Friday, December 22, 2006

Animal education and tougher animal cruelty laws needed

"Dog shooting days" are a common occurrence on many Canadian First Nation Reserves.

It is a blood sport, because shooting dogs obviously does not control their populations, or shooting them would not have to be repeated year after year. First Nations people on some Reserves who shoot the dogs receive a bounty -money- for each dog tail brought in- thus, it becomes a game. One possible alternative to shooting could be that Bands use the money paid to the 'shooters' to educate the children and spay, neuter and vaccinate these dogs.

Many First Nations choose to spend their money elsewhere, rather than spay, neuter, vaccinate or educate their people about basic dog care. Yet, they continue to acquire dogs. Dogs and puppies freeze to death, or starve-- the ones who are not shot first. Many dogs are chained for their entire lives, and left outside in subzero weather. Another beautiful four month old pup (see link below photo of puppy w/brace or Big Heart Rescue link) was left on the side of the road on the Reserve after being hit by a car. She, sadly, did not make it through her ordeal, even after extensive veterinary care paid for by volunteers outside of the Reserve. This is all too common. Many rescue organizations are full of dogs from Reserves. Many of these dogs have multiple injuries: sticks poked in their eyes, limbs amputated, legs broken, and general abuse and neglect.

ALL animals, especially humankind's 'best friend', have the right to without fear and abuse. Humans domesticated the dog thousands of years ago. Dogs are dependent upon humans for care. They return that care with loyalty rarely found in human beings. Dogs risk their lives for humans from natural catastrophes such as avalanches and fires. They help blind people 'see', and wheelchair-bound people to live nearly normal lives. They enrich our lives in so many ways. Many First Nations used to depend upon dogs. Now the dogs have been replaced by ATV's skidoos, pickup trucks and shotguns.

One of the common problems seems to be that puppies are brought onto Reserves, but once they lose the 'cute' puppy look, they are kicked out to fend for themselves. They join with packs of other starving dogs. Some children on Reserves throw rocks at these dogs, or kick them. Is it any wonder that these dogs then turn on them? Violence begets violence, and so the cycle continues. Unwanted puppies are born every year because some First Nations people do not believe in spaying or neutering for 'spiritual' reasons.

I would like to ask First Nations if shooting these defenceless dogs is more 'spiritual' than spaying and neutering them?

The links provided on this page are all excellent resources for information on how to control the strays without shooting them. Many of these links provide resources for schools to use to teach children how to avoid being bitten, and basic animal care and ethics.

Are you aware that Canada has not updated its Animal Cruelty Laws since 1892?! These laws were enacted in the horse and buggy days and are obviously out-of-date and inadequate. Are you also aware that in spite of the fact that over 85% of Canadians WANT tougher laws for animals, the Senate has defeated Bills for the last four years aimed at tougher Animal Cruelty laws? This bill has been approved in the House of Commons by Members of Parliment- elected by the public. One of the amendments the Senate continued to demand would give special treatment to Aboriginals, virtually exempting them from the Criminal Code. This is inappropriate and unnecessary since Aboriginals already have specific protection in the Constitution which allows them to continue their cultural and traditional practices. These 'practices' do not include the 'dog shooting days', however.

Even the Assembly of First Nations acknowledges that Aboriginals are already protected. In a letter to the Senate, AFN National Chief, Phil Fontaine, says, "To this point, we certainly AGREE that Aboriginal harvesting falls within the category of legitimate activity and is therefore protected by this proposed legislation". When the largest Aboriginal group in Canada realizes that the Senate's amendment is unnecessary, why, then, does the Senate continue to stand in the way of the Bill?

Tougher animal cruelty laws would definitely make people think before harming an innocent animal. Currently, a maximum of six months in jail (usually waived) and a few hundred dollars is the only punishment for horrible abuse crimes against animals. Exempting First Nations from jail or fines for animal abuse is just wrong. The crimes remain unreported, and Reserves are off limits to non-natives. This is perpetrating cruelty to animals, which definitely transfers to humans. Everyone should be accountable for animal abuse.

