A Canadian village has had to backtrack on their dog destroying plan as part of a “Dog Control Initiative,” after considerable backlash from Canadians in the community, and beyond. The village of La Loche, in Northern Saskatchewan initially shared their new plans to 'destroy' any free-roaming dogs on Facebook, however, the post was met with hundreds of comments from Canadians, urging them to consider alternative action.

The village of La Loche, Saskatchewan, is believed to have a considerable free-roaming dog problem, as both owned-pets and stray dogs frequent the streets. In an attempt to control this free-roaming population, the village announced on their Facebook page that they would be implementing a dog-culling initiative, whereby dogs found alone on the streets would be collected and ‘destroyed.’

The letter from the village, which was shared on Facebook, stated, “The Northern village of La Loche will be implementing Dog Control Initiative on July 23, 2019.” The post went on to say that “any free-roaming dogs will be destroyed.”

In order to avoid their pet dogs being accidentally killed, the letter advised residents to “tie up their dogs.” Should a family-pet be picked up, locals would be given a two-hour window to buy back their dog for $40, to save it from being ‘destroyed’.

The post was immediately met with overwhelming backlash from the public, with many people brandishing the cull as ‘inhumane’ and ‘cruel.’ Many comments offered advice and suggestions of alternative ways for the community to combat the stray dog problem.

Then just days before the cull was scheduled to begin, the mayor announced that any immediate plans had been cancelled, following the public outcry. In a statement, the mayor made it clear that the village was “not in the business of hurting animals,” but needed to make plans to control the dog population in the area.

He noted that the main priority was to protect the people in the community, as there had been an increase in dog bites in the village. Mayor St. Pierre was unable to provide statistics for dog-related incidents, but told Global News, “dog bites have increased in the last little while.”

He added, “The intention wasn’t to cull all dogs; just the problematic animals in the community that caused an increase in dog bites.”

It is not known how many dogs are roaming free in La Loche, and St. Pierre was unable to provide an estimate, saying, “I really don’t even want to speculate because I really don’t know.” 

In May, the village held a spay-neuter clinic in an attempt to take control of the dog population, a mission that St. Pierre described as “working but ongoing.” He noted that the general problem arises, not from responsible dog owners and pets, but from loose, free-roaming animals.

On Thursday afternoon, St. Pierre posted an updated notice on the La Loche Facebook page, that read “We’re correcting what we were initially going to do [to] provide a safe community.” He noted that the council would be giving the plans “further consideration,” and ended the statement by asking the public, “what do we do about that?”

St. Pierre told Global News that he was in the process of returning calls to those who put in offers to re-home the dogs.

It is not clear how exactly the dogs were going to be destroyed, but some comments on the original post suggest the dogs would have been shot. St. Pierre was unable to confirm or deny this.

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