Iqaluit Humane Society shuts its animal shelter as lease with city nears end

With its current building set to soon be demolished, non-profit organization says it’s still looking for a new home

All signage has been removed from Building 1342, formerly the Iqaluit Humane Society. (Photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By David Lochead

The organization that gives homes to lost dogs now finds itself without a home of its own. 

The Iqaluit Humane Society shut its doors at 1342 Ulu Lane on Thursday. The City of Iqaluit, which owns the property, has set the building to be demolished and the humane society does not have another location in which to move. 

“It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we are announcing the closure of the Iqaluit Humane Society location until further notice,” the humane society stated on its Facebook page late Wednesday night.

Last week, the city gave the humane society a one-month extension on its lease, pushing the deadline to Oct. 1.

The humane society stated it had to move out now because the incoming winter weather made closing the shelter in a month “impossible” and people were available to help now.

An Aug. 25 letter from the city to the humane society states that “the council also wants to ensure that the transition goes smoothly and that there will be no harassment, bullying or intimidation towards staff. Any sign of unwanted behavior will result in the immediate termination of the lease.”

Nunatsiaq News made several attempts to seek comment from the humane society this week after learning about the pending end of its lease. Its representatives said they were unavailable but may speak later in the week.

Mayor Kenny Bell said in an interview that when the city extended the humane society’s lease last year, rudeness from the humane society toward staff was an issue.

“We told them at that time we wouldn’t allow them to be rude to our staff anymore and it didn’t stop,” Bell said. 

Bell also said the humane society is not as culturally relevant to northern customs as it needs to be. As an example, he said the humane society will wash huskies’ fur, which he said Inuit tradition holds should not be done because it damages the winter coat. 

“This is Inuit tradition, Inuit knowledge,” Bell said. 

While the humane society said it is still operating as a non-profit organization, it can no longer accept animals since it does not have a permanent location. The humane society accepted animals to shelter them, give them new homes and provide medical services. 

The city will continue to use the city-owned shelter to temporarily house impounded dogs, mostly in an outdoor sheltered area, Amy Elgersma, the chief administrative officer for the city, said in a statement. Elgersma added the purpose of keeping the shelter open is to reunite dogs with their owners and that the city will extend the amount of time it holds impounded dogs.

Elgersma said the shelter’s eventual destruction is because the building is in “disrepair and would require investments in the facility” for a longer term lease.

Bell said the city will operate and keep the shelter open as long as necessary. 

With loose dogs being a longstanding issue in Iqaluit, Bell said there will be a vote at the next council meeting to offer free dog licences, to help ensure that dogs get returned to their owners instead of going to a shelter. 

The humane society said its goal remains to secure a new location for an animal shelter.

Currently, the humane society has a trailer the same size as the 1342 Ulu Lane shelter but no location for the trailer to be placed. With $500,000 of construction funds in a trust fund, the humane society said it intends to raise the remaining amount of money necessary to have its own building.

Last year, the humane society started a fundraising campaign to raise $1 million for a new facility. In the same year the Eric S. Margolis Family Foundation made a donation of $250,000.

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(39) Comments:

  1. Posted by Share the statement? on

    Can you share the full text of the statement from CAO?

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  2. Posted by Jane on

    I dont cry for them. Nothing short of a blood sample required to adopt a pet. Should have been grateful when people wanted to adopt. So got 2 for free, had them for years. No fingerprint and record check required. Couldnt even get an old dog.

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    • Posted by Cindy Leishman on

      We tryed to adopt too, no one would talk to us.

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      • Posted by Still here on

        I completely agree, i am white and believe the adoption practises of the current humane society are illegal and discriminatory to the local inuit population, please enlighten yourself on the horrible adoption requirements that the current humane society tries to implement, there are many dogs that could have a good home in Iqaluit, but the requirements to adopt eliminate any sensible person for adopting an animal, currently our canadian law basically states animals are property, which i do not believe the humane society understands.

