Blackfeet Reservation Facing Cultural Dilemma over Animal Control

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Blackfeet Reservation Facing Cultural Dilemma over Animal Control

By KFBB.com

Another part of the Blackfeet dog trouble is a lack of money. Spay and neuter clinics have been successful in the past but some say the cost to fix their pet is hard to justify, when money is tight. Officer Higgins says, "You know, would you rather eat or have your dog neutered?"

With an abundance of dogs roaming the streets each day, the city of Browning is facing a cultural dilemma over animal control on the reservation. The Blackfeet people have a deep love for their dogs that goes back many years, but the current living conditions of the animals on the reservation is causing concern.

Once the protector of the camp, the Blackfeet Nation dog once carried the burdens of the people, guarded their camps and were allowed to roam free, but now the dogs are living in a modern day society. The reservation is looking to take a new approach to animal control this year, while keeping the cultural beliefs in tact at the same time.

Darrell Kipp, Director of the Piegan Institute, is helping new mayor Lockley Bremner determine what changes need to be made. He says, "We're talking about a time when there were no streets, no technology. Today it's a different situation. We have to use modern day approached to be friends with the dog."

Today, many stray dogs roam the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, some limping, others so hungry they are forced to dig through the trash for food. New mayor Lockley Bremner says, "We've become immune to the atrocities that the animals face here in Browning. I'm not innocent, you know, I've neglected it myself."

Bremner has only been mayor of Browning since January, but he says the lack of animal control has been neglected for far too long. Its something Office Wayne Higgins sees firsthand everyday during his patrols.

Higgins says, "I've removed a lot of animals off the highway that have been run over. It's pretty disturbing for the kids. That's their buddy, that's their pal, and their poor partner's laying out there…mush."

One attempt at animal control was opening up a kennel, but Bremner says a lack of funding forced the kennel to close down. And with no shelter for stray dogs, animal control has also become an issue for public safety as well. The department received over a thousand dog bite calls last year. That means, one out of every 10 people on the reservation was bitten by a stray animal.

Henry Deveraux, Director of the Public Safety Department says, "If you're responding to three thousand disturbance calls per year, that dog call is probably going to be like put down the ladder."

Another part of the Blackfeet dog trouble is a lack of money. Spay and neuter clinics have been successful in the past but some say the cost to fix their pet is hard to justify, when money is tight. Officer Higgins says, "You know, would you rather eat or have your dog neutered?"

Mayor Bremner admits he has a long road ahead of him as he attempts to improve the living conditions of our dogs with a lack of funding, while trying to keeping the reservation's cultural beliefs in tact at the same time.

Mayor Bremner is now looking to set up a committee that will be dedicated to solving the issue of animal control in browning. The committee will be meeting with the Blackfeet Tribal Council and the Public Safety Department with a report on what they feel needs to be done and what immediate steps need to be taken.