Darin Daniels and his family went for a hike late last Monday afternoon near Edzo, N.W.T., and happened upon an unfortunate scene.
A white dog — Daniels thought it might have been a wolf at first — lay dead near a service road leading up Tower Hill, the prominent rocky outcrop visible across from North Arm Territorial Park just past Edzo.
When he got closer he saw it was a dog with a collar on. It had a red wound in its upper right shoulder.
"It looked like it got shot," Daniels said.
"Seeing this is kinda disturbing. Who would actually go out there and execute, maybe, a dog if it's theirs or somebody else's?"
Daniels posted an image of the dog to his Facebook account. The photo was later shared by Nicole Spencer, president of the NWT SPCA, on the organization's public Facebook page where it generated much discussion.
"People need to know that this happens," Spencer said.
"Dogs get shot a lot in the North for whatever reason. Also, there could be someone looking for their dog, and I would want to know if my dog were dead or what happened if it was missing."
Whatever the circumstances surrounding the animal's demise, Spencer said people across the North, particularly in remote communities, need to understand there are humane alternatives when it comes to dealing with a sick or unwanted pet.
"If the dog is sick, you can surrender the dog to us or you can surrender to a vet," Spencer said.
The NWT SPCA takes in approximately 600 pets every year, and has a standing arrangement with airlines to have animals flown in from the communities to the animal shelter in Yellowknife.
They have a "no-kill" policy, where only the sickest animals that have no reasonable hope of recovery are put down.
"We don't pay for people's medical bills," Spencer said. "But if they can't afford it, they can still send the dog in and we will take on the dog. So surrender the dog to us, we'll get it the best care and then we'll find it a new home."
Out of the approximately 600 animals a year they take in, Spencer estimates only six or seven need to be put down.
More options available
Spencer added that the SPCA has other programs to make it easier for pet owners in communities to manage their pets. For example, the SPCA will fly a pet in from a community for spay or neuter and vaccinations, and have the dog returned for $250, all costs included.
As for the SPCA's ability to investigate incidents like this, Spencer said that's not an option.
"A lot of people ask if the SPCA can do anything," Spencer said. "We don't have any authority. We couldn't put out an investigation. There's nothing we can do about this. It's in the hands of the RCMP if they can even investigate it."
The RCMP did not respond to requests for comment.
"I just want people to know this is still happening," Spencer said. "People are still shooting and neglecting dogs. It happens and there's an alternative."
For his part, Daniels made his original post in the same spirit.
"I just thought maybe somebody is missing a dog and they'll know it's theirs," Daniels said.