Dogs in Natuashish are being shot and killed this week if they are found roaming the town. In a memo from the local fire department, dated March 5th, the community is being told to keep their dogs on a leash – all others will be destroyed immediately. An estimated 300 stray dogs live in the small northern Labrador town. The order came one day after a dog attacked a child in the community. The letter, signed by the fire chief, Innu band council and two elders, says dogs must be chained and penned and kept at least fifteen feet from roads. Animals not penned must be leashed at all times except when hunting. Only three dogs are now permitted per household, and any dog found at large will be destroyed.
A reported twelve dogs that call the dump home have already been killed. Officials, who are giving residents until Monday, are calling the dog problem very serious.
Klaus Muller is a mental health clinical therapist who has been living in Natuashish for three years. In that time he has adopted six dogs, and feeds about three more regularly. Under the town order, Muller is being told to give up three of his animals. But he says that's not an option – Muller plans to keep his dogs inside.
He says the order is like saying to a parent who has six kids, you can keep three, and we'll kill the other three.
Muller says it is the friendly dogs that will suffer. He says it's his understanding that the dogs will be collected in a pick-up truck full of cages, then taken to the dump to be destroyed.
He says it's gruesome. Muller says it's one thing to euthanize an animal but completely another thing to use a gun when often one bullet won't do the trick and the dog is left quivering on the ground.
Muller says such action should have been voted on by the community
He says the non-Mushuau residents care for their animals; they are spayed or neutered. Muller says it is not the the non-Mushuau residents who are being irresponsible with their animals, it is the actual population that is.
The SPCA in Happy Valley-Goose Bay says the cull is an extreme tactic that the shelter does not support. Spokesperson Bonnie Learning says she wishes there was another way. Rescue organizations like the SPCA, Heavenly Creatures, and Litters n' Critters in Halifax make trips to rescue dogs along on the North Coast throughout the year. Learning says the shelter is offerring to help the community deal with the over-population in any way it can.
Now or down the road she says if the Council wants help implementing an animal control strategy or help get the animals spayed or neutered, the SPCA is available and willing to chat.
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