An online petition calling for a bylaw officer in Fort Providence has now collected over 50 signatures, leading to a response from the mayor and a call for a public meeting from the petition's founder.
Linda Croft's petition began circulating online earlier this week, asking for a bylaw officer to help deal with loose dogs. She says it took about ten years of seeing the problem out her window before they took action.
"The two little puppies, one was at my daughter's doorstep, one was at my doorstep, nobody came looking for them, nobody even knew they were missing," she says. "They were cold, they were hungry, their paws had ice frozen to them. That was it, that was the last straw.
"I know I'm not alone in these feelings, because people carry sticks here for the larger dogs. I know that there's other people, especially now with the petition, that realize that pets should be loved... and not chained to a three-foot lead and left without food or shelter.
"I just want better for the dogs."
'We don't have the funds'
The mayor of Fort Providence, Tina Gargan, acknowledges that the hamlet has a dog problem, but simply can't afford a bylaw officer at this time.
"We're trying," says Gargan. "For the past six, seven years, we've offered the spay/neuter program, and we've covered the cost of that.
"We would all love to have a bylaw officer, trust me. But it's just not doable. We don't have the funds to hire or create such a position."
Gargan says the hamlet spends $19,000 annually on their spay/neuter program, and transports dogs to the SPCA in Yellowknife.
"I'm not denying that we have a problem," she says. "It is a problem out there. And if we pool all our resources and try to educate people on pet ownership: please be responsible with our pets. They should be a part of our family and we should treat them as such."
Public meeting at 100 signatures
Fifty-five people have signed Croft's petition so far, which has doubled as a forum for community members to weigh in on the issue. She says that once she gets to 100 names, she'll hold a public meeting, and hopes hamlet officials will be there.
"Up until now, people have been voicing their disdain and disgust over the situation, but no one's really taken it forward."
Croft says that a bylaw officer could provide education to the community on responsible dog ownership, as well as enforce fines against irresponsible owners. She's not deterred by hamlet saying there's no money for the position.
"There's all kinds of ways to make it happen," she says. People raise money for things all the time. "