
The attack was so vicious it left the youngster almost unrecognizable. That same year in Manitoba, a two-year-old boy was mauled to death on the Hollow Water reserve and a three-year-old boy met the same fate on the Sayisi reserve.
While Furkalo understands the need to prevent packs of stray dogs from becoming a threat, in she wants to find a better way of dealing with the problem.
She is trying to organize temporary homes for younger animals until they can be shipped south to be adopted. She’s asking for help from anyone who has pet paraphernalia or supplies.
“I’m asking for any kind of donation, old kennels, toys . . . even if it’s just planting the bug in someone’s ear who may be looking for an animal.”
She has talked to the chief about a spay and neuter bylaw and her appeal has reached the ears of the Winnipeg Humane Society, which may go up to Shamattawa to run a spay and neuter clinic. The cost and some details need to be worked out.
“The community has to be on-board with it,” she said.
“You do have people up here that really care about the animals,” although dogs still seem to spend more time outside than inside, she noted.
“(Down south) there’s some sort of connection with the owner. Here there doesn’t seem much of that . . . Ideally it’s good to get these animals out while they’re still young.”
She’s only been in the community since September and has already spent about $2,000 of her own money caring for strays and flying them to new homes in Brandon or Winnipeg.
She is arranging drop points for donations and says anyone who wants to help can contact her at Gennifer_ Furkalo@hotmail.com