Dog rescue day in La Loche hopes to round up, find foster homes for up to 150 strays
'We're making a lot of progress as opposed to 3 years ago, when we didn't know what to do': community member
Hundreds of dog carriers were brought into Saskatchewan from Alberta this weekend to assist in a large-scale rescue.
Community members of the northern village of La Loche — just over 500 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon — and an Alberta rescue are working to round up 100 to 150 stray dogs Sunday and take them to foster homes.
"We just have a very large overpopulation of stray dogs and a lot of them are females that are not spayed," said Amanda Black, who fosters strays in La Loche and is a member of the community dog committee.
There are also packs of dogs following female dogs, she said.
"Sometimes we'll see like 20 dogs, 40 dogs following the one female."
That can create dangerous situations, because packs of dogs on occasion maul a female to death. It can get worse if dog owners try to step in.
"It's no point — the owners just end up getting hurt themselves," Black said.
She's organized the rescue day in partnership with the Saving Grace Animal Society from Alix, Alta. Erin Deems, the Alberta rescue society's founder, said a day like this is a large undertaking.
"It's definitely worth it at the end of the day to try and get the northern communities having their dog populations just in a more manageable level, to lower the risk within the community," Deems said.
There are risks to doing a large dog gathering like Sunday's, she said, although her experienced dog handling team is aware of them and hoping for the best.
Deems said it's important people know when the rescue is coming to a northern community, because they don't want to take anyone's pet by accident. The rescue and Black posted on social media and talked about the rescue day on local radio.
"We want to remove the unwanted strays and the surrendered animals from the community that people … don't have the ability to care for," Deems said.
The dogs that are rounded up will be sent to Saskatchewan and Alberta rescues. But that's a Band-Aid solution, Deems said, and the real work happens once Saving Grace leaves.
She said it's then up to the community to manage the population, and she thinks La Loche will do well.
Black said she's optimistic because of the new community dog committee, which is working on bylaws to help keep the dog population down, among other changes.
"We are looking into getting dogs registered so that if a dog does end up out of the yard or straying, we know basically where it's from," Black said.
"We're making a lot of progress as opposed to three years ago, when we didn't know what to do," she said. "It's been a long road to get this far."
With files from Chelsea Cross and Saskatoon Morning