Tuntutuliak wants all its stray dogs gone, so the traditional council is working with Bethel Friends of Canines and Alaskan Animal Rescue Friends to catch them all in a first-of-its-kind effort.
Jesslyn Elliott says that if you want to keep your dog in Tuntutuliak, lock it up.
"Keep it tied up or inside so we don’t think it’s a stray dog," Elliott said.
Elliott is coordinating an ambitious project with Bethel Friends of Canines and Alaskan Animal Rescue Friends. Volunteers will head to Tuntutuliak on Jan. 31 to remove all the stray dogs in the village and put them up for adoption.
Stray dogs are a well-known problem in villages. Theresa Quiner is the vice president of Bethel Friends of Canines, and is helping coordinate a spay/neuter clinic in Tuntutuliak that will be taking place the first week of March 2020.
"People don’t have ready access to spay/neuter services, so the inevitable result is that there’s a lot of puppies being born," Quiner said.
While Bethel Friends of Canines has removed stray dogs from villages before, the organization has never done anything on this scale. Quiner and Elliott say that the village's traditional council contacted them to remove the dogs. KYUK reached out to members of the council for comment, but they were unable to respond. Elliott says that it’s taking all kinds of partners, from airlines to veterinarians, to make this happen.
"I don’t know where we would be without Ravn and Grant; they help us out so much," Elliott said.
Ravn, Grant, and Northern Air Cargo are flying dog kennels in, and donating space to fly the stray dogs to Anchorage. Other volunteers will help vaccinate the animals, but it still requires a lot of money. The two organizations are using a fundraising website to help pay for the project. After being caught and vaccinated, only some of the dogs will find a home in Bethel. Most will head to Anchorage.
"It’s such a high volume of dogs that we’re expecting to bring in that we’ll probably ship most of them to our rescue partners in Anchorage," Quiner said.
But these aren’t the only efforts in place to aid dogs in rural Alaska. Last year, a grant from a non-profit provided support for veterinary care in Bethel and established a mobile clinic for villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
Quiner and Elliott say that other villages who wish to remove their stray dogs the way Tuntutuliak plans to do should contact Bethel Friends of Canines on its website or Facebook page.