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    • Posted by Dog parent on

      I have to agree with the above commenters. I adopted a dog from the humane society in Iqaluit and it was definitely a process that discriminates. They favor down south shelters, especially if the dogs were husky mixes. Any type of dog that is “Popular” for adopting out.

      There were multiple incidents of dogs being sent down south, and adopted out, while owners were trying to locate their missing dogs. Whatever happened to the lawsuit from Meeka Mike about her puppies being sent down south?

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  3. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    I wonder how difficult it would be to transfer the land to the Society and let them remove or renovate the building. They do have the money to rebuild.
    Too much for council and senior management to comprehend? .

    Rude? Damn right I would be rude when hamlet staff was trying to kick me out of my home.

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    • Posted by Rude or not on

      It was leased to them for free. FOR FREE!!!! how would you feel if you lent your stuff out and get a rude reply if you asked for it back because it was in disrepair?

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      • Posted by Rick on

        I’d wouldn’t be petty and would understand that they were having a hard time and would do everything in my power to find them a new piece of land because they provide an essential service and I am not a child. Our mayor needs to be a leader. This isn’t the school ground.

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  4. Posted by Frank on

    Just another move by our power hungry mayor. Free dog tags? That’s the solution? Does this mayor even understand the problem? Most of the dogs in the shelter and unwanted and abandoned. His way or the highway and unfortunately the humane society has hit the road.

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  5. Posted by sled dogs vs family pets on

    Mayor Bell’s attempt to hide behind traditional Inuit dog practices is laughable.

    IHS took in all types of dogs, sometimes huskies most times mixed breeds. I highly doubt IHS was re-homing dogs to be part of a dog team, therefore the “winter coat” argument is a red herring attempt to throw shade on IHS.

    Most likely IHS was re-homing dogs to be family pets, where it makes total sense to wash the dog.

    Also, if a dog is injured and fur is matted, I imagine washing the dog would help assess extent of injury.

    do the right thing mayor Bell. #findsomeland

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    • Posted by How come mayor? on

      For a man that has lived his whole life in the North and is now hiding behind the excuse of Inuit traditional knowledge , how come he has never taken the opportunity to learn Inuktitut? If he cares so much about the Inuit traditions, how come he has never invested the time and energy to learn the language? Buying votes or genuinely invested? Something to think about for the next election.

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  6. Posted by Humane Society Not so Humane on

    Why would the humane society ever be welcomed in Iqaluit? They are very much involved in diminishing the seal industry and continue to try to make money off of the seal hunt. They believe shooting seals is inhumane.

    They have no respect for Inuit, sled dogs and look down on pretty much everything about Inuit culture. Look at their entitled and self-righteous ways in how they talk with city staff.

    I think there is a need for an animal shelter but not by the humane society, it should be local and respect Inuit knowledge.

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    • Posted by iThink on

      I think the term ‘Inuit knowledge’ has lost meaning and become diminished by people who use it to add weight to their personal gripes.

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    • Posted by IHS is not PETA on

      The Iqaluit Humane Society is trying to destroy the seal industry? Right…

      So, will you be the first person to step forward and put in the time and energy to start a new shelter? It’s easy to complain, but people never follow through action.

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      • Posted by anotherknowitallknowsnothing on

        The humane society is an international organization and you can find plenty of their anti-seal campaigns. The values of the society do not match the population it serves and it will constantly attract people that have the values of the society that don’t fit with the people here! This is a no-brainer, sorry it had to be explained.

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        • Posted by Mayer DingDong on

          The Iqaluit Humane society has nothing to do whatsoever with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) or their campaigns against seal hunting. Nothing. Nada.
          And our highly insecure Mayor is once again engaging in battles of ego with groups and individuals he doesn’t like. He simply doesn’t have the competence or the maturity to work for the betterment of the community as a whole.

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  7. Posted by Rude-ness on

    Only the mayor’s allowed to be rude. Please fall in line IHS.

