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Dog overpopulation needs formal solution in light of toddler’s death: Winnipeg vet

Veterinarian Jonas Watson.
Veterinarian Jonas Watson. Mike Arsenault/Global News

After a two-year-old boy was fatally mauled by stray dogs in the Manitoba community of Gods Lake earlier this week, one Winnipeg vet says he’s surprised those attacks don’t happen more often.

Dr. Jonas Watson of the Tuxedo Animal Hospital – who has spent time working with animals in northern communities – told 680 CJOB dog overpopulation up north is a big problem.

“How does this happen? Dogs that do not have an adequate food supply and do not have basic needs met, veterinary and otherwise, turn to a very desperate situation,” he said.

READ MORE: Two-year-old boy killed by dogs near his Gods Lake home: RCMP

“Frankly, I’m surprised we don’t hear of more stories like this in light of the fact this is such a prevalent problem across dozens … of First Nations communities across the province.”

Watson said the issue needs to be considered as a public health, public safety, and animal welfare problem, and that Manitoba politicians need to start taking it seriously, rather than laying blame on the communities themselves.

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“Veterinary care, as it exists, is not really an option. This is a community we’re talking about that is more than 500 km away from Winnipeg,” he said.

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“It’s not so simple to spay, neuter, vaccinate, deworm all of these animals.

“We have to look at ourselves and say are we happy with the status quo – and we ought not to be – or are we going to do something meaningful about this?”

Watson said the rescue groups and veterinarians that are volunteering their time to help in these communities should be applauded, but he’d like to see more formal government backing to tackle what he calls a “societal problem.”

“I’m the father of a two-year-old myself, and I cannot imagine the experience of that family and the community this week.”

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