It is imperative to email Bloc MP's and Liberal MP's and urge them to support Bill C-373. The Bloc has said it will support both S-213 AND C-373. The Liberal caucus is split on the issue. It is important to know that S-213 does NOTHING substantial to reform the existing criminal codes that govern animal cruelty offences. Bill C-373 will NOT adversely affect farmers, rachers, medical scientists, furriers, hunters, and others who use animals for their livelihood and thus there is NO need to fear Bill C-373.

In addition to urging the Bloc and Liberal caucus MP's to support Bill C-373, I urge you to write to the contacts in the 'links' section on this page. Tell them you want tougher Animal Cruelty laws. Let them know what is happening on many Reserves throughout Canada. Let them know, as well, that animal education should be mandated on Reserves to stop the 'shooting days' as well as to stop the mauling of children. There is a very real connection between abuse of people and abuse of animals. The Humane Society of the United States "First Strike" program acknowledges this connection. Violence on every level must be stopped on many Reserves. With education easily available, there is absolutely NO excuse for inhumane treatment of animals!

Tougher animal cruelty laws-for EVERYONE, educate, vaccinate, spay and neuter - that is our goal. I hope you add your voice to this endeavor and speak for those who cannot speak; the animals. Get involved now! These sweet puppies and dogs can't wait any longer.

The Chronicle Journal, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, posted this letter April 20, 2007:
I though you might be interested to see an article that appeared in The Chronicle Journal, a newspaper serving Thunder Bay, Ontario.

There have been several responses (via letters to the editor):

Death is merciful for the thousands and thousands of northern dogs born each year across Canada . Life is starvation; lonely and cruel with dog on dog aggression and on too many occasions, human abuse. Death is merciful for these dogs. Dog shoots, the only method currently available to many small towns and northern reserves. But what the hell, through out history culling has been "acceptable" to control animal populations has it not? Elephants, bears?? ….. i'm no expert, but doesn't the list go on? So what about hanging? Is this ok too? What about drowning, does this work for you? What about slowly starving to death? Then no ones hands get dirty.

Ignorance is bliss. Ask Grand Chief Stan Beardy. Ask governmental policy makers. Ask Lt. Governor James Bartleman, who refuses to respond to my requests to at least acknowledge and possibly endorse the need to address this problem on a national level. On the other hand, let's ask the front line teachers and nurses that work in many of these remote locations and are traumatized by witnessing the starvation and abuse. Lets ask the locals what they feel. Heaven forbid, lets ask people like me that rescue these animals. How about this. I had to have a six week old pup that was rescued from up north put down the day after it was flown out. Its legs were crippled and deformed and it was disembowelled. Yes, you heard right. Its bowels were hanging out. Abuse? Inbreeding? Who knows. Oh, it smiled and licked me on the way to the vet. Wait, I have a another story to share. It's about a starving dog that traumatized a young northern girl as she watched it run into her home, grab her kitten and swallow it in one bite. Oops, maybe I should not have told that one. Lance Ribbonlet of the North Tallcree reserve in northern Alberta, dead at 5 years of age by dog attack.... Let me take this opportunity to say thanks to the Chronicle Journal for proudly displaying that article on the front page entitled "Humane Society takes in dogs threatened by cull"….to bad the writer, Chen Chekki forgot to print the rest of the story. I know I gave it to him. As it stood, it lacked depth. It just stirred the pot. How about this. Health Canada, First Nations and Inuit Health Division, memorandum dated December 1, 2006, states any nurse caught feeding or housing or rescuing dogs on northern Ontario reserves will be immediately dismissed. In northern communities where there have been military evacuations b/c of flooding or mold, army planes going in empty, refusing to take dog food up, leaving the communities animals to starve, not even acknowledging the existence of the problem. Check this out, its excerpts of an email from a teacher on a remote reserve "All our dogs are gone. They have killed 12 dogs; they went dog hunting yesterday. Cherry was one of them and only 1 ½ years old….she was the one we were trying to get out…she loved everyone and would have made a wonderful pet. She would come to my classroom window, put her paws up and look in as if to say "I'm here, where is my food"…. don't send up another cage right now…. we need to heal. I keep hoping it's a nightmare and I will wake up and see them all again….". Lack of access and skyrocketing costs plague many northern communities across Canada. I know that in the grand scheme of things animal welfare is low on the totem pole. People first. But we can not spend the next century pretending that this problem does not exist. The suffering of Canada 's dogs and cats and the potential dangers that they pose on various levels of a community, particularly our youth, necessitate a coordinated action that can only improve the overall mental and physical health of community members. Study after study has shown the psychological affects of exposure to neglect/abuse and animal suffering as perpetuating the cycle of despair, hopelessness and violence which thrives in environments of social stress and isolation. With the high suicide rates of Youth on reserves, this is yet one more emotional contributing factor that is within our power to address. We need a government strategy that can establish priorities and targets with community based groups, a strategy that will be sustainable over time. Mahatma Gandhi, "I hold that, the more helpless a creature is, the more it is entitle to protection by man from the cruelty of man" (thanks Hugh MacDonald)….whether cruelty is intentional or a by product of neglect and ignorance. Or just plain political. On the upside, the World Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is organizing the first ever 2007 Northern Dog Conference in the Fall, as a starting point for finding solutions. Lets see if any of the various levels of government that are going to be invited attend. I personally will make sure Stan Beardy gets an invitation. Also, as the northern dog lady, I have rescued/relocated over 400 dogs in the past four years. My goal has been to facilitate access to spay/neuter programs on northern Ontario resources. A daunting task let me tell you. I do it in my spare time. I have a real job. Anyways, fantastic news, the Canadian Animal Assistance Team , is a registered charity animal welfare organization out of Vancouver, comprised of Vet professionals across Canada dedicated to the care of needy animals world wide. They heard about my rescue work and contacted me as they would like to start up an Ontario branch, and work together on offering their first remote spay/neuter/immunization program on a fly in reserve. Nibinamik (Summer Beaver) is thrilled to be the involved in this project. We will draw on the experience of those who spearheaded a similar project in Cat Lake a couple of years ago. I hope that a foundation can be laid for future initiatives on other reserves, eventually with governmental funding. On a final note, Thunder Bay does not even have affordable spay and neturing programs. I would like to challange local vets and organizations like the Keri Chase Foundation to look into cleaning up our own backyard.

