Animal health team has 74 appointments during visit to Rankin Inlet

A team of animal health professionals visited Rankin Inlet and Baker Lake earlier this month from the Grant Park Animal Hospital in Winnipeg.

The veterinarian clinics were co-ordinated by Fire Chief Mark Wyatt of the Rankin Inlet Fire Department. It was the first time Wyatt helped coordinate a vet visit to Baker Lake.

Wyatt said the vets spent six days in Rankin Inlet before travelling to Baker Lake for four days.

While in Rankin, the team did 16 canine spays, 14 canine neuters, two feline spays, two feline neuters, 10 groomings and 30 appointments, according to Wyatt.

“We had a total of 74 different appointments in Rankin, so they were kept pretty busy,” he said.

“We still have a ways to go. There are still people here who don’t vaccinate their dogs and that’s the easiest thing you can do to prevent your dog from getting sick.

“Take your dog to make sure it’s properly vaccinated and then bring it back to get it done every two years.

“You can do that at the fire hall and it doesn’t cost any money. We are getting the message out more and more. But, still, I’ll see dogs that get parvovirus or distemper and, when I ask if the dog is vaccinated, I’ll be told no. And that’s why your dog is sick.”

Wyatt took over the clinic from Page Burt three years ago. Burt had coordinated the visit for a number of years in Rankin.

He said more and more people are asking to get their dog spayed or neutered now and that’s a huge step in the right direction.

“We had a few problem dogs in town, in terms of having three or four litters and they’re only three or four years old. I keep sending litters of puppies down south, or the puppies get scattered to homes all over town. But if we can spay enough of the dogs that are regularly tied up outside and getting pregnant, then we can start to control the dog population.

“It’s a never-ending cycle. People get puppies and then tie them up at the end of a chain, or just open the door and let them loose. As they get older, the dogs aren’t properly trained and they run loose.

“That leads to us having problems with loose dogs that we have to deal with. It’s an ownership problem. It’s not the dogs fault.

“Everybody then wants these dogs shot and I don’t blame the public for being frustrated by loose dogs. Some people leave their caribou on their qamutiik this time of year while they’re out hunting and loose dogs get into the caribou, causing all sorts of problems.”

Wyatt said if all dogs were vaccinated in the community, there would be far fewer sick animals.

And, he said, if dogs were spayed or neutered as soon as they’re old enough, there wouldn’t be any loose dogs in the community.

“We are making progress. We did 30 surgeries with dogs this time and that’s a lot.

“That’s 16 females that won’t be having any more puppies and 14 [male] dogs that won’t, potentially, be running around making those puppies.

“That will make a difference. We’ll be having another clinic from Oct. 3-9. Those who didn’t make the list this time will be first on the list next time.”

Darrell Greer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kivalliq News