On a cold winter day in 2009, Dr. Judith Samson-French, veterinarian and hospital owner, Lori Rogers, Senior Animal Health Technologist at the Calgary Zoo, and , pondered how to deal with the distressing situation of unwanted and suffering dogs on First Nations land. Judith’s clinic borders the Tsuu T’ina reserve in the southern Alberta foothills and has accommodated countless sick and injured dogs from the area. Lori revealed that several North American zoos use a contraceptive implant from Australia in various species to prevent reproduction. After reviewing the available scientific literature, Judith designed a pilot project to implant the contraceptives in reserve dogs. In order to proceed they needed access. They contacted Animal Rescue Foundation which offered its support, and together with Judith’s Banded Peak Veterinary Hospital decided to fund the innovative program.
For the first time ever, anywhere, a team headed out to insert contraceptive implants into semi-feral and feral female dogs. Their goal was clear: to humanely reduce the population of unwanted dogs on First Nations reserves. These dogs became fondly known as the “Dogs With No Names”.
Upon returning from our field trips, everyone in the team would experience a mixture of emotions from the challenges we encountered, but always felt amazingly alive and full of energy.
These dogs are truly expressions of courage and hope. By relating to them, we have started to feel in our hearts what are minds already knew: to travel a path of hopelessness and apathy is not how anyone’s journey on earth is meant to unfold. We all need to give and receive love, show understanding, and provide comfort. We need purpose to remain rational in the face of adversity and keep up the struggle of making our lives relevant to stay vibrant. The reserve dogs taught us profound lessons. Leading by example, they showed us that a life well lived is far more than “just getting by.” They also showed us to celebrate our lives to the fullest as we accept the uncertainty and randomness of each day . Thank you for purchasing the book and being a positive force.
An experienced veterinary clinician and surgeon with over 20 years of experience, Dr. Judith Samson-French owns and operates a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital (Banded Peak Veterinary Hospital) in the heart of the Rocky Mountain foothills, where she offers animal medical and emergency care. Dr. Samson-French’s experience with animals is multi-layered and diverse: she has worked at both the Calgary Zoo and the Honolulu Zoo, she has worked as an emergency veterinarian as well as a general practitioner, she has invested several years of her career to pursuing medicine and surgery for ratites (ostriches, emus, and rheas) in North America and Europe and, most recently, she has established a veterinary hospital that provides quality care to her patients while at the same time complementing her work to resolve the problem of dog overpopulation on Native reserve lands adjacent to her hospital. She is currently conducting a first-time trial project that involves implanting contraceptives in unwanted, stray dogs on the Tsuu T’ina and Siksika reserves, thus preventing the potential births of more than 100,000 dogs.
Dr. Samson-French acquired a bachelor’s degree in Science from McGill University, and a master’s degree in Science from the University of Alberta by completing a thesis on lungworm pneumonia in bighorn sheep. She received her doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the Ontario Veterinary College. In addition to working with all companion animals, Dr. Samson-French has pursued education in aquatic veterinary medicine, studying at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (Massachusetts, USA) and Bamfield Marine Station in western Canada. Passionate about creatures large and small, she has included work with exotic animals (field work on green iguanas in Costa Rica), small ruminants and equine patients in her veterinary practice, along with rehabilitation of sick and injured wildlife. As well, Dr. Samson-French has authored and co-authored several scientific articles, which have been published in well-known peer-reviewed journals in Canada and the USA. Recently, her innovative approach to solving the dog overpopulation problem piqued the interest of the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs, and she was invited to present her research at their 2010 symposium in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Samson-French lives with her husband and son in the Alberta foothills; together they have adopted two dogs and six donkeys that did not have names before they arrived at their new home. They have no cats.
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