Dr. David Kerr, a veterinarian with the Canadian Animal Assistance Team, performs a check-up on a young dog in Kuujjuaq. (Photo courtesy of Chris Robinson)

Kuujjuaq is getting a new animal clinic, but needs a veterinarian to work there

Recent pop-up visit shows need for permanent services, village councillor says

By Jeff Pelletier - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Following a three-day visit from a pop-up veterinary clinic earlier this month, a Kuujjuaq councillor says the community is once again looking to hire a full-time veterinarian.

The pop-up, run by the Canadian Animal Assistance Team was well-received, said Coun. Allen Gordon, who helped organize the visit. He described the operation as a “mass production.”

Kuujjuaq, like other Nunavik communities, has a large dog population, but lacks veterinary service. A new permanent clinic is currently under construction, but recently, the community’s only veterinarian left the job.

The Canadian Animal Assistance Team turned the Kuujjuaq Forum gym into a pop-up veterinary hospital from Oct. 22 to 24. (Photo courtesy of Chris Robinson)

When dogs are not spayed or neutered, and they have the opportunity to roam free, they can reproduce. Stray dogs may form packs, and when they aren’t sterilized, they can become aggressive to people and other dogs.

Gordon said dog overpopulation is safety concern not only in his own community, but across the North.

“There have been fatal incidents with children, both in Nunavut and Nunavik, over the years,” Gordon said.

Kuujjuaq’s new clinic is set to open next year. It will have the same regular services as an animal hospital in the south, Gordon said. But right now, no veterinarian has stepped up work there.

“Hopefully, again, there will be somebody willing to work up here, but at the moment, the job is open,” Gordon said.

“We were very fortunate that [the Canadian Animal Assistance Team] came here, and we don’t know when they will be available to come back here because they have a long list of villages that are on their list.”

The pop-up clinic ran from Oct. 22 to 24 in the Kuujjuaq Forum gym.

Over the course of their stay, the team of veterinarians, technicians and assistance saw 82 patients – mostly dogs but a few cats as well. The team performed 53 surgeries, most of which were spays for female dogs.

Chris Robinson, a veterinary technician and executive director of the Canadian Animal Assistance Team, said his organization aims to help communities establish plans to control their animal populations with access to essential veterinary services.

“A dog can have 18 to 20 puppies in a year, so when you spay a female, that’s 18 to 20 dogs that are potentially not going to be born to add to the population,” she said.

“A lot of people don’t want their female dog to be pregnant over and over and over and over, but it is difficult when you’re in a community where you don’t have the option of spaying and where there are a lot of unneutered males as well.”

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(11) Comments:

  1. Posted by Good news! on

    More communities need these services. Too often the solution to the problem is a bullet when sterilization is the true answer.


    • Posted by 867 on

      Problem is never going anywhere.

      People that are too lazy to get their dogs spayed or neutered are also too lazy to bother keeping their dogs tied up and fed.

      Next thing you got loose dogs roaming around town looking for food, in heat, getting chased by males and next thing there’s a litter of new pups. Owner then posts something on Facebook about having dogs to give away. People who can’t even take care of their own kids then say “oh my daughter loves puppies, I’ll take one”.

      Fast forward a few months, dog is becoming a nuisance and has grown into a large dog, so they let the dog out to roam free and die.

      Hamlets need to do a better job making sure all dogs are registered and to start charging those that are negligent. That dog you don’t care about is costing Hamlet and SPCA’s thousands of bucks.

      • Posted by Inuk from Nunavik on

        My kid got a puppy . as the dog got older , he lost intrest , so i looked after him . few years later another one of my kids got a puppy from one of our neighbors, i brought it back.

      • Posted by Good News! on

        Sad agreement. My hamlet has that exact problem. To the tune of 400 destroyed dogs a year, last I heard. Seems a weird way to honour the dogs and what they meant for the culture, especially after what the RCMP did.

  2. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    that’s exactly why we haven’t gotten a puppy. Wife and Daughter wanted a puppy one summer, I picked up a puppy from my Friend for the afternoon and told them they need to keep it, feed it, water it, and bring it outside to pee and clean up after it when it doesn’t.

    lasted the afternoon and that was it. I ain’t looking after a dog when it grows up. don’t have time for that.

    • Posted by Yup on

      I wish more people had that kind of judgment. Owning a dog is a huge respnsibility. 10-15 year commitment that costs thousands of dollars and takes up lots of kids. Sad to see so many people getting dogs that probably have no business having a dog, let alone having kids

  3. Posted by Chesley Mesher on

    Veterinarians are in demand, it is probable that a rotation of these doctors would be a short to medium term answer to having the service. The SPCA and other orgs, fb veterinarian groups, etc could be contacted and a schedule drawn up. Finding a permanent veterinarian willing to relocate… it will be a tough sell/for obvious reasons.

  4. Posted by Janice on

    When I was still living in the north, it took us 4 years (8 litters, though we managed to avoid 1 with a lot of suffering and misery on everyone’s part) to finally get our girl fixed. People were like “just send her down!”… it cost $10,000 in the end for the travel, fees, accomodations, and all the other vaccines and care she had never recieved in her life. I hope the vet clinic can make space and time for dogs from villages other than Kuujjuaq. Considering this dog breed is considered “rare”, it should be impaerative that we make an effort to protect the breed. We are alive today because of these dogs, we owe them a bit more than what they are getting now.

    • Posted by The problem on

      I will not knock you for caring for your dog, that’s ok. But there’s a contributing factor to the problems of nuisance dogs today, that’s new and concerning. People do have these little miniature dogs that no doubt, these dogs wouldn’t survive outdoors, they need the warmth and dedication of care from the owner. But many of the nuisance dogs are not theses little ones that’s kept in the house. Many if not most nuisance dogs are bigger dogs, rare breed included. These dogs are urging to be outside, not always inside. And people get them for pets, and it don’t work out well. Two things to consider: that as a pet, it will not be happy inside, even if the owner thinks so. If it’s kept inside, it’s a form of abuse for the life of the dog, to the delights of the owners cuddling. The other end of the spectrum is that what’s happening is that many people are letting them live outside to become nuisance, they are not abused in like the ones denied the opportunity to live outdoors, but they’re the nuisance dogs that we see going around. What to do? If you want a dog to live inside, get a one that belongs in that category. If you want a big dog, you have work to do.Tied it up , make it a house, take it for walks, hopefully, without the lease somewhere , so it can run. Like it or not, having a big dog , or one that needs to be outside, you have to balance. Seeing people with big dogs going for short walks is not healthy for the dog, neither is just letting it loose to be a nuisance. Dogs are are problem, created more by humans.

  5. Posted by Concerned beneficiary on

    I see only or maybe one dog a year or non at all.
    Burning off money for the building that will be used few times a year.
    Electricity, fuel, phone service, internet service, payrolls, employee or employees, councillors and lawyer to pay from very few incomes from owners of the pets will be not enough to support the company.
    How will they provide the other communities for their pets? ( medivac ? )
    Bankruptcy in no time.
    Just a wasted money.

    • Posted by I think you are correct on

      Yes, you are correct, it’s going to be just another avenue for wasted money to channel into. Not that it’s not needed, the need for a vet is there, but the dogs representative, the owners, are not going to use the service. It’s going to be good for the minority of people that are dog owners mostly those with dog team, and the indoor dog. The population of stray dogs will still be a problem. What’s the next item on the wasted fund list?


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