Karen Bester

Northern Dog Lady

Flashing before my eyes is a dog snarling at the end of a too short chain with no dry spot to stand. His home, rusted car metal laying around him. Another picture of a young adult his head resting on the desk. Hung over, tired, dirty with no place to call his own because there are only two bedrooms and 10 or more people. Young aduts setting up home in a bedroom with a baby at 16. Dogs yelping in pain as they are shot. My deep love and dedication to my students. To the deep sadness that will never leave me. Another picture of a young student smiling at me in hope. Dead a week later of suicide. Teachers working themselves past all hours working with the kids. Children having children. Seventy percent of the people here under thirty. How the dogs can't decide what they want more food or a pat. The gentleness of most of the dogs and the kids. The love I feel for both. Outhouses behind every door. Graves sprinkled around the houses by the lake in the yards by the back door. The garbage, the poverty, the despair. The low literacy level - teaching kids in grade 9 who only have a grade 3 literacy level. The exhaustion I feel every day trying to get through apathy and low motivation. Then there is the laughter of the kids and their gentleness. The corruption on the reserve. The incredibly high alcohol and sniffing population. The emblezlement of funds. The hiring and firing depending on political affliations. Reserves don't work for anyone animal or human.

Teacher who can not be identified


Before you read it, ask yourself if you see any true compassion for these starving, freezing dogs? The poem acknowledges that these dogs are 'seen on the side of the road' (looking for food) 'and another car load of Indians gets their smile for the day'??? What on earth is there to smile about? 'Romantic life'? What is romantic about being shot, or slowly starving? Or freezing? The jokes in the poem about dogs mating is not funny at all. This delibrate blindness to why there are so many dogs on the Reserve is the problem. There is no 'connect the dots' to an awareness that these animals need neutering and spaying, as well as regular food! WHY are they running loose? They are not happy and free, they are very needy animals who have been turned out into the elements to fend for themselves. Why do they 'cower'? Because they have been abused and ignored. Simple. They are not 'shy'. I notice no mention of dog shooting here. Are they ashamed? Most of these dogs don't make it past their third birthday. The person who wrote this poem seems to think it's all humourous and the dogs are there to amuse them; maybe win prizes for the most pathetic dog they can find for their contest. Yes, I hope the Creator is there when these people get to their final destination. It'll sure be interesting.

