By Jasmine Franklin
The recent rescue of 40 puppies and two dogs from the Ermineskin and Samson communities of Hobbema has catapulted action to get roaming dogs off their streets.
On March 11, animal rescue teams including Sundance Canine Rescue and the Humane Society took just under 40 puppies and two dogs from the homes and streets of Ermineskin and Samson said Dwayne Eaglechild, manager of Ermineskin’s Health Community Centre.
The animals taken were all in need of better living conditions or medical attention. Though the community deeply respects the four-legged animals, the time has come to take action on roaming dog populations and general health of canines in the area.
“We are trying to address the issue of our community’s safety while also addressing the health and safety of the dogs,” Eaglechild said. “We want them to have a chance to have a family and a good life.”
The first step he said is to stop the dogs from reproducing.
On any given day, up to 100 roaming dogs of all different breeds can be found on the Ermineskin site Eaglechild said. The biggest concern being the safety for children and school students when dogs enter education grounds.
“Every year for the last three years we have about 50 reported dog bites,” Eaglechild said. “This year, we are already just under 15.”
Eaglechild explained that because dogs are part of the Native American culture, the community feeds the animals as a way of respect and keeping them healthy. The feeding is one way to control dogs attacks Eaglechild said but once dogs form a pack it’s hard to determine what they will do.
All dog packs should be avoided he said.
With all factors in mind, Eaglechild is stepping up to begin cleansing the community of dogs.
“I hope to have another round of action taken like last week’s very soon where we go door-to-door and ask about the animals and their conditions,” Eaglechild said. “All animals are voluntarily given up.”
Hounds of Hobbema
This June, a clinic called “Hounds of Hobbema” partnered with Alberta Spay and Neuter task force and Vets Without Borders, will come to Hobbema to spay and neuter animals.
“Our first focus in the situation is to control the amount of dogs being produced,” Eaglechild said. “Then secondly will be to ensure the dogs we have are continuing to be healthy.”
Following the clinic in June, a clinic focused on dog wellness will take place in August where pet owners can bring their animals and receive medical assessments.
“Animals need rights, respect and protection,” Eaglechild said. “I am very against random shootings towards animals — we need to look at the source of the problem rather than taking a short way out to eliminate it.”
Dogs will begin to get profiled on their whereabouts and what breed they are to help determine where dog bites are occurring and which dogs are acting out.
Tracy Penrod with Sundance Canine Rescue, one of the rescue societies involved in the March 11 event, said it’s very sad to see this kind of activity.
“Dogs need help too and we knew we needed to help them with population control,” she said. “It’s like you’re in the ditch waiting for food and it never comes.”
Penrod said another factor in the dog problem is due to individuals from outside the area that use Hobbema as a dumpsite for their dogs.
“One woman who called said she had witnessed a couple not from Hobbema pull up and dump something in a trash can,” Penrod said. “She went to see what it was and found three puppies. It’s just heartbreaking.”
There is no bylaw officer in Ermineskin to help control the problem, however Eaglechild said rescue agencies such as Sundance, the Humane Society, Team Heart, ABC Rescue and others have been extremely helpful and generous.