CN Rail crews came upon a disturbing site on Mar. 18. At the side of a bridge outside of Runnymede, they discovered 11 dead dogs, discarded at the side of the tracks.
Rail supervisor Alex Husak was one of the people who discovered the dogs. Doing a track inspection, they saw something on the side of the tracks. When they got closer, they saw what it was.
“We just looked at each other in disgust, and both said at the same time, ‘dogs.’”
Husak had recently had to put down two dogs, one due to illness and the other due to an accident, and he couldn’t imagine what could have happened.
“Everybody is disturbed around here working for the railway, driving by and having to see this.”
The question in his mind, how did the dogs get there?
The problem began on the Cote First Nation. Darlene Bryant, Director of Health for the Cote First Nation, said that they have an issue with stray dogs on the reserve, stemming from people abandoning their animals in the area.
“It’s not, per se, our dogs. The Cote First Nation has been a dumping ground for unwanted dogs for a long time... It’s not uncommon to see a dog there that’s new, and nobody knows where it came from.”
The problem with stray dogs on the First Nation had become a health problem, as they ran the risk of harming young kids, said Bryant.
“Our children couldn’t even walk to the youth centre without the dogs attacking them or scaring them. The potential to have a child mauled was high, so we had to take matters into our own hands and try to eliminate some of the dogs.”
They hired a contractor who was supposed to humanely and properly dispose of the dogs. The contractor disposed of the dogs first at a location in Cote near a lagoon. He was asked to dispose of the dogs properly, Bryant said, instead of leaving them by the lagoon in Cote.
“He said he was going to dispose of them. I had no idea he was taking them that way and disposing of them there.”
The contractor will not be used again by Cote, and Bryant said that the incident has caused them to revisit how they handle the stray dogs on the reserve. They are planning to work to partner with an animal welfare organization such as the SPCA to deal with the stray dogs and hopefully find homes for the majority. They hope to learn from the incident and make positive changes.
“This matter has opened up our eyes to what can happen.”
The First Nation will handle the proper disposal of the dogs, and Bryant expected it to be complete by Wednesday, April 3.
According to the Kamsack RCMP no charges will be laid in the incident.