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In British Columbia, Debate Rages Over Sled Dogs

Sled Dogs

It’s an industry unto itself that has fostered many differing points of view.

It’s dog sledding in British Columbia, and as the provincial government’s Sled Dog Task Force prepares to release its review of the sled dog industry, a debate is raging over what its recommendations should be.

And in this debate there are actually three points of view:

Those who believe the killing of 100 sled dogs in Whistler, British Columbia was an isolated incident and simply want someone punished for the act, with no further action taken.

Others who think the industry needs some form of regulation (including some who think self-regulation is sufficient).

The third position, one held by the Vancouver Humane Society, is that sled dog tours and races should be banned.

The head of the task force, veterinarian Dr. Terry Lake, (who is a Member of Legislative Assembly, for Kamloops-North Thompson, British Columbia where dog sledding is a heavily promoted tourist attraction), has already indicated though, that a ban is not on the cards. Lake has stated that he believes the Whistler incident “is not reflective of the industry” and reportedly favors “best practices” guidelines for sled dog operations, along with revised animal cruelty laws.

While regulations appear to be a more “reasonable” course than an outright ban, those who favor a total ban say that regulations will never get to the heart of the real problem with commercial dog sledding: the commodification of the dogs. They feel that when animals are regarded as sources of revenue, their welfare can never be ensured. As one who is in favor of a total ban of the industry, Marcie Moriarty, head of BC SPCA cruelty investigations, states, “I’m glad a light is finally being shed on this industry. I just shudder whenever I see the ads for sled dog tours because I know how the majority of dogs are living.”

The industry meanwhile, argues that sled dogs are different from other, non-working dogs, that they are bred for endurance and to withstand cold. Dr. Lake, has said: “These are not pet dogs we are dealing with, and so the method of euthanasia in a veterinary office is not the only humane method of euthanasia.”

Whatever the outcome is on this issue, we will keep you posted.

Story By Elaine Furst For Dog Files

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11 years ago

I don’t understand how such short haired dogs can withstand the cold like Mals and Sibes…..

11 years ago
Reply to  Beanieblueeyes

They have extremely thick fur (not hair like some dogs have) and its a layered coat, meaning different types of fur, acts like insulation. For instance a Newfoundland dog doesn’t even get wet to the skin when they get in the water just the outter layers of their coat, which is oily like.

11 years ago

Dr. Lake, has said: “These are not pet dogs we are dealing with, and so the method of euthanasia in a veterinary office is not the only humane method of euthanasia.”

Considering how these animals were killed I can’t help but think that is a pretty ignorant statement to make. You just lost all credibility, sir.

11 years ago

I thought the same thing as I was reading. I loath thinking about what he views as “humane”, his ignorance says it all.

11 years ago

For Dr Lake to infer that taking dogs out and shooting them is an acceptible alternative method of euthanasia based on the sole fact the owner(s) decided to use them for sport and profit not ‘pets’ is very disturbing.

That is a very unevolved, uneducated statement by Dr. Lake. Sled dogs do not choose to entertain humans or turn profits. Nor do they feel less pain or fear or suffer less than companion dogs.

Humane veterinary euthanasia should be required regardless of what the dog was trained to do ( that is just ignorance to think otherwise) and it should be for relieving suffering and be in the best interest of the dog, not a business decision. What a sick world…

Canine Companion
Canine Companion
11 years ago

Dr. Lake is clearly a lobbyist/apologist for commercial dog sled industry. No credibility, period.


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