Animal welfare activists in Manitoba are calling on the provincial and federal governments to end the culling of wild dogs. But some First Nations leaders say the cull is needed to protect residents of northern reserves.

An online petition calling for the ending of dog culls, which take place every few months in many of Canada’s northern First Nations communities, was launched in April and has since garnered more than 13,000 signatures.

Petition organizers hope to collect at least 50,000 signatures and raise money for veterinarian visits, so that dogs on reserves can be spayed and neutered.

The petition was inspired by the case of a retriever that was shot multiple times at the end of March and left to die. The dog survived for five days before he was found. Named “Trooper” by his rescuers, he was eventually put down.

The petition calls for a law that would ban dog culls and suggests it be called “Trooper’s Law.”

Sally Hull of Hull’s Haven -- a pet rescue organization based in Winnipeg -- described Trooper’s injuries to CTV News.

“There were 17 pellets in his head,” she said. “A shotgun is no way to kill a dog.

“We would like to see something along the lines of ‘Trooper’s Law’ being passed … no more dog culls,” she said.

The petition says that dogs are shot whether they are aggressive or not.

“Most of these dogs are not killed right away and are left to suffer for days until they finally die. This is unacceptable and needs to stop,” it says.

But First Nations who participate in the cull say the hunt is necessary for safety reasons. With no veterinary clinics close by to spay and neuter the wild dogs, the dog population on reserves can grow and become dangerous.

In 2010, 10-year-old Keith Iron was mauled to death by dogs on a Saskatchewan First Nation. And on a Manitoba northern First Nation, there have also been a number of recent dog attacks.

“There have been three deaths there by overpopulation of dogs. They attacked two children and one elderly (person),” said Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief David Harper.

Harper said that with so many issues needing attention on reserves, rescuing stray dogs is not a top priority.

With a report by CTV’s Winnipeg Bureau Chief Jill Macyshon