Disgusting Human Failure

Everyone is talking about the 100 sled dogs that were slaughtered in April last year. They were murdered because Outdoor Adventures Whistler – owner of the subsidiary sledding tour company Howling Dog Tours – did not find keeping the dogs economically feasible. They killed them because it was cheaper than keeping them alive. Certainly cheaper than trying to find home for them. Especially considering that most sled dogs are not well-socialised or well-loved. Trying to fit these dogs into a normal home would be very hard. So they made it easy on themselves. They are just dogs, right? Just money-making tools. When they are no longer useful, why keep them around? After all, there are always more where they came from.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. It is just the first time the media has cared.

According to local blog writer Joan Sinden, in 2008 a former puppy mill in New Brunswick called Chapman Kennels killed 175 dogs after some bad press. They had over 425 dogs in their care and no one to buy them. I’m assuming many were very ill already given where they came from. Many may have died before the kennel owners came around to do the slaughtering.

I suspect such horrific events happen a lot more than any of us want to realise. Puppy mills are only one way the government allows it to happen. In some cases, as in Breed Specific Legislation, the killing is even government mandated. But when I read about stories like this, I have to wonder how many times companies just like them have done this before. How many dogs have been killed so brutally and carelessly for the same reason?

If this employee  had not filed his claim with WorkSafe BC I doubt anyone would know about it. If this employee had kept his mouth shut, would international news outlets even have anything to report? How often does this happen? Once a year? Twice? We’ll never know.

As long as the government views animals strictly as property, this isn’t going to change.

About two years ago now I heard about a seventy-three year old man who beat five puppies to death with a hammer because the SPCA intended to seize them. Apparently, this person thought they would be better off killed by him than placed in the local shelter. If you are interested, you can read the details here. The reason I am talking about it now is because the man received a very light sentence. He was essentially acquitted with the condition that he could not own a pet for the next twelve months. Twelve months of no dog ownership. A period that is long over in February 2011. I shudder to think this man has puppies under his care as I write this.

Unfortunately, this judge’s ruling was not different from the norm. This is pretty much how it goes. Pets are property. Full stop. Ownership is ownership is ownership. As far as the law is concerned, this man was able to dispatch of his property as he saw fit. This man killed five puppies. The manager of Howling Dog Tours killed 100. The two are not mutually exclusive.

The Vancouver Humane Society wants to put an end to all sled dog tours. I am not convinced that is the best response.

There are a lot of sled dog tour groups throughout the country. Many of them are probably in violation of ethical treatment standards. I’ve seen the images on television. Dogs who permanently live outside, leashed up to a small dog house or barrel. They’ve never been given human affection, never been praised. Dogs who exist purely for the tourist dollar. Dogs who know nothing but the harness and the sled. However, I know there must be some that are run by good people who care about their dogs and treat them with the respect – and love – they deserve. I know some dog sled tour companies are much smaller. Their dogs probably are just as much companions as they are meal tickets. Forcing these people out of business isn’t the answer.

This tour group should be set up as an example. One hundred dogs is a massive number. I am guessing they own more than that. I wonder what their facilities look like. How many places are capable of caring for over one hundred animals? Perhaps there should be clearly defined legal standards for running an animal-related business. Perhaps there should be regular inspections. Perhaps there should be legislation for the proper handing of animals when the company faces a financial loss. Perhaps there should be a limit on the number of dogs a business is allowed to keep in one place.

In my opinion, this devastating tragedy could have been prevented. If businesses knew there would be real repercussions for the mass killing of their animals, perhaps they would find another way. A precedent needs to be set. At the very least consumers need to be more informed. I know I will be doing my research before I give my money to any animal-related business.

I hope all the press around this terrible event will be one step in the right direction. I hope.

If you want to read a great post on the subject, CindyLu’s Muse did an excellent job of breaking it down. I am too angry to be nearly as poignant.

38 thoughts on “Disgusting Human Failure

    • That would be correct. He filed with the WCB because of his post-traumatic stress as a result of the gruesome things he did to these poor animals. What, you don’t feel sorry for him?

