Northern Animal Health Initiative | Veterinarians Without Borders
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Northern Canada

Northern Animal Health Initiative | Veterinarians Without Borders

The Northern Animal Health Initiative is focused on improving animal health in Canada's North by providing services for underserved communities in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. 

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NAHI in 2022-2023

Our Northern Animal Health Initiative 

Those of us who live in larger urban and rural communities are fortunate to have access to trusted veterinarians in our communities, who provide us the opportunity to have our dogs vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and treated should they be injured or sick.

But for those of us who do not live in a community where those services are not available

In 2017, a study conducted on behalf of VWB/VSF found 54 remote communities of 100 or more people in Canada’s three northern territories had little or no access to veterinary services.

Animals in the northern regions of Canada tend to live shorter lives, dying from diseases and causes that are either treatable or preventable. There is also a very real health threat to people. In some communities, the inability to control dog populations puts humans, particularly children, at risk from dog bites, for example. As well, unvaccinated dogs can transfer diseases - including rabies - to humans.

From the Annual Report:

  • 718 Animals vaccinated
  • 767 Dogs treated
  • 23 Volunteers deployed
  • 11 Chartered flights
  • 4 Lay vaccinators trained (people that live in the community that can now vaccinate!)
  • 11 Communities visited

How we support northern communities

Veterinarians without Borders develops partnerships with remote communities in the Canadian territories upon their invitation.

We work with them to identify needs and build a plan with community representatives to build local capacity to address animal care needs year-round. This includes offering temporary veterinary clinics with a team of volunteers.

Our aim is to build a sustainable framework that will create the conditions for lasting, community-driven animal health.

Resources for Northern communities

If you live in one of the Canadian territories and are looking for resources to strengthen local capacity for animal health, please check out the following options.

Access to Care awards program

With the goal to increase knowledge of animal care and science in northern communities the awards program supports northern residents in pursuing animal- and one-health related studies. We award more than $45,000 annually.

Northern Animal Health Resources

We works with communities to identify resources that will help strengthen animal health capacity. We are committed to protecting and fostering Indigenous languages in the communities we partner with. Find the resources in the available translations here.

Northern Summit 2023

At the 2023 summit, we introduced the concept of the Community Animal Health Worker and how this model is implemented internationally, with discussions to find out how this model could be implemented in the north to create greater access to animal health in communities year-round. Watch the recordings and share your insights.

Telehealth program

VWB/VSF is piloting a veterinary telehealth program, in partnership with PetSmart Charities of Canada and Animal HealthLink, for the communities of Gjoa Haven, NU, Tuktoyaktuk, NT, and Kugluktuk, NU by providing them with essential veterinary care via a phoneline. Their calls will be addressed by registered veterinary technologists and triaged to VWB/VSF staff, including veterinarians, as needed. Looking for more info? Reach out to

One Health & The Northern Animal Health Initiative 

As with all of our work, VWB/VSF approaches the Northern Animal Health Initiative (NAHI) from a One Health perspective. In practical terms, our involvement in the Northern Animal Health Initiative is rooted in three key pillars:

Community-driven Partnerships

We work with communities to understand their needs and then build collaborations among community members, VWB/VSF, veterinarians, and other stakeholders to address those needs.

Sustainable Veterinary Care

Sustainable veterinary care means more than flying in veterinarians once a year. Community members trained in certain procedures, access to telemedicine, and other solutions tailored for specific communities are essential components of sustainability.

Education & Research

Knowledge sharing, education and addressing community-identified research needs will promote safe and positive human-animal interactions. For example, teaching youth how to engage with unknown dogs or supporting the local government with bylaw development.

Our Program Partners

VWB/VSF’s northern work is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Angel Gabriel Foundation and the below partners.

  • Vetoquinol Logo
  • NWT SPCA Logo
  • Elenco Canada Logo
  • Zoetis Canada Logo
  • Boehringer Ingelheim Logo

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