Building Humane and Sustainable Dog Management Programs with Canadian First Nations

Jan Hannah, Senior Education and Research Specialist & Northern Dogs Project Manager,
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

Dog population management is an issue in many First Nations communities across Canada. Since 2002, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Northern Dogs Project has been working with First Nations communities to assist them in developing humane and lasting programs that help them with their dogs – both individually and on a dog population level.

Animal welfare individuals and NGOs can play an important role in guiding and supporting community dog management strategy, with help and responsibility for dog population management ultimately remaining within the community. While the composition and size of each dog population varies, creating a comprehensive program that focuses on causes of god related issues rather than symptoms can lead to long term, community driven success.

IFAW believes that working with First Nations communities to create dog management plans that build on dialogue and data can lead to healthy, balanced companion animal populations that ensure dogs do not become a threat to public health and safety. Because of the wide differences in communities’ expectations, practices and capacity, by engaging the community from the beginning NGOs (and communities can lay the foundations for a sustainable solution, rather than a tool-driven intervention based on outside influences.

In this presentation, we look at improving humane dog population guidance and practices in First Nations communities using principles from the International Companion Animal Management Coalition (ICAM) and participatory approaches developed by IFAW’s Humane Community Development work.

Key learnings:
1. The benefits of working with First Nations communities to build successful dog management programming.
2. How to build interventions based on root causes rather than symptoms of dog issues in First Nations communities.
3. How to put thinking about a dog management program into a plan.


Jan Hannah
In her dual role as IFAW Senior Education and Research Specialist & Northern Dogs Project Manager, Janice Hannah is responsible for developing, monitoring and evaluating IFAW's companion animal projects in Canada and providing guidance for IFAW's education initiatives both in Canada and internationally. In her twenty years at IFAW, Janice has worked in numerous program areas including marine mammal science and education, Animal Action Education, emergency relief, policy, and wildlife trade. Jan's focus on companion animal welfare merges her long-term interest of working with animals and communities with the objective of building humane and sustainable programs that improve the health and welfare of animals through education and community engagement. Outreach, advice, community development and service provision are cornerstones to IFAW's work that provides contextual and culturally relevant solutions to local issues. Jan develops and manages community projects on the ground as well as advising and working on companion animal policy, programming and issues internationally. During the past few years she has worked on IFAW companion animal population management and rabies eradication projects as well as in-community animal welfare capacity development around the world.