Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No more rescuing dogs from reserves

Complaints, vet bills halt missions

  • Print
Cathie Mieyette with dogs.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Cathie Mieyette with dogs. Photo Store

The Sagkeeng Spay Neuter Initiative Program has called a halt to volunteer rescue missions to remove stray dogs from Manitoba First Nations.

The volunteer service will shift back to its original focus, which is the spay-and-neuter clinics for dogs it started two years ago, founder Cathie Mieyette said.

The volunteer group reached the decision after a series of rescue missions ended in dog owners accusing volunteers of dog-snatching.

Part of the problem is volunteers from the city don't share the same values as rural dog owners from First Nations who let their animals roam, Mieyette said.

"They're city people. They don't see that in Winnipeg, where your dogs are tied up and in your yard. A dog running loose in the city? Bang. You got to catch it and phone the pound because you know it's a lost dog if it's running at large. It's totally different," Mieyette said.

The rescues have cost her, too.

She now faces $10,000 in veterinary bills for the "broken dogs" volunteers have brought her in the last month.

She has no way to pay without mounting a fundraising campaign.

"We were doing so good. We were doing amazing and all of a sudden (there are) these broken dogs -- that's what we call them -- left for us. I have to pay these vet bills."

By one estimate, 30 dogs have vanished in the past year from Sagkeeng First Nation.

At Black River, nine were taken two weeks ago.

There are no reports from Peguis, Thompson, The Pas and Sioux Valley, which SSNIP also serves.

Different perceptions on the role of dogs have turned the controversy into a battleground on social media for racial, cultural and social stereotypes, pet owners say.

The issue came to a head over a missing boxer from Black River called Rusty.

"They came and grabbed him!" said the boxer's owner, Milly Cook, a worker at the band office for the Ojibwa First Nation, 150 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

When Rusty disappeared two weeks ago, the Cooks learned a SSNIP volunteer took Rusty along with some legitimate strays.

Cook pleaded on Facebook for Rusty's return, but a site administrator told her that, because Rusty didn't have a tattoo or a microchip, she couldn't prove the dog was hers.

Mieyette is a cancer survivor whose volunteer clinics tour Manitoba First Nations.

She's seen 700 dogs spayed and neutered in the last couple of years.

But in the last year, she's also been troubled by the kind of stories the Cooks reported.

"I don't want to be bashed for what my team has done in the last two years, the 700 dogs later, the $100,000 I have raised to put into this," Mieyette said.

She said the boxer from Black River showed scars and frostbite, so she believed he was a stray. Last week, she surrendered the pet to the province's chief veterinary office so the Cooks can reclaim it.

"As of now, because of this, I won't be getting volunteers to go out and do more work. I'm a cancer survivor and this has taken its toll on me. This is disheartening," Mieyette said.

"The only way we could work that out after this is if the person who owns the dog or the chief phones us up and surrenders an animal. That's the only way to change things so you don't have this same mess."

Corrine Sinclair used to work with SSNIP in Sagkeeng but then she heard about food being left to lure dogs into vehicles, stories about families spotting dogs that looked like their missing pets for sale on Kijiji and strangers bothering people at home about how they treated their dogs.

"A year ago when we started, I was really happy to have them (SSNIP) out here. They were offering spay-and-neuter clinics because people couldn't afford it," Sinclair said. "Then we started to hear people say their dogs were disappearing... And a lot of times you think you know what happened but you can't prove it.

"I think maybe some people got carried away with doing something good."

Sagkeeng Chief Donavan Fontaine defended SSNIP but said the tensions are stirring up disturbing stereotypes on both sides.

"Not all non-native people are aggressively imposing themselves or their views. And vice versa. Not all aboriginal people abuse or starve their animals," Fontaine said.

"It's so stereotypical, the emaciated stray dog, car wreck in the yard and boarded-up windows. The reality is that's a minority now. We have many beautiful animals, properties yards, buildings and infrastructure," the chief said.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 21, 2014 A4

History

Updated on Monday, April 21, 2014 at 10:54 AM CDT: Clarifies photo captions.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Vendors say ugly Christmas sweaters create brisk business

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Horses enjoy a beautiful September morning east of Neepawa, Manitoba  - Standup Photo– Sept 04, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Two Canada geese fly Wednesday afternoon at Oak Hammock Marsh- Front bird is banded for identification- Goose Challenge Day 3- - Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will you watch The Interview?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google