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Ross River’s gone to the dogs

ROSS RIVERFrom a distance the dog appeared to be brown and black.But the black patches weren’t fur — it was bare skin.


From a distance the dog appeared to be brown and black.

But the black patches weren’t fur — it was bare skin.

“That dog was let loose about a month ago, when its owners went away,” said a Ross River resident, standing in his doorway.

“That happens all the time here.”

Every so often the strays are rounded up and shot by the RCMP, he added.

The First Nation displays warning signs announcing the day loose dogs will be shot, so people tie up their dogs, he said.

The next day, they’re all free again.

When females go into heat, things can get ugly.

Dogs are killed in fights and most puppies are destroyed by the wild packs.

“Luckily nothing has happened to any kids,” said Ross River Dena Council deputy chief Jenny Caesar on Thursday.

Caesar didn’t think the council orders the dogs shot, but she wasn’t sure.

“I know they put up signs saying numerous dogs are running around, tie up your dogs,” she said.

“And the RCMP gets involved…

“I’m not sure if they’re shot,” she added.

“I never really look at the signs.”

Every year, the band puts out a notice that any loose dogs will be shot, said local animal lover Lynne Harris.

The RCMP goes around shooting them.

“But shooting them blames the dogs, and it’s not the dogs’ fault,” she said.

Outside with a plastic jug, Harris was refilling water bowls in her yard.

Nine dogs were jumping around, excited to see her.

“I came north with two dogs,” said Harris, while Andy stuffed his nose between her knees.

Andy’s from Mayo, she said, scratching his head.

“He had an unhappy life.”

Four of Harris’ hounds are strays from Ross River.

It’s an unincorporated community and there are no bylaws requiring owners to license, or spay/neuter their pets, she said.

“A lot of owners don’t recognize their responsibility once the dogs are no longer cute and cuddly,” added Harris.

Outside the Dena General Store a young girl was walking around snuggling a tiny blue-eyed puppy.

Lying in the dirt by the parked trucks were at least half a dozen dogs.

Chained dogs aren’t necessarily better cared for, said Harris.

“Many are not walked, fed, exercised regularly or even sheltered.”

Harris found another of her strays starving.

“Kids see a puppy, fall in love and after it grows up they just let it go,” said Caesar.

In March, the First Nation brought a vet to the community to hold a spay/neuter clinic.

“I did my dogs,” said Caesar, who wasn’t sure how many animals were brought in.

At the end of April, Sandy Trerice spotted a sickly looking dog stumbling across a street in Ross River.

The Faro resident, who works in Ross, has rescued several dogs.

This one was so emaciated it looked like it had a big tumour on its side, she told the News in a previous interview.

The tumour turned out to be the dog’s ribs.

It would have been lucky to live three more days, she said.

Trerice called the RCMP. But the officers didn’t recognize the dog, and were surprised the wolves hadn’t eaten it.

The dog weighed a mere 12 kilograms when she was rescued and was so dehydrated she needed an IV.

She was literally just skin and bones, said Trerice, who fed her chicken noodle soup.

The dog could only go for short walks, because she was so weak, and in deep snow, she fell over.

In the spring a person, who asked to remain anonymous because they work in various communities, called the News.

The person had just been chased by a pack of nine dogs in Ross River.

The dogs had just torn up another dog in front of a bunch of kids, the caller said.

Dogs die all the time in the community, said Harris.

“People have got to start taking action,” added Caesar.

“The community should be responsible.”