The Fan Hitch   Volume 20, Number 2, March 2018

          Journal of the Inuit Sled Dog                                    
In This Issue....

From the Editor: Nakurmiik

Historic Polar Films at the Peary MacMillan
Museum and Arctic Studies Center

Arctic Nomads Workshop Booklet

National Registry Established to Vaccinate Greenland Dogs

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Editor: Sue Hamilton
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Exploring the Disko Bay region outside of Ilulissat in northwest Greenland         photo: Hamilton

National Registry Established to Vaccinate Greenland Dogs

To prevent deadly epidemics of distemper, parvovirus and rabies, in January 2017 Greenland legislated a mandatory vaccination program for all dogs, including booster shots to be given every three years. A nation-wide registration program was implemented, including UumaReg, a database overseen by veterinarians. This will mean that Greenland’s 14,000 sled dogs will be vaccinated by trained individuals living in what are known as the “sled dog districts”. They will also microchip each dog to track vaccination histories.

A 25% decline in Greenland’s registered sled dogs in the past decade has been attributed to increased use of snow machines, but veterinarians say that many deaths are due to epidemics of the viral diseases which can be prevented by routine vaccination. A January 2016 distemper outbreak in Ilulissat resulted in the death of 400 dogs, further threatening what has been described as “Greenland’s cultural heritage”.  In an October 25, 2017 article in SERMITSIAQ AG  Sussi Cortzen of Qaasuitsup Municipality (Qaasuitsup Municipality is the northernmost Greenland municipality with 17,008 inhabitants, covering 661,000 km2/255,213 mi2 as of 2016. It was established in the municipal reform in Greenland 2009 by the merger of eight municipalities. Ilulissat is the main city of the municipality.) said, "We are only in the start-up phase. Ilulissat becomes a test site for the new system…The new database must be checked for any program errors before we start registering dogs in other areas using microchip. Now we start all the way from the bottom where all adult dogs and puppies who are over three months must have a microchip. It is the plan that puppies get a microchip when they are three months old in connection with the first vaccination against parvovirus."

How successful will it be? Time will tell. However a headline "Greenland authorities in race to vaccinate sled dogs ahead of major competition” in the February 1, 2018 issue of Arctic Now, stated: "A rash of outbreaks of dog illnesses, including the highly contagious virus distemper, has officials in northern Greenland moving swiftly to carry out a nationally mandated vaccination program in time to allow dogs to compete in one of the country's largest dog-sled races. As many as 50 dog teams compete in Greenland's Avannaata Qimussersua each year."

Note: This report has been summarized from October 2017 and February 2018 stories in Arctic Now (by Kevin McGwin) and in SERMITSIAQ AG
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