No need to kill sled dogs, operator says
Published Tuesday, February 1, 2011 8:55PM PST
A sled dog tour operator in Whistler, B.C., says her retired working dogs are adopted out to families as house pets -- and there's never a time where an unused animal should be shot to death.
The SPCA and B.C. Mounties are investigating after an employee of Howling Dog Tours, a company owned by Outdoor Adventures Whistler, shot 100 healthy dogs to death following a "slow winter season" after the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
A WorkSafe BC claim filed by the worker outlined a gruesome murder scene, where some dogs had to be chased down with parts of their face missing.
Jaime Hargreaves, who runs Trappers' Rung Dogsled in Whistler, says dogs that are no longer needed in her sledding business are still part of her family and aren't euthanized.
"A retired dog isn't a dog to get rid of. They stay with the family and they're treated in a respectable manner," she said, adding that her kennel holds 50 dogs at any given time.
Hargreaves believes the dogs are able to be domesticated and adopted out to a loving family.
"If I have a dog that doesn't love the sport I place it in a home," she said.
But veterinarian Dr. Chris Armstrong says the adoptability of a working Siberian Husky may not be so easy. The animals, especially those used on long sled tours, can be strong-willed, independent and prone to howling.
"Are they a little more difficult? No question. Compare it to my Labrador Retriever, oh yeah," Armstrong told ctvbc.ca in a telephone interview from her Surrey, B.C., clinic.
She says anyone thinking about adopting a retired sled dog should be aware of its unique breed traits, for better or worse.
"There are great organizations that place racing dogs like Whippets and Greyhounds into homes and they make fabulous pets. It's just a matter of matching the needs and wants of the individual," she said.
Sled dog operators admit that killing animals once they're no longer of value to the business is common practice in the industry. It is legal in Canada to euthanize an animal, as long as it is in a way considered humane.
The practice of killing unused animals in the sled dog industry has prompted the Vancouver Humane Society to call for a ban on Canadian operations altogether.
"If you can't guarantee a humane life from beginning to end than you shouldn't be in business," Peter Fricker told ctvbc.ca.