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  8. Posted by Shameful on

    Time and again , we see this mayor seek revenge on organizations and people that that do not worship the ground he walks on. His bruised ego leads to unjust decisions and his solutions are ludicrous. The shelter has done a great service to the city of Iqaluit by taking on their responsibilities for the housing or dogs . Shame of the mayor once again for his putting his personal agenda ahead of the city . Free dog tags for dogs that are abandoned will lead to a lot of dead dogs in our landfill . Maybe if he spent more time focused on the needs of the city instead on Twitter trying to make friends with politicians, we’d be in a better place.

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  9. Posted by Ha! on

    Kenny Bell complaining about someone being rude is hilarious!! He is literally the rudest person I’ve ever met.

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  10. Posted by Bubba on

    bubba want a dog to clean dishs better then washing dishs

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  11. Posted by Grow up on

    The mayor is a menace. I wonder what city staff would say about his interactions with them and the level of rudeness?. This guy is power hungry and incompetent. He has demonstrated this multiple times. I feel sorry for the folks that have to work with this man. His blatant public digs show immaturity. He would rather see this city crumble than feel disrespected.

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  12. Posted by Egomaniac on

    I can’t wait for a statement from the humane society. I can’t imagine the nightmare stories they have to tell trying to work with our current mayor and his ego.

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  13. Posted by Lorraine Tees on

    This shutdown of the IHS is horrible and sad. It’s about these neglected and abused animals not your Mayor!! I sure hope for those animals that your community steps up and help the IHS and all the neglected and homeless animals.

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  14. Posted by Make Iqaluit great again!! on

    Everyone knows that Iqaluit has a terrible dog. You see abandoned dogs all over the place wondering around. The humane society was providing an invaluable service in giving those animals shelter, and trying to provide them with new homes. If the Mayor had any common sense whatsoever he would make it a top priority to get them a suitable location. They are providing an essential service!!!
    Please Mayor Bell, stop the insanity and work with the humane society. Stop with this foolishness about having a problem with them because they have washed some huskies!! Do you actually listen to yourself?? You’ve become the Donald Trump of Iqaluit

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  15. Posted by Shelter Volunteer on

    I had the privilege of volunteering at the shelter for 3 years and I wonder if any of the people making negative comments actually volunteered? Helped? Sought to learn more about the shelter? Because there is so much inaccurate info here. I chose to help so this is an observation not a complaint: I walked those dogs at 5am in -50. I stroked their back when they were taking their last breaths. I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. I went to the airport and carried huge crates and drove pick up trucks of waste to the landfill. I was dirty and tired and I wouldn’t change a thing. The shelter was just that. A shelter for lost abandoned animals and they NEVER went south until all options of looking for their owners were exhausted. Did you know that it is bylaws job to look for the owners and NOT the shelters job??? Sick animals were treated. Animals in pain were given what comfort we could. Is the IHS perfect? Absolutely not!! Did the public ever come to open house annual board meetings? NEVER! Did I agree with every decision? NO! But that’s going to be the same with every organization and the shelter overwhelmingly did good not just for Iqaluit but the entire Baffin region. One last thing…. I’ve never spoken out about this before but now that people are directly accusing the shelter of wrong doings I’m going to say something. I found a loose neighbors dog wandering at the shelter and I brought it home to the people 3x and explained if I wasn’t the one finding it, it would go to bylaw and they’d have to pay to get it back. The 4th time that’s exactly what happened and the dog was apprehended, waited for them to claim (and they knew it was there because I told them) and they never came and got it. Later I was publicly accused of stealing their dog and called a racist white person. I even fed and watered their dog for a week when they went south and it was loose!! So my point is, no one is perfect but we showed up, we stayed up, we worked through blizzards, etc to care for animals the best way we could. Now who will do that? YOU? The armchair critic??

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    • Posted by Puppers on

      Have they ever made any of their AGM open to the public? Perhaps there would be more support if they were transparent.

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      • Posted by Shelter Volunteer on

        All associations must have their AGM open to the public. It is part of the rules.

