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EDITORIAL: A million dollar mission

Known also as the Nunavut Animal Shelter, the Iqaluit Humane Society (IHS) is the only organization of its kind in the territory.

It has been serving the needs of unwanted and surrendered animals since 2007 and now it needs a new home.

They are in a similar struggle to those of animal shelters across the country, where funding options are limited and not much is forthcoming from municipal or territorial sources.

The shelter provides a temporary home for many animals that would otherwise end up disposed of, to put it gently. Dealing with companion animal overpopulation has often had to be taken care of in the most brutally efficient manner possible. This has been a longtime reality in the North. The shelters operating in the territorial capitals that fly dogs out of the smaller communities either to homes in the larger centres or to partner organizations in the south are critical to preventing the deaths of these animals. 

Neuter clinics that are offered and facilitated by IHS have "dramatically" reduced the numbers of dogs being sent to Iqaluit and are just one of their many funding requirements.

Right now the humane society has a Go Fund Me fundraiser active as a way to address their core funding requirements – chief among those a new building to replace the one that is slated to be torn down in spring or summer of 2021. If ongoing mould issues weren't enough to close the building down, the lack of space would have forced the society out in time.

As of press time they've raised more than $100,000 in donations for their Million Dollar Mission toward a new building.

They've also applied to the Arctic Inspiration Prize, not only as a way to keep the society afloat, but to transform it into a holistic business offering services such as grooming, training, boarding and educational opportunities for school groups.

All of these things are necessary services in a society that strives to do good by those who don't have voices for themselves. Unfortunately, those needs don't exist inside a vacuum. There are an extraordinary number of competing needs in a territory that boasts a 29 per cent poverty rate with an infrastructure gap that continues to grow exponentially.

Companies like Canadian North, who have historically flown dogs from communities to Iqaluit free of charge, have been a lifeline for IHS but with pandemic-related uncertainty facing these Northern airlines that support could be threatened.

There is limited space – in previous interviews, president of IHS Janelle Kennedy stated three to seven new animals are brought to the shelter weekly.

"There is only so long we can hold an animal before we have to do something else with it. We try to make sure people understand if we didn't exist, the alternative is much more grim."

Not knowing whether or not there will be enough funds to keep the doors open each month is inhumane for a society that devotes so much to address what would otherwise be an out-of-control situation.

The shelter needs all the support that can be mustered.