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.