One of the most critical and unspoken issues in animal welfare in BC is the lack of proper Animal Management Plans in rural First Nations communities. As a result, hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs are being shot in a desperate attempt to manage the huge number of unwanted or unowned dogs throughout these communities. The number of dogs continues to rise each year placing a significant burden on First Nations communities that have no access to veterinary care, animal rescue groups, or regular supplies of pet food. Existing animal rescue groups already struggle to keep up with the demand of every day rescue making it difficult, if not impossible, to support and provide long-term solutions for these communities. In addition to helping isolated First Nations gain control of the number of stray dogs roaming their communities, VHS-led projects in these communities will educate, empower and inspire community members to establish humane, evidence based, and self sustainable Animal Management Programs.
With an ever-expanding reputation for helping remote communities, VHS has become an organization trusted by more and more First Nations communities. This has resulted in VHS developing ties with a number of remote BC First Nations willing to allow VHS into their communities to help. This is exactly what happened with the Kwadacha First Nation in Fort Ware. A member of Kwadacha invited the VHS into their community to help them address the issue of animal overpopulation and work together with them to address their short term and long term issues.
VHS is currently working with three First Nations to provide the following services over a minimum period of three years to eradicate the issue of dog overpopulation:
- Wellness exams that will include basic inoculations and de-worming as well as other medical services that may be required
- Sterilization and micro chip implants for sterilized animals
- Workshops regarding animal welfare including the advantages of spaying and neutering new animals in the future
- Round up and removal of unwanted or un-owned dogs that will be transported to Victoria where they will be fostered and put up for adoption
This socially innovative project will influence systemic change by:
- Addressing the issue of unwanted companion animals by preventing the birth of unwanted litters.
- Serving as a model for communities of all sizes and geographic areas.
- Adopting a community directed approach to the issue rather than a hard policy approach that would likely be ineffective.
- Using outreach and education components to change ongoing behaviour towards companion animals while addressing systemic issues regarding animal overpopulation.
- Using a collaborative approach bringing together animal rescue agencies, First Nations and veterinarians.