Nunavut's only humane society closes as building set to be demolished

The Iqaluit Humane Society had occupied a building owned by the City of Iqaluit for the last 15 years. But the building was condemned by the city due to a mould problem and is slated to be torn down this year. (Iqaluit Humane Society)

Nunavut's only humane society announced on Wednesday that it has closed its doors because its current home is set to be demolished.

The Iqaluit Humane Society (IHS) had occupied a building owned by the City of Iqaluit for the last 15 years. The modest space is about the size of a bachelor apartment and can house up to 30 animals.

The humane society rehomed up to 700 pets every year, often to other parts of the country. In the last two years, it had expanded to also offer veterinary services and education programs for pet owners.

But last fall, the building was condemned by the city due to a mould problem and is slated to be torn down this year.

"For the last 15 years, we’ve had the honour of caring for the most wonderful animals," the Iqaluit Humane Society wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday. "Although this is our life’s work we have volunteered for through thick and thin, sometimes the best decisions are the toughest.

The city had offered to let them stay for an extra month, but the humane society opted to move out before the start of winter.

"Although a month extension was offered, we needed to move our items before winter weather made that impossible and while helping hands were still available," the humane society said.

All of the animals that had been at the humane society were either put in foster care, adopted or sent to a boarding kennel in Ottawa right before the closure, Iqaluit Humane Society president Janelle Kennedy told CTVNews.ca.

The humane society has a temporary trailer that was donated by a local construction company. But they don't have anywhere to place the trailer as they don't own any land. They're hoping to acquire some land where they can not only place the temporary trailer, but also build a brand-new facility.

"We've spent the last year trying very, very hard to secure a piece of property that will work for a new animal shelter that can service all of Nunavut and continue the great work that we do," Kennedy said over the phone on Friday.

So far, the humane society has raised more than $519,000 of its $1-million goal on GoFundMe, all of which is being held in trust. Nearly half of this money came from a $250,000 donation from the Eric S. Margolis Family Foundation.

The humane society plans on using the money to fund construction costs for a new facility. However, Kennedy says the cost of purchasing privately held land alone can be as high as $1 million. She's keeping her fingers crossed for a local business to offer the humane society a land lease at little to no cost.

"We're currently kind of regrouping to find out what private land is possibly available and how much it would cost, and if there's any possible way that we can have a building fund and raise enough money to purchase the property as well," said Kennedy.

Even without a building, Kennedy says the Iqaluit Humane Society will still be around to help local pet owners as much as they can.

"If someone's looking to surrender an animal, we may not be able to take it right away, but we can help them as much as we possibly can to rehome the animal, help with some training that they might need, or potentially transfer the animal south or to a new home," Kennedy said. 

With files from CTVNews.ca writer Jeremiah Rodriguez