WORKSHOP: Humane Indigenous Community Development: Participatory Methods for Dog Management


Janice Hannah, Senior Education and Research Specialist & Northern Dogs Project Manager, International Fund for Animal Welfare
Kate Nattrass Atema, Director, Global Community Animal Welfare Program, International Fund for Animal Welfare

***PLEASE NOTE: Diana Webster, Esq. of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, President/CEO, The Native America Humane Society, is not longer able to speak due to illness***


The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)’s unique Humane Indigenous Community Development (HICD) framework supports communities by helping them to understand, and begin to address, concerns about dogs in their communities. By understanding dog issues, communities can improve animal health and welfare now and in the future. IFAW believes that both the causes of mismanaged dog populations and their solutions lie in the value that the community places on the animals, quality and clarity of information, the connection between human and animal health and the power of communities to manage the issues that concern them. Conventionally, NGOs concerned about animal health and welfare have worked to improve the welfare of dogs and cats through direct interventions, such as building shelters, providing veterinary services or grant funding. While these initiatives can do a great deal to help people, animals and communities, they are most often sustained with external donor support and service provision, which can leave communities without the security of sustainable funding sources or program capacity that can adapt to changing situations. HICD is a facilitated process based on participatory methods that focuses on empowering communities to generate momentum and understanding that leads to strategies for compassionate, sustainable and long-term improvements for animals and people.

This workshop will take participants through the practice (and some theory) of bringing diverse community stakeholders together to address issues of human health, safety, education and social concern surrounding the management, or mismanagement, of dogs and cats in their community. While focusing on the symptoms and causes of roaming community animals, elements of the workshop can be applied to many community contexts where discussion, debate and, ultimately, consensus are required for progress. Emphasis on culturally-important ways of knowing and using information are central to the design and application of the workshop.


  1. Participants will understand the use of Participatory Approaches in creating community understanding around dog issues in their community.
  2. Participants will become familiar with some of the exercises of the HICD workshop.
  3. Participants will have access to the pilot-tested HICD resource.


The Native America Humane Society (NAHS) was formed after Diana Webster received a call from her cousin on a reservation in northern Minnesota to ask why she saw Diana volunteering to help dogs in Mexico on Facebook and not helping reservation or "rez" dogs. Diana, a California attorney, knew from her family and from her work with tribal justice systems at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute that Native people on reservations and in urban communities still lacked access to resources and help for their families and their pets despite recent economic development through gaming. With NAHS, she works to empower Tribal nations and Native communities in humanely managing their animals while acknowledging their tribal sovereign rights, traditions and culture, and the competing social challenges that still impact human health, safety and happiness.

In her dual role as Senior Education and Research Specialist & Northern Dogs Project Manager, Janice Hannah is responsible for developing, monitoring and evaluating the International Fund for Animal Welfare’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, Jan 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 in 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, which 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.

Jan holds an Honours BSc in Wildlife Biology from the University of Guelph, and a Master's in Education and Teaching Certificate from Niagara University.

Read our interview with Janice Hannah here.

Kate Nattrass Atema is Director of the global Community Animals Program at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), comprised of community-based animal welfare projects and disaster response teams across six continents. She also currently serves as Chairperson of the International Companion Animal Management Coalition (ICAM). Kate’s work at IFAW focuses on the development of innovative strategies for community engagement in animal welfare, focusing on the intersection of community welfare, animal welfare and wildlife conservation. When she’s not traveling to work with extraordinary people all over the world, Kate enjoys being at home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts with her husband, two young(ish) sons and a dog who likes to sing along to ‘O Canada’.