Former veterinarian points finger at Yukon government in Ross River death

The Yukon government bears some responsibility in the death of a Ross River man who was killed and partially consumed by feral dogs last October, says a former veterinarian.

The Yukon government bears some responsibility in the death of a Ross River man who was killed and partially consumed by feral dogs last October, says a former veterinarian.

Richard Herbert was commissioned by the government to develop a dog control pilot program for Ross River in 2010. But that contract was later cancelled, and Herbert said the government didn’t act on recommendations that could have prevented Shane Glada’s death.

Glada’s body was found on Oct. 17, after he’d been missing for several days. Earlier this week, chief coroner Kirsten Macdonald attended a community meeting in Ross River to explain the results of Glada’s autopsy, which show that he was killed by a pack of semi-domesticated dogs.

Herbert’s pilot program was born out of concerns about feral dogs in Ross River back in 2010. He published two reports that made extensive, far-reaching recommendations about how to solve the problem. His recommendations included a requirement for veterinary licensing in the territory, an overhaul of dog-related laws, better veterinary services in the communities and more resources for enforcement and public education.

“But they didn’t do any of it. They left everything exactly the same,” Herbert said. “If you leave everything exactly the same and there was a problem to begin with … that definitely makes you culpable.”

Mary Vanderkop, Yukon’s chief veterinary officer, said Herbert’s contract was cancelled because the reports contained factual inaccuracies and made recommendations beyond the scope of what the government was able to provide.

Back in 2011, the News was told the pilot program would be too expensive to implement.

Still, Vanderkop said some of the report’s recommendations have been carried out. In particular, the government has helped offset the cost of spaying and neutering pets for the last several years.

The government hosted a spay-and-neuter clinic in Ross River shortly after the reports were published, and later funded a spay-and-neuter voucher program through the Humane Society Yukon. About 40 dogs from Ross River were sterilized under that program between 2013 and 2015, though 60 vouchers were offered.

But six months ago, the government tried and failed to host another clinic in Ross River, because no veterinarian was able to go. “There was simply no one who had the time,” Vanderkop said.

She explained that the government can’t require veterinarians to visit communities, since they usually do so at a financial loss. “We could hardly ask them to engage in activities that would represent even more of a business loss to them,” she said. “That would not be at all fair.”

The spay-and-neuter voucher program ended on March 31. Vanderkop said the government is planning to roll out a new program within the next month.

The government also contracted a dog catcher to patrol Ross River shortly after Herbert’s reports were published, Vanderkop said. But that contract was cancelled when it became clear that people were tying up their dogs whenever the dog catcher showed up in the community.

“As soon as they see the truck drive in, everybody knows,” she said. “When those activities bear no fruit, they are not going to be continued.”

Vanderkop said she doesn’t see a need for more resources to address stray dogs in rural communities like Ross River. “We have not heard that there is a demand that exceeds our capacity.”

Still, Herbert’s reports received the support of both the Ross River Dena Council and the Kaska Tribal Council. In 2011, after the program was halted, Ross River Chief Jack Caesar wrote a letter to then-Community Services minister Elaine Taylor in protest.

“The program’s advancement was frozen during the lead-in to the recent Yukon election,” he wrote. “Minister Taylor, will you please direct Community Services’ staff to move forward with the … program?”

This week, Herbert wrote a public email to Yukon’s chief coroner, in which he accused the Yukon government of having “shirked its responsibilities in regard to dog-related public health crises.”

In response, Macdonald wrote that she had read Herbert’s reports several times.

“I have written to the appropriate government department and requested a complete update regarding all the actions taken under the pilot program and where the program is at the moment,” she wrote.

She and Herbert aren’t alone in demanding action from the government.

NDP MLA Kevin Barr is also calling on the government to modernize the Dog Act, which hasn’t been updated since 2002. The act prohibits dogs from running at large in violation of local bylaws.

But Barr said the existing legislation doesn’t help unincorporated communities like Ross River to deal with dog problems, because they can’t create their own bylaws. As it stands, he said, the legislation is unenforceable.

He also said that under the existing legislation, the RCMP can’t step in to deal with problem dogs until they become violent.

“What we need to really do is revisit the Dog Act and do a full-on consultation with affected people that are living in communities that aren’t the same as municipalities,” he said.

But when Barr raised the issue in the legislative assembly this week, the Yukon government did not commit to revisiting the legislation.

“With regard to the specific act, no piece of legislation will solve all these problems,” Community Services Minister Currie Dixon said.

But Barr says that’s not good enough. “This isn’t something new that just happened. And so it’s fallen on deaf ears. There could have been more leadership by the government to move on this.”

In the wake of Glada’s death, the Ross River chief and council have agreed to form a working group and make eight to 10 recommendations for dealing with feral dogs. Macdonald hopes to see those recommendations within a few weeks.

Back in 2011, when Herbert’s reports were released, the News spoke with longtime Ross River resident Tim Moon. He was skeptical that the pilot program would lead to any change.

“Maybe when a kid gets chewed up,” he said at the time. “Hopefully it won’t come to that.”

Glada was 22.

Contact Maura Forrest at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An avalanche warning sigh along the South Klondike Highway. Local avalanche safety instructors say interest in courses has risen during the pandemic as more Yukoners explore socially distanced outdoor activities. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News file)
Backcountry busy: COVID-19 has Yukoners heading for the hills

Stable conditions for avalanches have provided a grace period for backcountry newcomers

Several people enter the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Coast High Country Inn Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Jan. 26. The Yukon government announced on Jan. 25 that residents of Whitehorse, Ibex Valley, Marsh Lake and Mount Lorne areas 65 and older can now receive their vaccines. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Vaccine appointments available in Whitehorse for residents 65+

Yukoners 65 and older living in Whitehorse are now eligible to receive… Continue reading

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read