Chain dogs or we'll kill them, say Natuashish officials

The fire department of Natuashish has told residents to restrain their dogs at all times, otherwise fire department members will be forced to kill them.

The fire chief in Natuashish has told residents to restrain their dogs at all times or the animals will be put down.

The order, issued on Tuesday and also signed by community elders, came one day after a nine-year-old boy was attacked by a dog roaming the community.

The boy suffered injuries to his face, and had to be airlifted out of the community.

The notice said all dogs kept as pets are to be chained and penned on property at least 15 feet from roads. Dogs aged three months or younger must be kept in pens.

Animals not penned must be kept on leashes at all times, except during hunting.

The order also stated that dogs found roaming will be seized and destroyed immediately.

Order 'cruel', says resident

"I think it's ridiculous. I think it's also cruel," said community resident Klaus Muller.

Muller has become the owner of six dogs since he moved to Natuashish three years ago.

"During the course of three years I've had to rescue several [dogs] and of course grown attached to them in the process," said Muller.

"I look after my dogs, they're spayed and neutered.  They're immunized. They're not aggressive dogs. They're well kept and well groomed. I care for my animals and they pose no risk. "

Muller said he would lock his six dogs inside his trailer, and take turns letting them go outside.

SPCA available for help

Bonnie Learning, the spokesperson for the SPCA in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, said the Natuashish ultimatium would "not be their first choice" in handling the community's animal control problems.

"We've always said in these more isolated northern communites where there is no veterinary services and there's large amounts of roaming animals, it's only a matter of time before this happens," said Learning.

"And it's certainly not the first time this situation has happened."

Learning said her branch of the SPCA would be willing to help Natuashish and other coastal Labrador communities deal with animal control issues, but she said to the best of her knowledge, no one from Natuashish has been in touch about the problem. 

Natuashish does not have a dog catcher, so it's up to local fire officials to deal with the problem.