Dr. Martine Nadeau, a veterinarian with Chiots Nordiques, performs a sterilization surgery on a dog in Kangirsuk. (Photo courtesy of Daphnée Veilleux-Lemieux)David Venn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 18, 2022 at 12:21

By David Venn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A Quebec animal rescue organization flew 30 dogs south from Kangirsuk this week following a spay and neuter clinic in the community.

A team of 18 volunteers with Chiots Nordiques, a non-profit group that brings travelling veterinary clinics to northern Quebec communities, was in Kangirsuk from Aug. 12 to 15 to perform check-ups and sterilizations on the village’s dogs.

During the visit, close to 100 dogs were examined and 80 were surgically spayed and neutered, said Daphnée Veilleux-Lemieux, president of Chiots Nordiques.

Veilleux-Lemieux, a veterinarian by trade, said her organization has a lot of experience transporting large groups of staff and loads of veterinary equipment to run these clinics.

Loading 30 stray and surrendered puppies and dogs onto a chartered flight, however, was a different challenge.

“It’s a huge number for a flight,” she said in an interview.

“By road, it’s really easy, normally we transport 30 to 80 dogs per clinic.”

The dogs, now in the south, have been dispersed to various foster homes and rescue services with the hope they will be adopted.

In Nunavik, it’s common for communities to be overpopulated with dogs. Kangirsuk, which has a population of less than 600 according to census data from 2016, is no exception.

Nunavik’s first permanent veterinary clinic is under construction in Kuujjuaq. When it opens next year, it is expected to have the infrastructure to allow veterinarians to perform surgeries and provide care to animals across the region.

But without that clinic in service yet, dogs in some communities are at risk of being killed by locals as a way to control the population — something Veilleux-Lemieux said most people want to avoid.

“They want a medical solution,” she said.

Getting Chiots Nordiques to Kangirsuk took nearly a year and a half of planning, Veilleux-Lemieux said. COVID-19 restrictions prevented a large group of volunteers from travelling, and then earlier this year Kangirsuk elected a new mayor and council the group needed to work with.

Another trip to Kangirsuk is in the works for next year, Veilleux-Lemieux said, and the hope is that more communities will get spay and neuter services to get their dog populations under control.

This item reprinted with permission from Nunatsiaq News, Iqaluit, Nunavut