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  1. My thoughts:

    These dogs are not pets. They never will be. Very few (as in basically none at all) pet owners are capable of dealing with these dogs. This dogs will not be happy as pets.

    The scenario you describe with the dogs living outside tied to dog houses….
    Those dogs are HAPPY. Human affection is not a necessity. They get exercised and fed and watered and they are doing what they are bred to do.
    Again… these are not pets.

    Just because you can’t imagine taking care of over 100 dog, does not mean it isn’t possible. Thinking like this was the downfall of wayyy too many wonderful large kennels. We don’t need any more of that.

    Beating a dog to death and shooting one is not even close to the same thing in this instance.

    The ONLY appropriate home if they were to sell the dogs would be with another dog sledding company. SPCA’s are not intelligent enough, or knowledgeable enough about dogs to do take these types of WORKING dogs (not pets)

    Did you know they sought the help of a vet and the veterinarian REFUSED TO EUTHANIZE THEM?! He should be feeling really bad right now, as he could have prevented a lot of suffering.

    The problem I see with this scenario is that they did not destroy the dogs in the quickest way possible. They didn’t think it though and instead were left chasing around half-dead dogs with a knife – THAT is cruel.

    The term “Puppy Mill” was created by animal rights organizations specifically to create vague anti-dog legislation. So… What is a “Puppy Mill”… 300 dogs? 100 dogs? 50 dogs? 20 dogs? No one knows. Thats how they can get rid of ALL breeders, not just volume breeders.

    Lastly, there ARE clearly defined legal standards for running an animal-related business.

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    • I agree, these dogs are not pets. They are not meant to live in a normal home. This is understood. But was this really the right way to deal with their financial burden?

      I agree also that there are many large kennels out there that are wonderful. I apologise if I didn’t make that clear.

      Shooting an animal is legal – as long as the animal dies instantly. In this case that didn’t always happen. I don’t want to read over the details again, but many of these animals suffered long after they were shot.

      I agree, however, with the veterinarian. These dogs were healthy and strong. I understand that he may have not felt comfortable with the idea of killing them. Perhaps he could have prevented their suffering but I don’t think it is fair to place the blame on him. He did what he thought was right. It doesn’t excuse what this company did. They could have searched for another vet or found another solution. They did what was easiest. Not what was right.

      There are clearly defined standards but I am not positive there is a clearly-defined way of enforcing these standards.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am going to have to do some more research.

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    • I’m going to respectfully disagree with Sam Daley. I do believe volume is a problem. Volume is at the core of factory farming. Large feed lots of beef cattle, puppy mills, and dog sledding outfits with hundreds of dogs are all examples of people doing large-scale production of living, sentient beings.

      When you are working with a high volume to increase profits, you are of necessity going to have problems. If your high volume is widgets, however, a little lower quality or having to decrease production because of lower demand won’t result in death (unless the laid off factory workers commit suicide).

      But dealing with an economic downturn by killing your product (whether humanely or not) is not a viable option in the world I want to live in.

      We’ve gotten used to massive businesses running to maximize profit. But that’s not the only form capitalism can take. It’s certainly not what Adam Smith had in mind. Yes, really. Read him.

      Oh, and the legally defined standards for animal-related businesses? I don’t know what the laws in Canada are like but in the U.S. many businesses self-regulate. The laws have no teeth.

      Kristine–you are right. And you are very eloquent in stating your opinion. Don’t back down.

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      • I have been struggling for a long while now with my opinions on factory farming. I grew up in Alberta. I have seen the feedlots firsthand. Events like this force me to examine many things that I try not to. Large-scale production… My heart tells me it isn’t right. So I have a lot of reconciling to do and a lot of questions to ask myself.

        It’s not a viable option in the world I want to live in, either.

        The laws here have very little teeth. With the basic research I have done today on animal cruelty laws in this country, I have learned our governments care very little. Which tells me our people care very little, in general, about changing them. Perhaps we are the crazy ones who don’t understand why it’s okay to treat animals as objects.

