The plight of one dog is mobilizing more than 1,000 people.
Paw Tipsters, a local non-profit charity that collects tips on animal abuse, has 1,500 signatures after just three days on a petition called Trooper's Law.
The petition (www.change.org) was started after a dog was shot in the face last weekend in a northern community and left to die. The retriever cross, named Trooper by his rescuers, didn't survive.
He lay in a yard for five days, suffering and ignored, with 17 pellets in his face. He was a victim of a dog shoot, common in many northern communities as a quick way to reduce an out-of-control stray-dog population.
"The dogs run loose. They're not fixed, so they reproduce very quickly," said Yvonne Russell of Paw Tipsters. "They're neglected and starving, so they pack up and do what they need to survive. If that means attacking people, they will.
"This is where spaying and neutering is a major issue. To be shooting these dogs with shotguns, setting them on fire and throwing them on the garbage pile. This is happening and it's appalling."
The petition calls for the end of dog shoots, or culls, in the hope that federal funding to assist in spay-and-neuter programs will follow.
"Trooper was shot and left in that state in a yard and in such horrific pain. These dog culls have been going on for years, and I just thought enough is enough. Something needs to be done about this because it's terrible," Russell said.
She said every time someone signs the online petition, an email notification is sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Premier Greg Selinger, and Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak.
"We need federal funding to get these problems under control and educate these communities on taking care of your pets," Russell said.
Sagkeeng First Nation, about 110 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, has already taken steps to confront the stray-dog problem. The Sagkeeng Spay and Neuter Initiative Program (SSNIP) held its first clinic two weeks ago using a mobile unit in a large trailer parked at the Sagkeeng hall.
The program is run by SSNIP founder Cathie Mieyette and Ashern-based veterinarian Dr. Keri Hudson Reykdal, who performs the surgeries and owns the mobile unit. It is funded by donations.
"I thought it was wonderful for controlling the dog population, which is a problem on most reserves," said Sagkeeng Chief Donovan Fontaine, who commended the many volunteers who stepped up to help look after the dogs before and after surgery.
"We don't have (veterinary) services, and most people can't afford to take their pets to the city,"
The SSNIP program spayed and neutered 23 dogs at the clinic and provided followup care a few days later. Another clinic is scheduled for June.
"Far too often we hear of maulings. No one wants that," Fontaine said. "This gives us a chance to deal with it in a humane way so we didn't have to cull (shoot) the dogs. I didn't like that; that wasn't a good way."
The Sagkeeng council is running a public-awareness campaign about controlling the dog population.
"Some people say, 'Oh, let the dog have one litter and experience motherhood.' Well, the lady (with SSNIP) said to me if 10 people do that, there's 100 dogs right there," Fontaine said.
Learn more about Trooper's Law at www.change.org. Search Trooper's Law.
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