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February 23, 2012

HSI/Canada Applauds British Columbia for New Sled Dog Code of Practice

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Some sled dogs spend most of their lives chained up. Karla Goodson

MONTRÉAL—Humane Society International/Canada welcomes the new Sled Dog Code of Practice introduced by the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, which establishes minimum standards of care and health for the province’s sled dogs. However, HSI/Canada says additional steps are needed to safeguard animals in the sled dog industry.

The new regulations come nearly two years after the massacre of 100 healthy sled dogs by Outdoor Adventures, following the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

“British Columbia’s Sled Dog Code of Practice is a very important move in the right direction to improve the welfare of working dogs in the industry,” said Lauren Scott, campaigner for Humane Society International/Canada. “However, as outlined in the new codes and regulations, more needs to be done to ensure the industry factors and plans for the retirement and rehoming of sled dogs, which currently contributes to the overpopulation of shelters.”

Join our call for stronger animal protection laws across Canada.

Outdoor Adventures in Whistler apparently purchased the huskies in anticipation of increased business during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, only to the slaughter the dogs when tours dropped off the following season. Due to massive public outcry from around the world, the British Columbia government in 2011 established a special task force to introduce new industry regulations and laws.

While the province’s Sled Dog Code of Practice sets out health, transportation, euthanasia, nutrition and working conditions of sled dogs, the standards fail to limit the number of animals sled dog operations may possess and still allows for tethering as a means of permanent confinement. As indicated by the American Association of Shelter Veterinarians in their Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters, permanent tethering is not a humane practice.

Tragically, cases of neglected sled dogs are regularly reported in Canada. In certain cases, sled dogs are chained for their entire lives until it is time to pull the sled—at which point they can be run to the point of exhaustion.

In recent years, HSI/Canada has been involved in two sled dog seizures, involving the rescue of hundreds of severely neglected animals. In both cases, rescue workers witnessed horrific situations, including huskies chained to metal poles and rotting plywood structures over barren stretches of frozen mud with no regular access to food, water or shelter.

HSI/Canada, while not opposed to commercial sled dog operations, is calling for stronger provincial and federal laws to protect these animals throughout the nation, and urges the sled dog industry as a whole to establish and help enforce the highest possible standards of animal care, including taking steps to rehome the dogs upon retirement. Take action now.

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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI/Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International—one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than 11 million members and constituents globally—On the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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