Fire Chief Mark Wyatt is probably bang on when he says there are still people who would prefer every stray dog caught in Rankin Inlet be shot, rather than shipped south and found a new home for.
But Rankin has come an incredible way in the way dogs, in general, are treated in the community since I first moved here almost 21 years ago – and that’s a good thing the community should be very, very proud of.
No longer do you see dogs tied-up on a few feet of rope, barely able to stretch their bodies and having to eat in the same space where they relieve themselves of their feces and urine.
And, the vast majority of dogs in Rankin Inlet now – either through bylaw and Page Burt at the Nanuk Lodge, or during the annual visit of a team of animal health-care professionals from the Winnipeg-based Tuxedo Animal Hospital – all have their vaccinations, making for a much safer dog population and, as such, a much safer community.
You rarely see the old skin-and-bone dogs of years past running loose in the hamlet and causing a panic, nor do you see dogs with obvious marks of physical abuse on their bodies.
The odd report of a group of overzealous kids bugging a tied-up dog and making it angry is all that appears, at least, to remain of the rampant abuse of man’s best friend that used to happen far more frequently in the community more than a decade or two ago.
And Rankin should also be proud it has a bylaw team in place that not only makes every effort to find a loose or lost dog’s owners in the community, but also does all it can to ensure any dog left to its own devices in Rankin is soon placed in a new home somewhere in Canada.
A tip of the hat from this old scribe, as well, to Calm Air for doing its part to ensure so many of these dogs ultimately end-up with loving owners and families.
It is no small thing.
An approach like the one employed by the Rankin bylaw department shows the community cares, and people here believe every dog that’s no longer wanted locally deserves a chance to find his forever home somewhere in the south.
It does make you wonder, however, with about 130 dogs and puppies being shipped south this past year, why so many people bring dogs here and quickly decide they no longer want them, especially with little house or lap dogs that are not equipped to survive the Kivalliq climate.
And bigger dogs, that have not received any love or affection from their owners, can often be the aggressive dogs loose in the community that bylaw officers have no choice put to put down.
It’s an awful waste of a once-loving family pet.
The key to lowering the pet population in Rankin – and hence the number of loose dogs in the community – remains, as always, in the hands of their owners to have them spayed or neutered.
Both Page Burt and John Hickes at the Nanuk Lodge and the health professionals who visit Rankin annually from Winnipeg have been pounding on the drum of pet spaying or neutering for a good many years now.
And now, Wyatt has joined them in trying to amplify the message somewhat to see our pet population, especially dogs, decline to the point loose dogs in the community becomes a rarity, rather than the common occurrence it still is.
And the community is making progress.
There is no comparison between the number of unwanted dogs running loose in the community today and those of more than a decade ago, and the annual vet clinic is pretty much always full to its limit these days.
As with all life, it would be nice to see the community of Rankin Inlet continue with its efforts so that the day may come when no dogs have to be put down in Rankin again, unless afflicted with something like rabies or distemper.
A life is a precious thing, and a lifetime of love and affection between a pet and its family remains something quite special across Canada today.
Led by the bylaw department right now, people in Rankin Inlet are working to save canine lives and that’s something the community should be very, very proud of indeed.
Food for thought.