The Canadian Animal Assistance Team (CAAT) has been working with Indigenous communities since 2006 to provide assistance with animal welfare plans through its spay/neuter and wellness clinics. As an organization, CAAT has evolved through the years and we have shared knowledge with and learned from our Indigenous community hosts. CAAT knows that its spay/neuter clinics are only ONE of the components in animal welfare management. There are so many other important components that need to be understood to create a long term, sustainable animal welfare plan.
There is great diversity between communities. Each one needs to be approached with respect and caring for the humans as well as the animals. Collaboration and investment are key. Collaboration and cooperation between animal welfare organizations, volunteer veterinary groups, humane education teachers, legislative bodies, Indigenous leaders and community members is key. To assist in the creation of an animal welfare plan, we first need to listen and learn from the community itself. What do they see as the local animal welfare issues, what barriers do they face, etc. Once we know this, we can then provide a network of contacts to work with the leaders to provide information for the different aspects involved in an animal welfare plan. It may include creation of by-laws and how to enforce them, humane education, spay/neuter plans, etc.
Providing connections with groups who bring a specific knowledge base to the effort will enable the community leaders to create their own animal welfare program. It is an investment in sustainability.