Sask. producers can now get bigger rebate on guard dogs to protect livestock

On Wednesday, the province announced changes to the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation’s guardian dog rebate program. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images - image credit)
On Wednesday, the province announced changes to the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation’s guardian dog rebate program. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images - image credit)

The provincial government is increasing guard dog rebates for Saskatchewan ranchers.

On Wednesday, the province announced changes to the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation's guardian dog rebate program, following consultation with the Saskatchewan Sheep Development Board.

The rebate is being increased from $100 to $400 per guard dog, or the full amount of the dog if the cost is less than $400.

Gord Schroeder, the development board's executive director, said the industry organization asked for the increase because demand is increasing for guard dogs, which he said are important to help producers protect their animals from predators.

"We're trying to prevent animal welfare issues, just trying to protect the animals," said Schroeder.

"There are more costs of dogs [that] are going up, more trained dogs are available, different breeds are available, and so we just found that the current [rebate] level was not significant enough."

He estimates each dog costs anywhere from $1,000 to $1,200 a year to maintain.

The new rebate is retroactive to April 1, 2024, according to the province.

Lorelei Hulston, the operations vice-president for the crop insurance corporation, said SCIC has paid for about 100 dogs a year on average over the last few years.

Lost animal cost

According to data from the corporation, cattle accounted for 72 per cent of the animals producers lost to wildlife predation in 2023-24.

The corporation says 2,429 cattle were lost, resulting in $3.8 million in compensation.

Sheep accounted for 23 per cent of losses to predators in that same time frame, leading to over $152,000 in compensation.

The five-year average shows about $2.9 million was paid out on approximately 2,300 processed claims annually for predation compensation, as of 2023.

Hulston said there is no proof of training for guard dogs needed to get the rebate, but the dog purchased must be one of the approved breeds.