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      • Amen Pamela! I was going to respond to Sam until I saw your thoughtful response. I don’t know where Sam lives, but there aren’t legally defined standards for animal-related businesses. I should know. I adopted and rehabbed a puppy mill dog (she even has the number 201 tattooed in her ear to prove it) and have been fighting to get well-defined standards for animal-related businesses.

        I understand the predicament for the owner of the sled dogs, but I agree with Pamela, I don’t want to live in a world that views them simply as commodities (work horses) used for a purpose (to make tourist $$) only to kill them later when the tourists leave. I can think of other situations where this would not be acceptable, why is it here?

        By the way, a puppy mill is defined in Wikipedia – “A puppy mill, sometimes known as a puppy farm,[1] is a commercial dog breeding facility that is operated with an emphasis upon profits above animal welfare and is often in substandard conditions regarding the well-being of dogs in their care.”

        Not that confusing unless you are trying to create confusion because you are on the puppy mill owner’s side.

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    • That’s it exactly. Events like like make me re-consider everything about the way we humans regard animals. It’s not comfortable but I don’t know if I can live in denial any more.

      All I’m left with are a lot of questions.

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  2. I agree with Sam. These dogs are not pets, they are running machines that do not care very much for human contact. If they are running, they are happy. Given a choice of a warm sofa inside or pulling a sled, the dogs would be pulling the sled. Trying to rehome these animals would virtually be an impossibility.

    A responsible kennel would NOT have increased their kennel size just because the Olympics was comming. That is a poor long term view of business sustainability and animal welfare. Eventually the Olympics will be finished and the tourists business won’t be there.

    Do I agree with how the dogs were dispatched? Absolutely not. Is it fair to paint all sled dog tour operators with the same brush? No. Most kennels care very well for their animals, keep managable kennel sizes, and are concerned with the welfare of the animals.

    Last year my girlfriend did a three day sled dog trip with a very reputable tour operator. The Kennel cares for their animals very well and even attempts to rehome retired dogs. You can read my post here

    http://www.doggiestylish.com/store/2010/03/a-new-years-eve-party-with-sled-dogs/

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    • Thanks for sharing your post! I totally agree. There are many dog sled companies that are run by responsible, caring people. People who are doing it for the love not just for the money. Unfortunately, there are also many that aren’t. It’s hard to tell the difference from the outside. I don’t support the idea of shutting all these places down. That helps nobody and only puts more dogs at risk. But I know I will being doing my research before I support any company. Not a bad philosophy to have anyway.

      Thanks again for your comments. I appreciate hearing your point of view.

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  3. I read the full report of this yesterday and it really took everything in me to control my emotions.

    What bothers me most of all is that from what I gather, this outfit INCREASED its pack size even after the economy got a little crazy because of the Olympics… for 2-4weeks worth of uber tourism and maybe a few more months of increased tourism due to residual olympic excitement. They had to have known what the end result would be fore their “employees.” Had they not increased their pack for the olympics they probably wouldn’t have needed to cull nearly as many dogs.

    While I don’t particularly feel bad for the employee who did it… because…well, he did it…i AM thankful he brought this to light through the lawsuit.

    I dont know what the solution is… other than businesses being honest about what they can and cannot afford and NOT increasing pack size when long-term it is not financially viable…but something needs to be done to address this disgusting and needless mass-culling of dogs.

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    • I don’t know what the solution is either. But I’ve been looking into some of the animal cruelty laws in this country and what I have found is not pleasant.

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  4. Here in MO the alleged Humane Society of the United States hoodwinked a lot of good people into voting for Prop B, an amendment to our very thorough Animal Care and Facilities Act. They called it “the Puppy Mill Bill.” Most true, horrendous puppy mills are not regulated; I have been to one which was, which took good care of its dogs yet would, when needed, sell to dealers :(. Numbers do not tell the entire story – they never do. As YesBiscuit has said, you can do poor to horrendous care with one dog or 200. I agree with Sam in that numbers alone do not spell good or poor care; the operators/owners/caretakers are the responsible parties. Some dogs are not pets, they are working dogs in the true sense of the word.
    This was horrendous – and yes, more happens which we do not know to dogs, cats and people as well as other pets and HORSES.
    We are now seeing kennels close by the hundreds (400 so far and the amendment, if it stands, isn’t effective till November 2011). Some most likely needed to close. What I haven’t heard and believe me, I am listening and reading, is where the dogs and puppies are going :(. Oh and BTW, do you think the Amish are a charitable Christian sect? To one another, perhaps, but not to puppies, who they consider a “cash crop.”
    Sorry to meander. I am so concerned about the dogs being quietly killed in MO or sent out of state to other puppy mills/breeders, I no longer am making much sense.
    Very good discussion on all sides. Thanks, Kristine.

