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Understanding the Connections Between Dogs, Health and Inuit Through a Mixed-Methods Study

Aenishaenslin, Cécile, Brunet, Patricia, Lévesque, Francis, Gouin, Géraldine G., Simon, Audrey, Saint-Charles, Johanne, Leighton, Patrick, Bastian, Suzanne, Ravel, André
EcoHealth 2019 v.16 no.1 pp. 151-160
Inuit, cultural environment, dogs, environmental health, humans, rabies, risk, zoonoses, Quebec
Dogs have been an integral part of the Inuit social and cultural environment for generations, but their presence also generates public health risks such as bites and exposure to zoonotic diseases such as rabies. In Nunavik, Canada, some prevention and control interventions targeting dogs have been implemented but have not demonstrated their effectiveness in a long-term sustainable perspective. This study was conducted in one Inuit community of Nunavik and used mixed methods to get a better understanding of factors that affect human and dog health, dog-related risks for humans and perceptions of dogs in Inuit communities using an interdisciplinary perspective in line with the Ecohealth approach. Results unveiled different perceptions and practices between Inuit and non-Inuit members of the community with regard to dogs and highlighted the positive role of dogs and their importance for Inuit health and well-being. This study provides new knowledge that is crucial for the development of integrated, sustainable and culturally adapted solutions to both the mitigation of dog-related health risks and the reinforcement of health and wellness benefits of dogs for Inuit.