Ode To The Reserve Dog
by Obidiah

The reserve dog is a special breed who lives to roam the plain,
No fence or yard holds him in, the big sky is his domain.
Perchance a kindly hand to feed him or stroke his grizzled hide,
Is all he asks of fate, the rest he'll take in stride.

All manner of adventures beckon to he with imagination,
Some days it's hard to reckon, where he is on the reservation.
Scrunching up on the side of the road he lies in wait for prey,
And another car load of Indians get their big smile of the day.

His romantic life is busy there's no thought to pedigree,
His german shepard head graces many a wiener dog's bod-ee!
His charms have made a visit to the poodle down the lane,
And so little puffy dogs appeared sporting his big mane.

Maybe it's his swagger, or the fact that he loves pickles,
Or the way he sits on the steps to lick his test...icles.
Could be just the scent of him after rolling in another stool,
He stinks to high heaven but in the rez dog world "that's cool".

Brownie, Blackie and Maggie, are the names most often used,
All the good names being taken by the cats who sit bemused.
At the sight on the road when the mutts greet each other,
Sniffing each other's arses, as if looking for a long lost brother.

The rez dog lives on the margins, and means no hurt or hate,
She's happy to fill her belly and eat off her master's plate,
Her love for life is real and she's loyal beyond question,
She asks for nothing back, but maybe this one concession ...

Next time you see a mutt of mine tracking down the way,
Or cowering neath the doorstep, too shy to come out to play,
Remember he too is a traveler on life's uncertain ride,
Be kind and you may meet his Creator on the other side.


Anonymous said...

Good info. I did not know this was happening on reserves in Canada. Very sad that there isn't more media coverage about it. Where are the cruelty laws here, why don't they apply.

Anonymous said...

Yes killing is cruel but no one will pay to spay or neuter.

I don't think some people should be allowed to have animals if they abuse them like this.

Aldian Prakoso said...

Hi Didos,

I'm shocked that there's such cruel sport.

Keep up your good work to spread this news to as many people as possible.

Prarie Girl said...

It hurts me to read about such things. I have a dog of my own - golden retriever named Molly - and I can't stand to think that dogs just like her are recieving such treatment - they don't deserve it. Thanks for posting a blog that rises awareness, it's good to know someone cares.

Anonymous said...

I Think what you are doing is just wonderful we have been fostering 2 female dog's from a reserve nears us and they each just had 6 puppies each. We plan on fostering more dog's from there but we have spend our own money on these specials girls for vet bills as one of them was hit in the head with a hammer the vet think before she came to us it has healed very well Here is a link to our website if any one is interested in taking a look

Dog said...

Animal cruelty laws are needed everywhere on earth. Thanks for the nice post. Keep up the good work!

Biby Cletus said...


I'm new here landed up searching blogs on resources on pets. cool blog you have here, keep it up. i'm also interested in dogs and do have a german shepherd named devil ( named after the phantom's dog - i was a huge phantom fan in my childhood ) any way its nice to be here. i'll be back some time later for more updates.

Warm Regards from India

you might find this series
on dogs
in our blog interesting. do leave comments there. see ya.


Kerala, India

Sheridan said...

Cool blog, thanks for doing it and taking an interest in these dogs on the canadian reservations. They sound as bad as dogs in developing countries. I'll be back to check this blog!


kaps said...

very good blog

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addiction treatment said...

this is a nice and informative blog. really cruel people can do anything

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Chirs said...

Cute dogs.

send flowers

Anonymous said...

Do you have any knowledge of what you are writing, there's no vets in those fly in reserves, do you know the cost of bringing a vet.Most places don't pay the shooters.
And they only shoot dogsas a last resort because they can't control the population or feed them.
There is no money....If you want to really help,raise money like I did,and sponsor a vet to do a clinic for a day or 2.
First nations people have enough discrimination as it is, help instead of condeming.
Feed and keep the kids safe, or feed and neuter the dogs,that is the question

Reserve Dog Liberation Association said...

