Stray dogs and cats are one of the most critical animal-related problems we face in Lake County and on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Without any other shelters in the area, without Animal Control, and without law enforcement authority over stray animals (with the sole exception of accident emergencies), MVAS is the most important player in addressing this problem.
There are several reasons why the stray problem is a health and safety priority:
Strays are in danger of being hit by cars
Strays can pose a threat to human (especially child) safety
Strays are often disease vectors, especially with the prevalence of parvo (a serious, often lethan viral canine disease) on the reservation.
Strays are often unsterilized and contribute to the pet overpopulation
Strays (especially unneutered strays) often fight and injure each other on the streets
Strays can fall prey to other animals, especially in rural Western Montana
Strays can, and sadly sometimes do, get shot
With this in mind, we are developing a vision and programs to address these problems. The solutions for dogs vs. cats are distinct and different:
We have a two-pronged strategy for addressing the stray dog problem:
1. To increase our capacity to take in stray animals (through expansion of our facility, our staff, our protocol and our foster program)
2. To establish volunteer Advisory Councils on Community Canines (ACCCs) in several local communities that will boost collaboration with community members to address the stray dog problem.
Our strategy for addressing the stray cat problem is developing a trap and release free spay/neuter clinic program starting in mid to late 2019. You can find more details about our plans here.
The Advisory Councils on Community Canines are being established in May 2018. Initially four councils will serve St. Ignatius, Ronan, Pablo and Arlee - communities where serious stray problems have been identified. We will ultimately look at other communities as well.
We are recruiting to have 5-6 volunteer members on each Council. These members would meet periodically with our Executive Director and come up with action plans to help canines in need in their respective communities. Council members would be assigned specific roles (e.g., liaison with local law enforcement, liaison with local housing committees, liaison with local veterinarians, liaison with local schools, etc.) depending upon their personal interests and strengths. Council members would be available as known contacts for local community members in case of stray related emergencies. Council members would work closely with the MVAS Executive Director to help respond to these emergencies. The primary responsibilities for members would be to help MVAS build positive relationships within the community, help expand communication channels and help identify needs.