The Peterborough Humane Society (PHS) and the Ontario Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) are working with a number of Indigenous groups to deal with dog overpopulation on some of the northern reserves. Last Friday, 58 community dogs from Big Trout First Nation, a community about 500 kilometers from Thunder Bay, were flown in to Peterborough Airport to be placed in various shelters in southern Ontario. Eventually these dogs will be available for adoption.

“By using the Peterborough Airport to transfer dogs from Big Trout Lake in the community proves that together, with all of our supporters and partners, we can lead the future of Animal Welfare right here in Peterborough,” says Geoff MacPhee, Board Chair of the Peterborough Humane Society.

Andrew Fraser, executive director of PHS, mentions that these Indigenous
communities recognize the need for there to be some support in controlling their pet populations. “Individuals in these communities are very caring and connected towards their animals and it is an honour to be accepted into these Indigenous communities to allow us to offer support” Fraser says.

Photos by Mauricio Interiano

After arriving at the Peterborough Airport the dogs were triaged by a team of volunteers from across the province, including veterinarians and veterinary technicians. Once cleared for further transport, the dogs were brought to the Peterborough Humane Society, the North Bay & District Humane Society, Welland & District Humane Society, and Quinte Humane Society to be placed in their adoption program.

“It’s been a real pleasure to work with the Big Trout Lake First Nation community and we commend them for taking the lead in establishing this transfer and being leaders in animal welfare,” says Judi Cannon, Associate Director, Indigenous Programs & Community Outreach, Ontario SPCA.

As PHS moves forward with the building of a new facility, they are also hoping to keep collaborating with this type of program. The city has already agreed to to donate $1.5M over five years to support the construction of the new $9.5M facility. It is planned to be built on 20 acres of land on Technology Drive.

Established in 1941, the Peterborough Humane Society is a registered charity that depends on public donations. They are affiliated to the Ontario SPCA facilitating and providing for the prevention of cruelty to animals and their relief. Their current facility on Lansdowne Street is 60 years old and it does not have sufficient space to quarantine sick animals, for investigation or other services. There is a clear need for expansion.

It will be a unique building that will host three important animal welfare programs. The Peterborough Humane Society Shelter, Adoption and Education Center, and a clinic to prove high volume regional spay and neuter services and the first ever

Ontario SPCS Dog Rehabilitation Center. This new rehab center hopes to help
injured and problematic canines. It will have an aqua therapy pool, outdoor spaces and family living settings to help rescued animals adapt to residential spaces. The facility will also feature a large adoption center and with a lot of public viewing of most services for tourist and potential fosterers.

Construction is planned to start in spring of next year. The new facility
promises to offer more volunteer and employment opportunities. At the same time, it will enhance an educational partnership with Trent University and Fleming College. Says Fraser, “There will be more potential to accommodate students for placements, environmental research, training and educational programs for animal caregivers in rural indigenous welfare, genetic research on animal diseases.”