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City council discusses leasing and liability issues with Iqaluit Humane Society

Leasing and liability concerns pertaining to Iqaluit Humane Society were discussed by the councillors during a special City Council meeting on August 18.

Mayor Kenny Bell said he recently became aware that IHS does not currently hold a lease agreement with the city. “They're there on our city property for free,” he explained.

“They haven't had a lease since at least 2010,” said Bell, adding the exception was in 2012 for one year.

The mayor said this “historic problem” worries him for liability issues.

IHS has been in operation since 2007 and is run by Janelle Grace Kennedy. As Nunavut’s only animal shelter, the organization has been providing services for all communities in the territory.

When asked whether IHS would have the ability to pay rent, Kennedy said, “We run on donations.” It would ultimately depend on the amount of rent required. She added the rent money would have to be collected through fundraising.

Princess has not hurt any animal or human since 2018, says Janelle Grace Kennedy, the founder of the Iqaluit Humane Society. Photo courtesy of Janelle Grace Kennedy

Dangerous dogs are liabilities
Besides the lease agreement issue, the city lawyers have informed the council it is a liability to have a “dangerous” dog on city property.

Since October 2018, the IHS has been taking care of a dog named Princess, who has been designated as a “dangerous” dog by the Nunavut Court of Justice. Prior to being placed in the shelter, Princess had killed two dogs and attacked a human.

“We definitely want the dog gone from the city building,” said the mayor.

He added, “Sadly, removing the dog from the pound is likely sending it to its death.”

Kennedy, who was unaware that Princess had attacked a human, said the IHS will “fully co-operate” by removing the dog from the property and finding her a “proper setup.”

However, Councillor Sheila Flaherty believes dangerous dogs should be euthanized. “That's the most humane thing to do,” she said.

Iqaluit City Council has plans to tear down the Iqaluit Humane Society building “relatively soon,” says Mayor Kenny Bell. photo courtesy of Janelle Grace Kennedy

IHS building to be torn down
The mayor said the animal shelter is going to be torn down “relatively soon.”

Councillor Kyle Sheppard added, an agreement needs to be immediately put in place to satisfy liability concerns since the building is going to be coming down soon.

“I hope IHS does make plans ... so they can operate in some form when that does occur,” added Sheppard.

Kennedy said, “In the short term, if we were removed from the property, we would have nowhere to go, and neither would our animals.” The closure of the shelter would also mean laying off all the staff - 80 per cent of whom are Inuit, she added.

The one-hour meeting concluded with Deputy Mayor Janet Brewster making a motion for the city staff to work with IHS in order to establish a memorandum of understanding between the two parties. As well, to establish a one-year lease between the City of Iqaluit and IHS for the property the animal shelter is currently occupying.