        • Posted by Puppers on

          I have never once seem them post a poster for their AGM, haven’t heard a CBC announcement or a single facebook post. Must only be available for Friends of the Iqaluit Humane Society.

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          • Posted by SJW on

            Bingo! And as another person said this has been YEARS in the process. The building they were operating in is condemned and being torn down FOR A REASON. It has absolutely nothing to do with who is Mayor, or council.

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            • Posted by Read the article on

              Read the darn article! It’s not about the building. It’s about the land! They have been trying to secure land but the city is refusing to allow them to use any city land because the mayor thinks that some people were rude to him.

            • Posted by Shelter Volunteer on

              I’m not a representative voice for the shelter so I can’t say for sure how it was posted but I believe it was. Again, there are rules that have to be followed and when I considered being on the board I do recall notice about the meeting but do not recall where.
              Regardless. A fresh start is always a good thing and it sounds like you want to get involved so now would be a good time to contact them and see where you can help. Will you?
              My last comment on this is hopefully both parties can overcome whatever disagreements have occurred and find a solution. AND that people who have a virtual opinion show up in real life.

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  16. Posted by Jennifer MacIsaac on

    How sad this is. All the good that the humane society has done and the Mayor shuts them down cause someone happened to be “rude”. How petty of him!

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  17. Posted by Braindead Mayor on

    Mayor Bell: If you know so much about Inuit customs why don’t you make an “Inuit dog shelter” run by Inuit? You’re a master at running your mouth but not doing anything. Instead of worrying about staff having their feelings hurt by perceived “rudeness” and Iqaluit’s dog problem running rampant, fix it. You’re the damn mayor and you got a City to run, not the other way around.

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  18. Posted by SawThisComing on

    The IHS has known for a long time that they were going to have to vacate the building, this was not a surprise eviction.

    The IHS has been leased the building FOR FREE for a very long time.

    The city is doing its job by addressing a dilapidated and potentially dangerous building so that no people or animals are put at risk.

    This was not a sneak attack by the city on the IHS, they have had more than enough time to make alternative arrangements.

    Iqaluit needs an animal shelter that is transparent with its policies and procedures, and works positively with community members to ensure that stray animals in Iqaluit have the most favourable outcome; be it reunion, or re-homing. Hopefully a fresh start in a new location will help to achieve this.

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    • Posted by Candace on

      While it’s true that the IHS did not pay monetary rent, they paid for the space with in-kind services, performing a function that would otherwise fall to the City. City dog catchers catch dogs, but it seems to me that the IHS did everything else involved in caring for and re-homing them. This is a similar arrangement to the Humane Society in Ottawa, which shares a building with Ottawa by-law, and is, effectively, a municipal animal shelter. This is just so incredibly short-sighted of the City of Iqaluit, which, even with the IHS, has a growing dog problem.

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    • Posted by Read the article on

      It’s not about the building. The city is refusing the IHS to use any city land to park their trailer because the mayor feels insulted. Read the article and try to keep up.

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  19. Posted by Dog Lover on

    The only issue here is that they currently have no facility to continue their awesome work. Rescuing dogs from irresponsible owners, starving dogs, dog with all kind of worms or any unhealthy infections. Inuit culture my ass, lock after your dogs, and there is no problem. If you have sled dogs, this is a different story, but most owners are looking after them well.
    I guess a puppy is just like a baby in Nunavut; cute in the beginning and than it becomes a burden and it should be given away for adoption or (dog) sold on Facebook.
    Blame, blame, blame, that’s all you can do, including our good old Mr. Bell. Focus on real issues in Nunavut, and by this I don’t mean the Housing situation and Mental health. Go to school, graduate and learn the difference between right from the wrong.

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    • Posted by Josh on

      Are you suggesting that babies in Nunavut are given up for adoption after they stop being cute? That is pretty small minded. You obviously know nothing about Inuit custom adoption or our culture.

      Going to school and graduating obviously doesn’t equal intelligence which is what your statement shows.

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