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    • That’s the concern I have as well. What happens to the dogs when puppy mills or other animal-related businesses close down? I don’t know if it is something society has really taken into account. This event has opened my brain to the reality. Shutting a place down isn’t simple. The dogs have to go somewhere. And I am not naive enough to believe they are all living in cozy homes.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is a lot for me to wrap my head around. There is a lot to say but it is hard to get it out properly. I appreciate your addition to the discussion.

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      • Kristine, I think it’s a valuable conversation to have (what happens to the animals?) but not one that we can be deterred by. When puppy mills are erradicated, there will be no future generations of dogs being kept in inhumane conditions without access to adequate water, shelter, vet care, or socialization. Yes, one generation of Missourri’s dogs is being displaced from their horrific lives. Some of these dogs will go to nice and cozy homes, some will go to smaller breeders, some will go to shelters, and as terrible as it is, some will likely be illegally destroyed (or legally euthanized at shelters due to acutely poor health or shelter overpopulation). But by ending it there, how many future generations of puppies won’t be born into a horrible system, raised to breed, and kept in the same squalor? When a fighting ring is busted and some of the dogs are inevitably destroyed (because let’s face it, there are not enough shelter spots in north america to accommodate all our abused, neglected, and homeless animals), aren’t we preventing future generations of dogs from suffering, being fought, bred, abused, neglected, and killed? Isn’t it important to end the cycle as swiftly as possible? And if so, how much future suffering do we have to prevent in order to make one generation’s suffering “worth it”? Not easy questions to ask, but in my humble opinion it’s important to keep the long view in mind, not only the current state.

        As an aside, I strongly supported the puppy mill bill in Misourri (which, by the way, is the #1 puppy-producing state in the US) not because it limited the number of breeding dogs that a single facility can have, but because it put into law things that should be a given– adequate space to stand up and turn around, mandatory vet checks for animals, access to water at all times, etc. Having worked on the background investigations for Prop B at HSUS, I read the state and federal inspection reports of many of these breeders, that despite countless egregious acts of misconduct, neglect, and abuse (dead puppies, puppies outdoors without adequate shelter in freezing conditions, animals sitting in two-inch deep piles of excrement), were able to keep breeding. After all– isn’t it cheaper to neglect the dogs’ welfare as long as they continue to produce cute, profitable puppies? In these investigations, we found that the biggest breeders were the ones who were most likely to have huge numbers of animal welfare violations and yet receive no penalties for them. There was a very clear correlation between kennel size and conditions within when it came to large facilities– small facilities were mixed, but more likely to be acceptable (as far as breeding facilities go).

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        • Like! Aleksandra – I was in support of the bill too. It really doesn’t regulate but create minimum standards of conditions that the mill must meet. Isn’t it telling that they don’t want to have minimum standards and are fighting to repeal the bill? I guess working a few hours more a day to keep the cages clean, provide fresh water, etc. is too much when all they have to do is sit back and sell puppies and rake in the dollars.

          I know where my breeding dog ended up. In a good home with me. I hope many others do as well.

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          • There absolutely should be minimum standards. It’s kind of ghastly there aren’t any. I know in my province there are a couple very infamous mill owners and puppy brokers that have managed to avoid penalty. The SPCA tries to charge them but they somehow always get off. It’s not right.

            Animal cruelty laws in general are much too soft. I don’t know about the laws elsewhere and here it differs by province. But generally at most someone just faces a fine. They don’t even necessarily get shut down permanently. It’s disgusting.

