I mentioned a few weeks ago that Iqaluit has a dog problem and, well, here’s all the proof you need of the problem and the attitudes in town about it. The story itself is fairly interesting and while I normally tell people to never, ever read the comments section, this is worth it if only to show the attitudes of some people in town. A few people insult and attack Annabella Piugattuk using some fairly brutal language (some of those comments have since been removed). Then again, there's also a lot of anti-qaalunat sentiment brewing there that never fails to disturb me.
I swear to god, this town sometimes…
Do I agree with what she’s saying in the story? Not all of it. I think trying to ban all non-husky breeds is…misguided. Understandable, but misguided.
Look, Annabella just went through a horrific event. Some lunatic trained a pit bull to attack people, waved it around like it was a gun and then finally unleashed it to attack. She was brutally savaged for 20 minutes. Her small kids saw the attack happen and were traumatized by it. Coming out the other end of something like that you either curl up into a ball and never want to think about it again, or you’re going to make damn sure nothing like that can ever happen again. So good for her for speaking out. I think it’s commendable.
But trying to ban non-husky breeds from Nunavut. No, that’s not going to work. Although technically she does have a bit of a leg to stand on. If I recall from my Department of Environment days Nunavut does have legislation in place to ban all non-native species from the territory. There might be an argument to be made that any kind of dog other than traditional Inuit sled dogs should be prohibited.
(It’s a sure thing that cats, hamsters, snakes, tropical birds and other critters I know people in town have shouldn’t be here by that definition.)
But the problem is that ship has sailed. Non-sled dogs have been coming here for decades and it’s been a flood in the last decade. And those dogs have often bred, hence the “Iqaluit specials” – part husky, part whatever – that are often seen running around town. Such a ban is impossible. Besides, it’s not just non-Inuit who like dogs other than huskies. I’ve seen my share of Inuit babying their shi tzus. Good luck trying to get them to give those dogs up.
The city is going to have some consultations in the fall and I suspect the quick and dirty solution is going to be to ban pit bulls. I don’t really agree with that. It’s the human that’s the problem in 95 per cent of cases, not the dog. I’d like to see much stricter restrictions on owning dogs. I mentioned on Twitter about creating a two-tier ownership system. One for “regular” breeds, the other for “at risk” breeds. “Regular” breeds get a pretty straight forward licencing process. “At risk” would be much more stringent.
For one thing, you would need a special, and expensive, import permit to bring such a dog in. You would need proof that the dog had obedience training before it was allowed in the territory. Owners would be required to take a class in Iqaluit on the proper handling and care of these kinds of dogs. Any kind of incident involving those dogs leads to the dog being seized and a heavy fine for the owner. Those kinds of things.
Here’s the catch, though. I would list huskies in that category. Most of the dog related incidents in town, and the territory, aren’t from pit bulls. They’re from huskies. I think I have a reasonable idea there, but good luck getting anyone to go along with listing huskies as an “at risk” breed and require additional precautions before you’re allowed to own one. People would riot.
The city is looking at doing something, and it’s a start. But most of it is going to be with the people who own the dogs, and not the dogs themselves. That’s going to take a fairly significant public awareness campaign, including involving schools on what’s involved in taking care of your pets. And it will take years to accomplish. Plus stricter regulations. I think it’s necessary, but there are so many necessary things up here, I’m not sure if this will actually happen. I guess we’ll see...
1. E. Watson - The Decemberists
2. Rolling in the deep - Adele
3. Both hands (live) - Ani DiFranco*
4. Family tree - TV on the Radio
5. Pomegranate daffodil - Hawksley Workman