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World Dog Day August 26: A Dog's Health is Our Health

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 08/25/13 -- World Dog Day (August 26th) celebrates the bond between humans and dogs that has evolved over thousands of years in cultures all over the world. Dogs are highly adapted to living with and understanding humans, and as we increasingly share our lives with them we see clear links between our health and theirs.

Worldwide, there are examples of the interconnection between dog and human health, and what happens when dog health is ignored. Common problems that affect dogs all over the world include lack of vaccination against infectious diseases, inadequate and inappropriate nutrition, insufficient exercise, boredom, deprived social environments, unmanaged reproductive activity and behavior problems. These problems clearly affect the dogs but also affect humans when dogs become a nuisance or danger.

Kate Atema, IFAW Program Director for Companion Animals: "IFAW's projects, whether in South Africa, Mexico, Indonesia, China, North America or Germany, see common problems that are caused by failures of communities to ensure that dogs have the basic requirements for physical and psychological health. Neglected, abused and sick dogs result from, and exacerbate, societal problems. Everywhere we go the lives and well-being of dogs and humans are integrally linked."

Here in Canada, many First Nations communities are struggling with dog-related problems that are often linked to human health and safety and IFAW provides services and support to them via its Northern Dogs Project. Remoteness and lack of access to veterinary care is a primary concern in a number of First Nations communities, and it leaves dogs vulnerable to disease and illness that can, in some cases, be passed on to humans.

Jan Hannah, IFAW Project Manager for the Northern Dogs Project : "Canada's First Nations are faced with a great many challenges, and sometimes dogs fall to the bottom of the priority list. In addition, many of these communities are located literally hours from a veterinarian, making disease prevention very difficult. I get calls every day from communities that are struggling and need help."

Roaming dogs are a common sight in many First Nations communities, but they can pose a risk to human health and safety when the dogs' basic needs are not being met. Roaming dogs sometimes form packs or become a nuisance when they are not fed properly and have to scavenge for food, when they're not sterilized and males fight for females or if they're not vaccinated and contract diseases.

Hannah explains: "Dogs are resourceful, but they are still dependent on a human guardian to meet their needs. In the absence of a human guardian the behaviours they exhibit, like chasing cars or biting kids for food, aren't usually desirable in a community. We work with communities to identify those problem areas and collaborate on ways to fix them."

Through community education and veterinary assistance, IFAW brings the importance of disease prevention and well-being to the forefront of dog and community health. Because of the close relationship between dogs and people, the welfare of each is dependent on the other.

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats.

IFAW works to improve the well-being of dogs throughout the world by supporting and developing projects that raise the quality of care that people provide to dogs. IFAW Canada's Northern Dogs Project has, since 2002, been working in First Nations communities to provide veterinary care, dog population management techniques and workshops, humane education and rehoming of dogs when required. For more information visit http://www.ifaw.org/northerndogs

For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

EDITORS: Professional quality photographs are available.

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