Healthy Dogs Healthy Communities


With colonialism, the move to reserves, and the introduction of Western hunting and transportation technologies, dog’s traditional roles have been largely lost in parallel to the loss of traditional ways of life for humans. [Ch1, pg2]

Elder Donna – Times Have Changed

The idea of dogs as physical recreation was echoed by another participant, who related engaging in recreational activities with dogs to the fostering of meaningful bonds.

[Ch4, page 10]

Did you know?
Physical health benefits related to dog companionship include increased motivation to engage in physical activity such as walking, improved management of type 2 diabetes, increased survival time with diagnosed cardiovascular disease, and improved Body-Mass Index and sleep scores. [CH1, pg1]

The physical health of the dog-human relationship is an important consideration, especially when some of the primary challenges highlighted around dogs in the Tri-communities relate to the physical safety of humans and dogs in the area

[Ch4, pg 28]

Well, maybe having some areas that are designated for people to go on walks or having a dog park or something where people can see that animals can interact in a positive way together

I would love to see a dog park but a small and a large dog park ‘cause I don’t think they should be in the same. Or you could have the option of going to the big dog park but it would be really nice to have just a small dog park. And we have all kinds of parks here that we could make that.

Dog Roles: Protection

Youth participants recognized the primary role of dogs contributing to the physical domain of relational health as ‘protection’. These protective roles overlapped with those mentioned by adults, with references made to the role of dogs in protecting the family from other animals or from people

[Ch4, pg11]

“(Our dog) even saved my little sister this summer. She was swimming in the water uptown and started to choke on water. My dog seen her and he just started swimming really fast to her. No matter what, your dogs will save you, no matter if they’re big or small (K.C.).

At the same time, participants in this study also noted that intact male dogs tend to pack up and compete for females in heat, and that this is a frightening occurrence as pack behavior can be unpredictable. As one participant said,

…then there’s the possibility of children being – especially when dogs are in heat and they start getting into aggression and you get testosterone levels. And it’s just a ticking time bomb of when a kid is the target

Dog Packs In Heat

In communities where there are large numbers of animals roaming, it becomes an impossibility for pet owners to walk their dog when every time they’re out and about, they’re approached by a pack of five or more dogs. Right? Often large groups of dogs get into a fight, or they get riled up which leads to people getting bit, other animals being attacked and these incidents cause fear and reduce the number of pet owners who will risk walking their dogs.

Photos courtesy of Ann Ratt

We need a vet. Why? Because there's all these dogs that are going around looking for scraps and getting sick. We need a vet, so we can take the dogs in when they need their shots. Why? So, they don't catch any sickness or viruses. In the spring or fall the dogs turn into packs and look for girl dogs and try mate.

Population Growth - Of Dogs

This emphasis on the importance of sterilizing dogs is echoed in concerns about dog population growth that can go unchecked without access to veterinary care [Ch4, Pg28-29]

Roaming free if they’re not spayed or neutered, it just leads to a higher growth rate with dogs in our community, a higher population of unwanted dogs.

If your dog’s not wandering the street there’s a better chance she’s not gonna get pregnant or he’s not gonna go get another dog pregnant.

Animal illness/injury

Another feature of the physical environment that contributes to how dogs are cared for is the inconsistent presence of fences in all yards, and the proximity of the community to ‘the bush’ and local wildlife. Participants recognized that fences improve control of dogs and could reduce contact between dogs in the community, possibly alleviating some concerns for inter-dog aggression, packing and threats to community safety

[Ch6, Pg71]

Another barrier I find is that... In order to build your own fence, you first need to buy and know how to build a solid fence.

...our fence is broken between. And mine’s all chain-link fence but the next door neighbour’s has an all-wooden fence and it’s rotten to the point of falling over. And so I’m worried about my dogs getting out or there being a dog fight or whatever…

Roaming Dogs Are Hungry

When they’re overbreeding people can’t afford to feed them all and then they get hungry... And then they get aggressive.

The lack of physical borders means that operationalizing a shared community approach to dog care and control is difficult, and has not yet been achieved

[Ch5, Pg 71]

Roaming Dogs Are Dangerous

Audio: Vet Med Students – Designed To Suit
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Dog Behavior

While the familiarity of a ‘family dog’ can mean that the humans living alongside the dog are not afraid of being bit, the reality is that any dog can bite, and dog bites very often occur in the family’s home environment (Rock et al., 2017). Managing the human behavioural contributors to dog bites as well as dog behaviour through training are important considerations in supporting healthy dog-human relationships in the home and elsewhere.

[Ch4, pg18]

Dog Death Is Natural

Elder Myles – If You Love Something
Pause here to listen

Healthy Dogs

ELDER Story: Rose Roberts’ (Stanley Mission) - ‘Changing Role of Dogs’

Abuse or Neglect

In Saskatchewan, enforcement of the Animal Protection Act is the responsibility of Animal Protection Officers (APOs). These include provincially appointed APOs, and those appointed municipally in Regina through the Regina Humane Society (Animal Protection Services of Saskatchewan, n.d.-b). RCMP and municipal police are also designated APOs (Government of Saskatchewan, 2018); however, most police officers do not receive adequate training to prepare them for the duties required under the Animal Protection Act.

[CH1, Pg 17-18]

Fear and Danger

Dogs as Recreation

Pets Play Important Teaching Roles

Beyond attending merely to the physical health of an individual animal or population of animals, ensuring good welfare means attending to the behavioral and emotional needs of animals as well….

[CH3, Pg30]

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