WEATHER ALERT

Veterinary program to serve northern Manitoba

Advertisement

Advertise with us

A new Winnipeg-based animal welfare program is set to provide essential veterinary services to remote communities across northern Manitoba.

Read this article for free:

or

Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe with this special offer:

All-Access Digital Subscription

$1.50 for 150 days*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles
Continue

*Pay $1.50 for the first 22 weeks of your subscription. After 22 weeks, price increases to the regular rate of $19.00 per month. GST will be added to each payment. Subscription can be cancelled after the first 22 weeks.

A new Winnipeg-based animal welfare program is set to provide essential veterinary services to remote communities across northern Manitoba.

The Winnipeg Humane Society launched the One Health program Monday morning, as provincial government announced $750,000 in funding for the initiative, which aims to add more veterinary clinics, spay and neuter sessions and share knowledge on community-based methods of animal care.

“The beauty and culture in nature in northern Manitoba is vast,” said Gina Bowen, the humane society’s director of veterinary services.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS “The difference in availability and distribution of animal health resources compared to southern Manitoba is also vast,” said Gina Bowen, the humane society’s director of veterinary services.

”The difference in availability and distribution of animal health resources compared to southern Manitoba is also vast.”

The provincial support brings the humane society closer to its $1.5 million goal, which would allow it to send a veterinarian, vet technician, volunteers and gear to 10 remote clinics across northern Manitoba annually, compared to eight clinics last year.

Access to veterinary services and spay and neuter programming has been a pervasive issue in many remote communities. COVID-19 restrictions created an even wider gap in services, said Winnipeg Humane Society CEO Jessica Miller.

“Manitoba is such a huge province, and so whether it’s traveling by air or traveling by the car, it’s hours and hours and hours of work,” she said. “What we want to do is have planned community clinics where we can go up, do a bunch of work at a time as fast as we can to serve whatever the need is, and then come back down and go right back again a few months later.”

Advocates have long called for more funding to support the mitigation of dog populations, which can run rampant in northern communities and create safety concerns.

The practice of dog culling — sometimes called “dog days” — in which stray dogs are killed by community members has been criticized as an inhumane response to the problem.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Jessica Miller, CEO of Winnipeg Humane Society, says the One Health program will add vet clinics, spay and neuter sessions and share knowledge on community-based methods of animal care in northern Manitoba communities.

Most remote communities are looking for support to pursue more humane approaches, Brokenhead First Nation Chief Gordon Bluesky said.

“There’s a lot of people in our communities that truly do care about animals,” he said. “We also have to understand … we have a capacity issue too, how many animals that you can take care of and how many animals that can be treated.”

Brokenhead First Nation doesn’t take part in dog days, Bluesky said, but added it was “just one community out of many that probably do have issues.” Support from the Winnipeg Humane Society would be welcomed with open arms, he said.

“Before we get to standing alone and on our own, we need to be resourced and supported, and the capacity needs to be built within our communities,” he said. “Especially with something like animal control, I think that’s a pretty small ask.”

Collaboration with remote communities is paramount, Miller said. Conversations between the humane society and community leaders will direct how clinics are organized.

“They know what they would like assistance with, it’s not for us to say,” she said. “So we sit with elders, chiefs, different community partners — we have several already — and they tell us what the need is.”

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES “Before we get to standing alone and on our own, we need to be resourced and supported, and the capacity needs to be built within our communities,” Chief Gordon Bluesky said.

Last year, the humane society, in partnership with other animal welfare organizations, spayed and neutered around 375 animals from remote communities and vaccinated another 224.

malak.abas@freepress.mb.ca

Malak Abas

Malak Abas
Reporter

Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.

Report Error Submit a Tip

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Local

LOAD MORE LOCAL