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        • I am not disagreeing at all with the idea these places need to be shut down. There need to be more regulations, more inspections, more enforcement, more, more, more. We can’t be too careful when it comes to legislating such large, for-profit kennels. Yes, there are some that are great – but there are many, many more that are not so great. I’d rather be extra cautious and prevent future problems as much as possible.

          I am not familiar enough with American laws and structures to really say much about this particular piece of legislation. I don’t want to comment on it because I simply do not know how it works.

          So yes, I think we NEED to shut down places that violate ethical treatment of animals. But we need to do it in a responsible way.

          Does that make sense?

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  5. This kind of thing makes my blood boil.

    Totally agree about the mentality of it ‘just being an animal’.

    Here in England the papers report on people who have been cruel to an animal and what the stupid judge doles out as what he thinks as punishment. I think it should be a life ban of any living thing.

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    • Absolutely. But is a life ban enough? I don’t know. The Canadian animal cruelty laws are severely in need of an update. The worst this company can get is a couple thousand dollars in fines. It doesn’t seem right.

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  6. The vet refused to do the job because the dogs were healthy but didn’t think of the alternatives… which were:

    Having some idiot like they guy above who did such a hack job that some of the dogs suffered tremendously before they died. Letting the dogs slowly die of starvation because they could not afford to feed them.

    The vet could have prevented both of those things.

    Its a sucky situation either way, and I think the company should be punished for the way in which is what handled, but we should take it for what it is – just a couple of people lacking intelligence that made the wrong choice when they were trying to get rid of dogs instead of a problem with large kennels, or with sled dog companies that needs sweeping legislation to prevent it from happening.

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    • It is a sucky situation. I just don’t think I can place any blame on the vet. Even if he suspected this may happen – which we don’t know – it’s not fair to put it on his shoulders.

      Is it just a couple people? That’s my question. Is this what happens when companies shut down? Is this something we as a society are okay with?

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      • Kristine, I agree that in no way does the responsibility lay with the vet in this case. I am not a vet but I imagine there is a code of ethics that says you do not kill healthy, non-threatening animals because they have become a financial burden. Hard stop. Saying that there is a responsibility is to foresee likely alternative outcomes and act based on those is not logical. I can think of a lot of “if” scenarios to illuminate my point, but I will let people draw those parallels for themselves.

        I don’t want to fully enter this debate because I feel that there has been a lot of healthy dialogue already and I have little else to contribute, but I did want to say:
        1. I think your post is very eloquent and I wish you wouldn’t always say such self-effacing things;
        2. I don’t think this is just a few people, I think this sort of tradeoff and decision-making is very alive and well in many businesses (I know you are not comfortable with going too far down this path, but factory farming is the big, smelly, ugly gorilla in the room here); and
        3. I am surprised at how many people have piped up to semi-defend this kennel’s decision, and how to many people it seems to feel acceptable to use live, sentient, intelligent beings as tools / assets without any regard to their basic welfare and then dispose of them when they are no longer useful or profitable. This shocks me with sled dogs, it shocks me with commercial breeding, and it shocks me with the animals-for-food industry. I guess it goes to show how far removed my safe little bubble is from much of the world.

        Thanks for this and your very-often thoughtful and thought-provoking writing.

        Aleksandra
        follow our foster: loveandaleash.wordpress.com

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  7. Kristine, I commend you for approaching this subject. I realize it is highly emotionally-charged, not to mention something of a political sticking point. I’m from the U.S., where, as it’s already been mentioned here, we have some toothless laws as well (and too many cases of animal brutality). To me, animal welfare is a global concern; no matter where an injustice may occur, we are all part of it.

    Sam, I have two questions for you: are you aware that EVERY dog requires attention and love from humans, that any dog will prefer the kind touch or word from a human over food or water? Just because one is not socialized for particular behaviors, does not mean the dog does not need human interaction and humane care. Secondly; are you a vet? I don’t think I’d care to even become an acquaintance with one who would intentionally down 100 healthy, viable dogs, simply because a business asked them to. To blame a vet, for not having/following what you imply would be foresight that the business would perform such vile acts as they did – too far-fetched. The blame falls squarely and solely on the people within this business who chose to take on too many dogs, then kill them afterward.

