Roaming dogs attacking people in Natuashish, as council works on solution

·4 min read

A woman who was attacked by a group of dogs that she says has been menacing people in Natuashish wants action before someone is more seriously injured, while the community council says it is looking at how best to deal with the problem.

Edith Rich was outside her mother's house, greeting her daughter's dog, when she said five other dogs appeared and started acting aggressive.

"They started barking at me, like growling, and I kept walking towards my mom's front door, and that's when they started attacking me," Rich says.

One of the bigger dogs bit her leg, latching onto and yanking at her, while another dog started jumping up on her back.

"They put me on the ground, and I hid my face and my neck and then I try to stand up. I almost gave up I was so scared of them, and then I [stood] up and then run into my mom's house yelling, scared," said Rich.

Rich said she had two bites on her knee that needed treatment, and she had to get six injections to protect against rabies and infections — and she knows she's not the only person attacked.

They're walking around like a wolf pack or something like that. - Edith Rich

When she was being treated, Rich said the nurses told her there were other people in the community who also recently needed to be treated for dog bite wounds.

Aside from attacks, Rich said the dogs have been causing other problems for people in the community.

"That dog that bit me always steal groceries at the store," she said, adding that the dogs will purloin groceries from people as they leave the store.

"He would steal pizza or bread or anything like that, food."

'The problem is there'

It's a situation John Nui, the Innu chief in Natuashish, said council has heard about from multiple people, and they're trying to address as soon as possible.

"I got a call from the nurses themselves and they were a bit concerned, telling me that this was probably the sixth time that we had to treat a person with a dog bite. But before that, there were people concerned about the dogs and being attacked and I hear stories about people that went to the store and dogs were grabbing their groceries and running off with it," Nui said.

"But ever since the call from the nurses we have made arrangements to talk to my CSOs [community safety officers] and there are concerns coming from the councillors themselves, too. So the problem is there."

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Nui said council is speaking with the SPCA in Happy Valley-Goose Bay about the possibility that some of the stray dogs could be flown out to receive care and attention in a place with more resources.

In previous years, veterinarians visited isolated Labrador communities to provide spaying and neutering in an effort to quell the stray dog population.

That's something Nui said council will also consider looking at for the summer months.

But not all of the dogs are strays, Nui said; some of the dogs causing the problems actually belong to people, but are left unleashed to roam the area.

Another option he said council is considering is having dog training and education brought into the community.

Nui said having some of the dogs put down may be another option they're forced to consider, but that's something that would need to be discussed further with community elders.

"I think the best option is to send them out somewhere they'll be cared for and where they'll be looked after," Nui said.

"I know that there are a lot of dogs in our community — I have three of them myself — but I think more dogs, more concerns. So it might be better if we can make arrangements to fly them out."

Meanwhile, Rich said she's worried what will happen if the dogs continue to get more aggressive.

"I'm so scared if the kids were attacked by those dogs," she said.

"A lot of people are scared of dogs now. They're walking around like a wolf pack or something like that."

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