The Iqaluit Humane Society has purchased the old NunaVet Animal Hospital (building 3070) in Iqaluit’s Apex neighbourhood and is currently renovating it into a centre for animal care and shelter.
Last summer, NunaVet closed its doors, shuttering the doors of Nunavut’s only veterinary clinic.
That continued to be the case until late last year, when the Eric S. Margolis Foundation came in to help the Iqaluit Humane Society and to make this a reality.
“Just before Christmas, we found out they were willing to make a significant donation to our organization,” said Janelle Kennedy, president of the Iqaluit Humane Society board of directors, just as the old NunaVet building was available to purchase.
“Our long-term plan is we’ll have a vet clinic, other pet services as well as an on-site manager and animal rescue running out of that building,” she added.
However there’s a lot of work ahead for them, the society has two years of renovations planned, with the first phase of renovations is expected to be finished by the end of October this year.
First, the planned veterinary clinic, which the Humane Society is planning to open first and then the second year of renovations will be on the shelter side of things.
“A lot of the renovations have to do with upgrading plumbing, fixtures, but one of the big things is the building is located in a residential area. In order to be successful, we have to be good neighbours, we want to make sure we minimize noise, disturbance, traffic, all of those things are on our mind,” said Kennedy.
Building proper fencing, soundproofing the building and being a good neighbour are all things the Humane Society is taking into consideration with the building being in a residential area.
The demand is there for a veterinary clinic in Nunavut’s capital, noted Kennedy. When she was planning a travelling clinic for May they were planning for five days in Pond Inlet and five days in Iqaluit and the Humane Society was looking for home-stays for the veterinary team while in Iqaluit.
“Two people wrote to me about homestays, and I recorded 37 messages that day of people asking for an appointment. I had to tell people, I just need the rooms first and I’ll let you know about appointments. Just in that few hours I posted I had 37 requests for appointments,” she said. “Yeah, I think there’s a huge demand.”
Plans for hub
The Humane Society hopes to have the new building to serve as a hub for keeping mobile equipment ready and accessible for travelling veterinary clinics going to communities outside of Iqaluit.
“Now that we have the building, the vet clinic (will) definitely be a better hub for doing more regular community visits,” said Kennedy.
Grooming, boarding, pet supplies and training are all services the Society hopes to host at their new building. Kennedy notes there’s at least a few pet groomers and trainers in Iqaluit they would love to work with.
“All of our activities should culminate in being some sort of one-stop shop where we can do everything we’ve already been doing for the last 20 years but to be able to expand our services so we can have a complete pet wellness centre,” said Kennedy.
In line with these goals, they’re also in the process of changing their name to Nunavut Animal Rescue, while not official yet, it’s something they’ve been basically working toward since starting the Iqaluit Humane Society, holding or supporting spay and neuter clinics in multiple communities since opening up over 20 years ago, from Qikiqtarjuaq, Iglulik, Kimmirut, Resolute Bay, and Pangnirtung.
Since September 1, 2021, the Iqaluit Humane Society has had to make do without a shelter. Between not having buildings, the Iqaluit Humane Society continued rescue efforts, depending on foster homes for dogs received by the city, Iqaluit residents or nearby communities.
From hosting multiple foster dogs in her own home, to soon having a newly renovated, bigger building is something she didn’t think would be possible. “I never thought we would be here. We never imagined a foundation would be so incredibly generous. They’ve been following us for years and they really see what we do for Nunavut,” said Kennedy, praising the Eric S. Margolis Foundation.
“We are all very hopeful and we think there’s a bright future ahead but it’s going to take a village, we can’t do it all on our own.”