There are many remote communities in Canada’s north that have little or no access to veterinary care. That means that animals – particularly dogs—are often unvaccinated and vulnerable to outbreaks of rabies, parvo virus, and distemper. In some communities, population control is an issue. Packs can form if there are too many dogs, posing a risk to humans – particularly children. Dog owners would like to spay or neuter some of their animals, but without a vet that is not possible.
Building on Experience
For nearly 10 years VWB/VSF has supported the University of Calgary and the Université de Montréal to provide animal care in two remote regions of the north. Both efforts have been partnerships with the communities involved, engaging animal owners and youth volunteers in assisting volunteer veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and veterinary students. Since 2007 the University of Calgary has worked in five remote communities in the Sahtu region of the Northwest Territories where they have vaccinated dogs and cats, treated injuries and illnesses, and offered spaying and neutering. The results have been impressive. More than 95 per cent of the dogs in one community have been vaccinated and in the other communities more than 70 per cent have been vaccinated. Dog owners are better able to control the population, and the lifespan of dogs has increased considerably. TheUniversité de Montréal has registered similar success in Kuujjuack in Northern Quebec.
VWB/VSF is working to expand on this success by developing a program that would offer veterinary services to many more northern communities. The first stages of that process will involve research, community consultation, and resource acquisition.