© Submitted photo
The Happy Valley-Goose Bay SPCA shelter is already filled with cats and puppies like these. So there’d be no room for 50 dogs. Luckily, Litters and Critters have teamed up with the SPCA to help out with their Natuashish operation.
The Happy Valley-Goose Bay SPCA will be going to Natuashish, soon, in order to help decrease the stray population, by rounding up 50 dogs (out of an estimated 300) and sending them to Halifax. The operation is expected to take place in later March or early April.
“What our ideal plan is, what we’re hoping to do, is when we do get our dates set to go to Natuashish… a few of us will go in a day before, with all the Kennels, and stay over night, and then round up the animals the next morning,” says HVGB SPCA Public Relations Director Bonnie Learning.
Chief Simeon Tshakapesh contacted the SPCA for help after he reversed a decision by the Natuashish Fire Department to shoot the stray dogs. The fire department’s decision came after a stray dog in the community bit a child.
“It’s been a big problem for a long time, the population of the dogs,” says Tshakapesh.
People across Newfoundland and Labrador, quickly, caught wind of the plan to kill the dogs. An online petition was started and the story made its rounds on Facebook. Tshakapesh says that, after talking to some elders in the community, he decided shooting the animals wasn’t a wise choice.
“There’s some people concerned about shooting dogs and the elders said just take out that ones that have bitten…and the rest of them to deal with the SPCA,” says Tshakapesh.
The SPCA has teamed up with Litters and Critters, an animal rescue shelter based in Halifax, in order to house the stray dogs. Once the animals are flown to Halifax, Litters and Critters will have vet care waiting to do the necessary procedures, such as spaying and neutering the dogs, as well as giving them their shots.
For the Happy Valley-Goose Bay SPCA, this will be the first time attempting such an operation. The plan is to try and lure the dogs with food, and to try and get more females than males. There will be volunteers from Natuashish to help out the SPCA in rounding up the dogs, but Learning knows it won’t be an easy task.
“We’ve never gotten into this situation before where to do this kind of operation. So it’s going to be all very new to us,” says Learning.
“We’re hoping to get more females out of there than males, but we can’t pick and choose which ones come to us.”
Luckily the SPCA and Litters and Critters have received donations to help out. Provincial Airlines and Innu Mikun have each donated a plane. Provincial Airlines also gave the SPCA an additional charter plane at a huge discount. Litters and Critters, meanwhile, has lined up a trucking company that will be shipping the dog kennels into Labrador, which the dogs will be placed in for transport.
On top of the corporate donations, the SPCA has also raised nearly $4000 in cash for the expenses, through private donations.
Once this operation is completed, the SPCA still has work to do with Natuashish. After the 50 animals are removed, there will still be more than 200 left. Learning says that they will be working with the community to set up some long term plans to control the stray population.
“This is our first time really getting involved directly with a band council or a municipality…so we’re really looking forward to establishing that relationship,” says Learning.
“Maybe we can come up with some solutions or make contact with different vet clinics around the province, or around the country for that matter, and maybe get some traveling vets come through once or twice a year to do low cost Spay and Neuter programs.”