The Current

After mauling death, dog cull may be only solution argues veterinarian

A community in northern Manitoba is offering a bounty of $25 for wild dogs after a young mother was mauled to death.

Stray dogs kill woman on Manitoba First Nation

5 years ago
Manitoba RCMP have confirmed that a young woman whose body was found surrounded by dozens of dogs died from an animal attack. Donnelly Rose Eaglestick, 24, of Little Grand Rapids First Nation, was found dead Saturday morning at a construction site for the community's new water treatment plant. 1:27

Read story transcript

Donnelly Rose Eaglestick, 24, died May 13, mauled to death by a pack of dogs while on her way home. 

Eaglestick's five-year-old daughter is now an orphan. The girl's father died previously of exposure.

The death has left Little Grand Rapids First Nation, a fly-in community in northern Manitoba, in shock.

Kewatinook MLA Judy Klassen recently visited the mourning residents.

"It's so traumatic. It's really hard to take," Klassen tells The Current's guest host Duncan McCue.

"The residents had already been living under that fear [of roaming dogs]."

In an effort to solve the problem, the community has launched a cull, offering $25 a head to get rid of the stray or wild dogs.
Children in Little Grand Rapids carry sticks in case stray dogs living in the community become violent, says MLA Judy Klassen. (Submitted by Judy Klassen)

"We all love our animals, they're treasured family members," says Klassen. "[But] for the troublesome dogs, they know what they want. They want those dogs put down."

For those who have criticized the cull as inhumane, Klassen offers this response.

"I believe when a community is teaching their children to walk around with sticks [as protection], that's not humane for children," says Klassen.

The problem of stray and wild dogs is common in remote First Nations.

Ewa Demianowicz with Humane Society International Canada travels to remote communities to spay and neuter dogs, sterilizing 100 to 150 on each visit.

She doesn't believe Little Grand Rapids First Nation's plan will resolve the problem dog issue.

"It's understandable. It looks like a short-term Band-Aid solution that's going to be quick and efficient," Demianowicz tells McCue. 

"But unfortunately dog culls will not solve the problem that is at stake here." 
Donnelly Eaglestick, 24, was found dead in Little Grand Rapids First Nation, surrounded by roughly 30 stray dogs, May 13. (Submitted)

She argues that the issue is overpopulation of dogs — and when some dogs are removed, others compensate by having bigger litters.

But veterinarian Richard Herbert, who also works with First Nations on getting the dog problem under control, says the issue is more complex than many people realize.

He says problems with wild dogs that have turned feral are completely different from those with stray dogs, or simply dogs who aren't being kept fenced in.

And sterilizing wild dogs is a difficult proposition.

"If you can't catch them, you can't spay them," Herbert says.

It's the wild dog packs that pose the gravest danger.

"You absolutely don't want to be in the woods by yourself without protection when they come through," Herbert tells McCue.

After a death like the one in Little Grand Rapids First Nation, a cull may be the only solution, he argues, even if it's not anyone's first choice.

"Now that they know what to chase, which is people, now that they know what to eat, which is people, the wild dogs are going to continue to hunt," says Herbert.

Listen to the full segment at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Willow Smith, Sujata Berry and Samira Mohyeddin.