If there are stray dogs everywhere, why does hart focus on First
The stray dog issue is one of the most visible animal welfare
issues. It is a global problem with an estimated 600 million
stray dogs in the world. The overpopulation problem,
regardless of the location, perpetuates itself with every heat
When hart was in its formation stages, we learned about the
volume of stray and abandoned dogs in the Hobbema area. We
also learned that while there were numerous concerned citizens who
wished to help, there were no formal supports in place to
accomplish this. At the time, there were few rescue
organizations in the greater Edmonton area and no group
concentrated on the Hobbema area. It broke our hearts that
there were so many dogs without shelter, without food and without
care. It was even more heartbreaking that every heat cycle
there were more dogs born into the overpopulation problem.
In any community, managing stray dogs presents a problem.
There are serious animal welfare implications, public health
issues, societal and economic costs. The lack of options
leads almost all communities faced with this problem to explore
methods to limit the stray dog population, most often these actions
are dog culls. We believe there is a better way.
This is how and why we chose Hobbema as our target rescue
community. For those of you who are not familiar, Hobbema is
primarily a First Nation community that serves four reserves of
Cree bands and is located approximately 70 kilometers south of
Edmonton. The four reserves are collectively known as the
"four nations" which are party to Treaty Six. The four
nations that hart focuses on are Louis Bull Tribe, Samson Cree
Nation, Ermineskin Cree Nation and the Montana First Nation.
Because these four communities are situated beside one another, the
dogs naturally flow through the communities. The dogs do not
know the boundaries of one community to the next.
Because we believed there was a better way, we set to work
demonstrating that a humane and comprehensive approach can work to
ease the overpopulation problem and to offer a safer and healthier
life for strays and for community members. We had a vision
for a sustainable population management strategy that went
hand-in-hand with capacity building in the communities. This
is a big vision for a little group.
During our formation, we had wonderful opportunities to meet
with elders, residents and band leaders to learn their thoughts,
understand their goals and appreciate their limitations.
Through these meetings we realized that empowering the
community through education, resources and supports was going to
make the difference for future generations of humans and
dogs. We have worked diligently through our nine years to
build strong relationships with Field Volunteers. These
volunteers live and work in our target rescue communities and have
taken on the critical role of monitoring the dog population,
identifying at risk dogs, coordinating the rescue and transfer of
dogs based on foster vacancy, overseeing the distribution of food
for community dogs, educating about responsible pet ownership and
spreading awareness about spay/neuter programs.
While there are no quick and easy solutions for the stray dog
problem, by investing energy and effort into humane programs, these
collective efforts will make a difference in our focus