My dog Renzo was one of the many unwanted sled dogs in Alaska and Canada. He's adapted to city life quite well.
As most of you who read this blog regularly know, I have a rescue sled dog. So I have a special fondness of these working dogs of the north, but it doesn’t take any special kinship to be sickened by the story of 100 sled dogs slaughtered in British Columbia, Canada. According to the story posted on HuffPo, a tour company near Whistler ordered the killing of 100 of its 300 dogs due to a downturn in the economy.
I understand that times are tough but did they try to place the dogs with other families, mushers even? Shouldn’t that be required of companies that make their money on the backs of dogs? I learned a lot about the dark side of sled dog ownership researching a story on a woman who rehabilitates sled dogs in Fairbanks. And I’m not saying every musher is cruel or even that most are cruel, but there are plenty who see dogs as machines and treat them accordingly. Add to that the profit motive and things get really sticky.
I also know that sometimes killing an animal is better than abandonment, but abandonment shouldn’t be an option. And if the reported details of these killings are accurate—some dogs “were repeatedly shot and had their throats slashed before being dumped into a mass grave,” others were tossed into the grave while still alive—it's a simple case of extreme cruelty and should be treated as a serious crime.
Meanwhile, the role of mushing for entertainment has to be examined. Can it be pursued humanely? How do we ensure the dogs are kept safe? What do you think?