"anonymous" commented on whether I had any knowledge of what I was writing? Does living on a res count as knowledge? On the particular res I was on, I arranged to have a vet team come to spay and neuter the dogs - FREE, which is the way most First Nations like it. No out-of-pocket expenses for them. Know what happened? The res trigger happy guys shot all of the dogs a few days before the vet team was to arrive. They are also paid for each dog tail they bring in- you are wrong there. Perhaps you need a reality burger to really see what is happening on many res's in Canada. If a res is remote, logic would beg the question: how do the dogs GET to the res? Walk hundreds of miles? No. As I SAID, I saw them brought onto the res, then dumped when no longer puppies and 'cute'. First Nations people incur discrimination for many reasons, not just their treatment of dogs. We all know what FN problems are. It is up to them to take responsibility! Just as non-natives do for their pets. It is sad that FN cannot multitask and keep the kids safe as well as feeding and neutering the dogs they are responsible for bringing onto their res. Get a clue. Paying for neutering for FN dogs all the time is called enabling. When do they step up to the plate and do the responsible thing? I know one thing, Res's have money - it's how they choose to misuse it, and belive me, they do. Please feel free to post again when you have some actual experience living on a res so you can make an informed, intelligent comment.

Anonymous said...

Hello I do understand that dogs on reserve are being treated cruelly. I would also like that to be some acknowledgement that a lot of the unwanted dogs that run wild on reserves are "left" there by their owners. So many First Nations reserves have to now look after dogs that non-community members have dumped on their reserves. I think a great way of helping out reserves and their issue with dog management, would be to send them information on dog policies, by-law's, a list of veterinarian offices/non-profit organizations that will spay and neuter dogs and other animals for a low cost (everyone you must remember that not everyone, and especially First Nations are not able to afford vet costs). I know that many people believe that first nations reserves and communities have tons of money to spend, well they don't. The money they receive barely covers the basic human rights that every first nations person deserves. So unfortunately the animals have been forgotten. Thank you for your concern, and I hope that you will continue to find effective means of helping First Nations find a solution, rather than harping on the issue without action.
- First Nations community member (and no I do not have a reserve dog).

Reserve Dog Liberation Association said...

I'm glad you understand that dogs on reserves are being treated cruelly. You say they are left by their 'owners'. These 'owners' would be First Nations people, not the nurses, teachers and non-First Nations who are working on a Reserve. The non-First Nations people actually are responsible for taking these unwanted dogs and feeding them and providing vet care, and finding homes for them, often at great expense. I saw this happen time & again and I know it's not just limited to the Reserve I lived on. The 'owners' get tired of having a dog who is no longer a cute little puppy so they abandon the dog. If you looked on my links page you would see that I provide information about spay/neuter, etc. I cannot provide by-laws because as you should know, each Reserve has its own by-laws which are usually NOT enforced. I cannot force the Chief to create humane dog laws. I have suggested ideas but they go no where. Ditto with dog policies. I cannot make a 'dog policy' that a Reserve will accept. It has to come from them. I cannot agree with you about Reserves not having money. They chose to spend it elsewhere as dogs are not a priority. Did you not read my blog.....? I had a vet lined up to go to a Reserve to spay the dogs. Want to know what happened? The person on the Reserve whom I was coordinating the FREE spay and neuter called to say they had shot all the dogs - no need to send the vet! What kind of crazy thinking is this? If people cannot afford to take care of their dogs/cats, then they should not have them. There is no such thing as a free dog or cat. No one LIKES to pay for spay or neuter but it is the responsibility of the owner to do so. A FN community needs to put animals and children first - many children are mauled unnecessarily by abused dogs. There is much alcohol and drugs consumed on the average Res. Where does that money come from? Like I said - priorities. I am not harping on any issue without action. Who made this blog? You? I did it because I CARE. What about YOU? Read the links section and find a solution for your Reserve. You cannot expect the non-First Nations to solve all of your problems. Respect what the Creator has made.

Anonymous said...

I live near a reserve in northern manitoba. My husband is aboriginal. I drive in the res and see all of these dogs suffering. It makes me sooooooo mad. I'm a dog groomer and of course I love dogs and anyother animal for that matter. They don't deserve a life of hunger and pain left for dead. Me and some of the peoples on the reserve are ready to make the change. I have been researching some of the local vets and organizations for help. People have no idea that this is going on. or they just turn a blind eye. this just makes me sad. If you have any ideas please e-mail me @
Thank you for this site.

