I have to respond to the recent story that was released regarding the musher in Vancouver, Canada. I am not only sickened by what happened in Vancouver, but I am really saddened. This story shows what happens when sled dogs are looked upon as a financial commodity by people more interested in profit than in the lives of dogs. This is not the case for most mushers.
Most mushers love their dogs and regard them as family. When a dog is sick you take the dog into your home and heal it. If a dog has cancer, you take him or her to the vet and have them euthanized. The way we treat our animals is a reflection of who we are.
To me, it is unacceptable the way many animals are treated. This goes for pet owners as well as sled dogs owners. I am fortunate to have worked for a sled dog operation filled with healthy, happy dogs that get to do what they love to do – run.
I was equally dismayed to hear the Vancouver Humane Society call for a ban on dog sledding. I have worked for a dog sled operation for three years in Colorado with very loving owners. To cut off the business of these operations is basically to cut off their income for the year. Without income, how are they supposed to treat, care for and even feed these dogs?
As the ASPCA mentions, these dogs are not adoptable dogs for the most part. They need several hours of exercise every day, which most pet owners don’t have time for. They are also outdoor dogs and are used to living in a pack. The ASPCA denied help to this musher saying the dogs would not fare well in a home. So what then, does the Humane Society propose to do with these sled dogs, that because of their good intentions to stop cruelty, may end up hurting a lot of dogs?
By banning dog sledding, we would be creating the very problem we are trying to avoid, a situation in which hundreds of sled dogs would have to be euthanized because they couldn’t be cared for. Instead of trying to close down dog sledding operations that do have caring owners, I believe in order to create positive change, regular inspections should be done and records of the dogs need to be kept disclosing if dogs are sold, where dogs are sold to or given away to and if dogs have been euthanized and why.
Every day pets are killed and abused and to say that there should be no pet owners because some pet owners are abusive would be to take away the love that many dogs benefit from. Unfortunately the horror stories of dog sled operations get all the publicity while loving owners find themselves fighting for the relationship they have with their dogs and their right to raise and care for their own sled dogs.
In this world, we need to start focusing on what positive actions we can take to help the dogs. Rash decisions by those who do not understand the needs of these dogs can end up costing their lives. So let’s start with better screening and more inspections of dog sled operations. A cap on the amount of dogs allowed would also help protect them.
There are a hundred dogs in Colorado that I miss every single day. Their unconditional love changed my life in more ways than I can count. They let me cry on their shoulder and encouraged me through some very difficult times in my life. Anyone who has experienced what I have would never think of ending sled dog touring operations.