THUNDER BAY – Indigenous Leadership, municipal representatives and animal advocates are gathering for the very first Northwestern Ontario Regional Animal Summit being held in Thunder Bay on March 29th and 30th. The summit is being hosted by the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society, with a common goal to serve more animals and communities in the North while building animal wellness capacity.
“For several years there has been a strong desire to come together to discuss how we can all work better together for the animals. Over the next two days summit attendees will share insights and ideas, and ultimately create customized action plans to support the North,” says Daryl Vaillancourt, Ontario SPCA, Humane Programs and Community Outreach. “The Ontario SPCA continues to encourage Northern communities to collaborate on a proactive and effective approach.”
To bring awareness and action to the Northern dog population, 2018 was marked the ‘Year of the Northern Dog’ by the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society, and the organization implemented a public awareness campaign that brought attention to the animal wellness challenges and barriers in the North. The campaign has since evolved into an impactful initiative titled ‘Support the North’.
“Ontario SPCA has seen an increased awareness of the issues surrounding animal overpopulation, however, there is still a lot of work to be done as it continues to be a major challenge across Canada. A lack of basic animal wellness services has created an abundance of dogs in the North, who all need resources and support. At the Northern Ontario Regional Animal Summit, we will hear about these hardships our neighbours in the North contend with on a daily basis, including the cost of food supplies and equipment for general care of animals, and collaborate on solutions and action items to help overcome difficulties. We can all play an important role in making lives better,” continues Vaillancourt.
Last year alone, over 550 dogs and cats were relocated and adopted from Northern communities while several spay and neuter clinics and animal wellness services were delivered in 30 Northern indigenous communities.
‘United in creating healthy communities for animals and people’ is the theme of the Northwestern Ontario Regional Animal Summit. Participants include First Nation community Chiefs and Council members, community members, Animal Rescues, Spay/Neuter groups, Law Enforcement Officers, Humane Society and SPCA staff, veterinarians, teachers, health professionals, government representatives and more.
“Ontario SPCA and Humane Society is honoured to see such a tremendous response to the summit. All representatives joining us bring a wide variety of skills, insights and resources to help support animals and people. This is the first time we are all coming together on a larger platform to discuss the future of animal wellness in the North and embark on crucial conversations and collaboration for the future,” says Judy Decicco, a northern volunteer and Ontario SPCA Humane Society Board Member.