Nunavut has no veterinarians or veterinarian services available for pets and sled dogs, and many people who have animals either make due by sending their pets to clinics down south when needed, giving them their own vaccines, or let nature take its course and hope for the best. This is unfortunate as many of the common illnesses (such as distemper, parvovirus, rabies and worms for canines), which are easily preventable with vaccination, often run rampant and the only solution is euthanasia (by gun or also known as the .25 cent solution). We unfortunately lost one of our dogs (Pee) in Cambridge Bay to distemper and know how horrible it can be – we did not get the shots in time to prevent the virus. For our two dogs that we have now, I’ve had to learn how to give them their shots and feed them de-worming tablets.
Fortunately for us, every year since 2009 a group of volunteers with the Canadian Animal Assistance Team come up to Baker Lake to provide free veterinary services to the community animals. Their goal is to spay and neuter as many cats and dogs in Baker Lake, vaccinate as many as possible and provide general checkups. They also provide other general surgical services that might be needed depending on the animal that is brought to the clinic. The program is run in conjunction with a local fundraising and animal welfare group, the Buddy Fund, that also generates community involvement throughout the year by holding fundraising events and boosts the vaccination clinics. Currently, this clinic in Baker Lake is only one of three communities in Nunavut that gets regular visits from veterinarians. The other communities are Rankin Inlet which receives annual visits from a vet team from Winnipeg, and Iqaluit, which has the newly openedNunaVet Animal Hospital. Cambridge Bay occasionally gets visits from vets through an organization called Diamonds in the Rough but the visits are very dependent on the funding that can be raised by the community and by the volunteers.
We were lucky that the veterinarians showed up when they did because Loka (our crazy dog) broke her canine tooth last week while we were camping. She and Jack (our other crazy dog) were hunting for sik-sik (Arctic ground squirrels) and had one cornered under a large rock when the rock came down on Loka’s muzzle, broke her upper left canine tooth in half with a crack to the root. The veterinarian saw her today and performed the surgery to pull her tooth. It was a bit stressful to see the surgery (yes, you can watch the surgeries that they perform) but she came out of procedure with flying colours and woke up quickly from the sedative and anesthetic, but is still suffering from the side effects from surgery. She’s dopey, wobbly, and woozy; it is kind of funny to watch, but we can’t help but feel badly for her too. She also has to wear the ‘cone of shame‘ as she occasionally scratches her muzzle and might pull her stitches. Anyone who has seen the movie Up will know about the ‘cone of shame‘. – Sophia