WINNIPEG — The mauling death of a young woman on a remote Manitoba First Nation has veterinarians and local animal rescue groups calling for more action from the federal and provincial governments.
Donnelly Rose Eaglestick, 24, was mauled to death by a pack of dogs over the weekend on Little Grand Rapids First Nation in Manitoba.
“We don’t want to see more tragedies like the one we just saw,” veterinarian Jonas Watson said. The time is now for governments to step up.”
Municipalities are responsible for animal control in their area through their own bylaws. Animal control on First Nations property falls under the jurisdiction of the Band Council, and off reserve it would be the local municipality.
“We are barely scratching at the surface of addressing dog overpopulation in remote areas and it is absolutely time for the government to assist with the provision of vet care in these communities,” Watson said.
Watson said the challenges that are faced by more than 60 First Nations across the province cannot be solved easily and without provincial and federal funding to help, problems and deaths will continue.
“A grass roots approach is not going to get us out of this crisis,” Watson said.
“”We really do need a collaborative approach between federal and provincial governments, health care providers, Manitoba vets and rescue groups to allow for the provision of services that will help to improve animal welfare and reduce the risk dogs pose to public health and safety.”
In the interim Little Grand Rapids First Nation will cull a number of dogs to try to get the upper hand on its stray dog population.
“We’re planning to shoot the dogs and try to put the dogs away,” Chief Roy Dunsford said. “There’s so many dogs around in our reserve right now. Everywhere you go you see a dog.”
A cull is an immediate solution to help get control of the stray and feral dog population and is one that happens many times a year throughout remote First Nation communities.
“Culling becomes an option when no other options are provided,” Manitoba Mutts Dog Rescue’s Colleen Holloway said. “When you have something that has grown to this level of packs of feral, wild dogs, large animals… this is the only option you have.”
But having communities deal with multiple cull days can be traumatic and experts said it cannot be the long term solution.
“Packs of dogs that are roaming free can be dangerous to the population where they live and sometimes shooting them is the answer,” Watson said. “But there is an emotional toll on communities that have to constantly bear witness to dogs being shot over and over and over again. It’s traumatic.