Saskatoon

Scheduled dog cull in La Loche cancelled after public outcry

A day after announcing plans of a "dog control initiative" next week, the Northern Village of La Loche called it off.

Northern village had announced plans on social media to cull stray dogs next Tuesday

The Northern Village of La Loche had announced plans for a "dog control initiative" on Tuesday, July 23 before announcing its cancellation. (Northern Village of La Loche/Facebook)

Following an outcry on social media, the Northern Village of La Loche says it has cancelled a planned cull of stray dogs in the community scheduled for next week.

In a notice posted on Facebook on Wednesday, the village had announced it was going to be implementing a "dog control initiative" on Tuesday, July 23.

It said any "free roaming dogs" would be "destroyed."

Additionally, the notice said if a person's dog was picked up accidentally, owners had the option of "buying back" their dog, within a two-hour timeframe, for $40.

That stipulation prompted angry responses from some Facebook users, who noted the planned cull was scheduled to take place when the village office was closed and many community members would be away at the annual Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage in northern Alberta.

The village's Facebook post drew over 200 responses as of Thursday afternoon, most of which were not in favour of the village's plan.

Early Thursday afternoon, the village subsequently announced on Facebook that it was cancelling the planned action after "hearing concerns and some other possible solutions."

In a statement posted to the social media platform, Mayor Robert St. Pierre said the village didn't like the plan either but felt conflicted about the safety of its citizens.

"We do not want someone injured or even killed by dogs (this has happened in other northern communities)," the statement said.

The statement said La Loche has a "very high number of dog bites annually."

"So many in fact, that the Health Authorities have raised it as a concern of theirs as our numbers stand out provincially."

In a subsequent interview with CBC News, St. Pierre said there was a young woman in La Loche who had been "attacked pretty badly" in her leg in the last week, adding the attack was among some "very serious" dog-related incidents recently.

St. Pierre said it was a "no-win situation."

"The council really didn't want to go to that next level but we're kind of pressured about safety of community."

He said council wanted to do something before something worse happened.

"And if ever these dogs decided to go that extra mile and end up killing a young person, then we haven't done our job, right?" he said.

"Thankfully, death hasn't occurred yet in the community and that's what we're really afraid of."

St. Pierre said the village had limited resources and couldn't afford animal control officers or a pound.

He said the village had received an offer from someone outside the community to destroy the dogs, but St. Pierre said he didn't know how that was going to be carried out.

St. Pierre said they would not have to discuss dog control if pet owners would either leash their dogs or keep them in fenced yards.

He said the village council is giving the matter further consideration. In the meantime, he said the village was going to accept offers of help from outside rescue organizations who have offered to place strays in new homes.

About the Author

Kelly Provost is a newsreader and reporter with CBC News in Saskatoon. Email him at kelly.provost@cbc.ca.

now