Spay Neuter Inclusion Program
The NWT SPCA is in need of many things, but in the forefront of our minds is the immediate need for a low or no cost spay/neuter program. A low or no cost spay/neuter clinic would remove barriers for those pet owners who have faced hardships or challenges trying to get their animals spayed/neutered. A clinic that is focused on lessening the hardships and removing barriers will go a long way in addressing the issues of overpopulation in our small communities along with decreasing the numbers of stray, abandoned, neglected and abused animals. Spay Neuter Assistance Programs (SNAP) are well-recognized frameworks in the animal welfare community and they are enduring programs across Canada due to the positive impact they have on reducing the number of unwanted animals in communities. The goal of the NWT SPCA's Spay Neuter Inclusion Program (SNIP) is to reduce the pressures placed on our Northern communities from the homeless pet population by offering support to community members who may need a little extra help, financially and logistically, to spay or neuter their animals. This is done by offering low cost or no cost spay/neuter surgeries. Citizens of all 33 communities within the NWT, along with communities in western Nunavut, who qualify can apply to have their dog(s) and/or cat(s) spayed/neutered through the NWT SPCA's Spay Neuter Inclusion Program. What makes this program uniquely valuable in the North is that it addresses the added complexity of transportation faced by our residents. The remote locations of our communities greatly impact the ability of pet owners to access veterinary care. The only option available to some communities is to fly into Yellowknife in order to receive veterinary care, which is cost prohibitive in many instances. What makes the NWT SPCA's Spay Neuter Inclusion Program stand out from other SNAP programs is the inclusion of transportation costs for animals from eligible communities.
Who Will it Benefit?
The benefits of this program are far-reaching and will positively impact all community members and groups in the NWT and western Nunavut, including community governments, individuals and families, pet guardians, shelters/pounds and, most importantly, the animals themselves. Community impact is multi-faceted and far reaching. Stray, feral dogs resulting from unwanted litters of puppies have negative impacts on the health and wellness of communities due to the safety risks in the form of dog bites and exposure to disease, such as rabies. Well-loved and cared for family pets can also contribute to the problem of increased and unwanted litters of puppies due to lack of access to affordable spay/neuter clinics. Another challenge unique to the North is that, aside from Yellowknife, there are no other locations in the entirety of the Northwest Territories where veterinary clinics are located. Remote communities mainly rely on a dedicated team of volunteer veterinarians and technicians to provide limited outreach veterinary clinics that are offered on a rotational basis. This makes it imperative to focus on providing regular, low barrier veterinary care to those communities who are most vulnerable. While the NWT SPCA strives to assist each and every community in the NWT and western Nunavut with their stray and unwanted dogs, it is becoming increasingly challenging for the shelter to accept all requests for help due to physical limitations of the shelter and our ability to house every animal in need. Our deserving shelter animals need care from amazing human beings and, like everywhere else these days, it is a major challenge to recruit and retain staff members and volunteers to care for these wonderful creatures. The influx of animals that come to the shelter all require some level of veterinary care, mainly vaccinations, deworming and spaying/neutering. Our veterinary resources in the North are stretched thin, with only 3 veterinary clinics supporting the entire territory. SNIP would go a long way in alleviating some of the pressures put on our dedicated animal hospital partner and the other valuable veterinary practitioners of the North. Lastly, we must remember that dogs and cats are sentient beings capable of experiencing fear, pain, stress, hunger and thirst. By offering SNIP, we are ultimately working towards decreasing the instances these negative impacts are felt by the animals in our communities. Companion animals of the North deserve no less.