Depopulation not the answer for unwanted or feral animals in rural areas

I am writing in response to your news item concerning the bodies of dogs found near the Runnymede tracks.

While I fully comprehend the dangers of feral dog packs and support the need for population control, depopulation should not be the preferred method of birth control for our canine friends. Neither is rescue a viable plan.  

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In addition, it is inaccurate to suggest that the problem originates entirely outside the community.  Dogs are sometimes abandoned on our First Nations communities, but it is also true that they are abandoned in our towns and rural areas. There are many responsible pet owners, but there are also many unspayed and unneutered pets in our communities. Society needs to impress upon everyone that it is not acceptable to allow pets to reproduce indiscriminately. 

We hear many reasons for not spaying pets. One is not having access to veterinary services.  Cote First Nation is only two miles from Kamsack Veterinary Clinic. Another is finances. I believe that if we cannot afford to spay and neuter our pets, then we cannot afford to feed and care for them properly.

Some owners say that they wish their pet to experience motherhood. Animals apparently do not have the abstract thinking abilities to be distressed by a lack of progeny. It is not beneficial to allow a pet to have a litter before spaying. Spaying and neutering done at a veterinary facility is done with great care and concern to minimize distress to the patient. Pets are healthier and there are fewer behavioural issues such as roaming and aggression. 

Some individuals seem to project their own self image onto their pets. They seem to feel that altering their pet somehow has a negative effect on their own self worth. I hear comments such as "My dog is a real man; he's intact.” Again, society needs to make it clear that attitudes such as this are not acceptable. 

Some families wish their children to experience puppies or kittens. This may appear to be a good idea, but those puppies and kittens need to be cared for over the next fifteen years. They are only babies for a few weeks. I suggest that there are better ways to teach our families about life.

All communities, including First Nations Communities, need animal control regulations and they need to enforce those regulations. Dogs must not be permitted to roam at large, whether they are owned or not. Dogs need to be spayed or neutered except for registered breeders. Those who wish to breed dogs need to conform to Canada's code of practice standards for kennels.

It is an admirable goal to try to rescue feral dogs everywhere. However, our rescue groups are overwhelmed. We need people to step up and provide forever homes for these unfortunate critters. Population control is imperative.

We must not rely on surrender to a rescue as our birth control plan for our pets. And we need everyone to be responsible pet owners.