Joan Sinden said...

Hi there - what a super blog! I'm glad I found it. I have a former reserve dog from Cape Breton Nova Scotia - she'd been left to starve to death on the end of a chain on a native reserve - her name is Daisy - I've had her for 6 years now, and when I got her she was 45 pounds and now she's 90 pounds! She'd had 4 litters in 3 years, and the mother of the person who "owned" her - the "owner" had moved away - never fed her - so she was starving to death - withe 3 puppies. She's a great dog too.

I've never understood the dichotomy of what a seemingly wondrous relationship native people across North America are supposed to have with nature - but they treat dogs so unbelieveably horribly - same as with the Amish, but in a different way.

I have a blog too - and Daisy is one of the stars - it's at if you want to check it out - we're in Halifax, Nova Scotia!

Thanks for doing what you're doing! I wish you'd add that "followers" gadget so that we could follow your blog and see when you've got updates!

Joan in Halifax

4LoveofDogs said...

Thank you helping people be aware of this very serious issue. I again am disgusted by the ignorance of people and the cruelty to their pets. Today I received a phone call. One of many as I work at a pet supply store that provides offers mail order to northern locations. This man told me how his puppy is flea infested and has live things in his poop. I told him it sound like worms which is very easily and inexpensive to treat. Only 11.95 plus I could take it out of the package and put it in an envelope so there would be no shipping. He said oh no we don't have money like that we will just get a new puppy. The boys are going to be really sad they liked this puppy and the puppy really liked them. I continued to tell him that all the littermates would most likely have the worms as well. He ended the conversation telling me he was going to get a new puppy. I couldn't speak and just said goodbye. What if I were to send it for free. Would he use it? Would every dog owner in that reserve call me for free pet care? What is the solution? I don't know. This isn't the worst I have heard. I had calls about dogs having holes through their skin, tumor or growth the size of watermelons. The suggestion of contacting a vet for advice seems as likely to them as traveling to the moon. We need to educate their children, spay and neuter the animals and offer to remove unwanted animals. But how. With what resources? What about the casino that is on a not so northern Manitoba reserve? They have a public dog problem (I’ve seen it my self, cold starving begging for food at the casino doors). What if we pushed them to sponsor a traveling spay and neuter clinic. Or we make it more publicly know that the casino sees no problem with the mistreatment of animals. That would reduce customers. I know it’s pretty far fetched but, something must be done. Is there any animal rescue organizations providing any services to northern Manitoba reserves?

Reserve Dog Liberation Association said...

Hi and thanks for your remarks. It's so sad the way Canada treats it's animals, especially on some Reserves. The kids who live on these Reserves are certainly getting the wrong message about how to treat animals, from people who are supposedly 'one with nature'. What about the latest mauling in Manitoba where a child was killed? Obviously, the solution is not to shoot the dogs or otherwise destroy them. Has not worked so far or there would not be maulings. This mauling could have been prevented by EDUCATING First Nations about caring for animals. Most of them are needlessly fearful of the dogs. Fear causes rebound fear in the dogs. Throwing rocks at the dogs and generally letting them starve is not the way to avoid maulings.
The safety of children is being ignored on many Reserves because many First Nations cannot be bothered. They have more pressing problems. However, they could try multitasking.
Possibly the casinos could be tagged to support the dogs on their Reserves? That might be one avenue to try. We did try to mobilize a traveling spay/neuter unit. Too expensive and no vet wants to do free veterinarian procedures. As well, there are different laws in different provinces concerning licensing. It would be nice if animal welfare laws could be imposed on First Nations Reserves but that is not the current law. FN Reserves make their own by-laws. Some have animal welfare laws and some are very out-dated. Obviously not a priority. You asked about rescue organization providing services to northern Manitoba reserves? You might try to google to see what is available in your area. The CAAT (Canadian Animal Alliance Team) is a link provided in this blog that you might want to check into. Please write animal organizations (links provided here on blog) and let them know what you think! If we all start making it known what's going on that will put pressure on First Nations to act. It is sad that in the 21st century, the current generation of many First Nations children will carry on the belief that most animals have no value and that mistreatment is the norm. As I have said before, mistreating animals escalates more often that not into mistreatment of people. Is this truly what FN wants? We hope there is a solution!