    Furthermore, ANY business that takes on a large number of animals will indeed experience difficulties in providing well for those animals. Basic natural laws of numbers and common sense dictate this. Dog sled businesses, puppy mills (or if you prefer, large-scale breeders) — any of them, place profit over concern for the animal once they increase their numbers as such. The animals are left to suffer the consequences.

    Pamela’s comments are right-on; thank you, Pamela! Spoken clearly and precisely. My concern with this issue is not to slam dog sledding businesses, or any business with a high number of animals, nor even those that use animals for entertainment; I am more disturbed by the placement of profit over animals, the greed that inevitably provokes behaviors such as in what happened. As long as there are no strong regulating guidelines and laws, as long as we excuse those who commit these acts, blame indirect parties such as the employee – or the veterinarian – and as long as we turn our heads away from events that upset or sicken us, the cruelty will continue. This is where we all share responsibility.

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  8. I read that story yesterday with a lot of emotion and a lot of thoughts swirling in my head. I do think serious repercussions are in order. They weren’t just “stupid” not thinking about the future when they increased their pack by that much for such a short span of time. A good amount of greed was involved. If they couldn’t care for the dogs after it was over even long enough to sell them to another outfit, then they had no business in buying them in the first place.

    I agree with you, too, that just shutting them all down isn’t the right answer. Here in the States we have a very vocal propaganda group, Grey2K, who wants to end all Greyhound racing. However, they don’t care at all about taking care of the DOGS. They went to a great deal of trouble to get a law passed in Massachusetts a few years ago that banned dog racing and caused several kennels to be shut down. Thousands of dogs had to be placed in adoption groups, and people all over the country stepped up to take those dogs in, but did Grey2K do anything to help those dogs find homes after that tracks were closed. No. They did nothing besides move on somewhere else to cause trouble. The tracks will all close eventually because they aren’t making money, but when one track closes and dogs have to be placed, that’s much less of a burden. It’s not exactly the same thing here, but it is a similar example. If all those outfits closed, those dogs would have to go somewhere.

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    • Right, it’s not something that can just be decided lightly and without consequence. Is it the right thing to do? Absolutely. Greyhound racing is fairly appalling. But it needs to be done slowly and with care. These things take time to do properly, but it is time well spent. To use about fifty cliches. 🙂

      Thanks for responding. This discussion has been interesting and I am so glad it could be carried out so respectfully!

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  9. Kim,

    I was a little confused by your questions so please forgive me if my answers wander a bit.

    In answer to question number one:

    EVERY dog requires human interaction in the idea that they can not feed and defend themselves, and in some cases need grooming as well. That is all they “require.” Anything else is simply icing on the cake and personal preference.

    Were these dogs not receiving human interaction? They obviously had to be fed, watered, exercised, trained… it wasn’t done by robots. The human interaction those sled dogs received while they were working is EXACTLY what they need. I am 100% sure that those dogs would rather be dead than to be sitting on someones couch. Very few dog owners (as in almost none of them) will be able to meet any of these dogs mental or physical requirements, including myself.

    They types of dogs that would rather be ‘touched’ than to eat will primarily be dogs like Golden Retrievers, Toy Dogs, Poodles, Shelties, etc. That is NOT a healthy interaction to have with a dog. Of course even if you don’t come across an individual dog that is so mentally unstable as to make a decision like that… you can CREATE a dog (through they type of interaction you choose to have with them) needy to the point that they would forgo food for attention – This would be just as cruel as trying to make sled dogs pets in my opinion.

    But perhaps you are referring to the “leave it” command that my dog knows. In that instance you would be right since he works for much less than physical touch or praise. He will pass up scraps of food outside for just a smile.

    I train dogs. In less than 3 years, I have put 5 Obedience titles on 3 different dogs and have been teaching obedience classes for the past year. We run an open pack of dogs and on any given day, I am managing a large running pack of up to 20 dogs of all sizes. I continue to sit in on lessons and class that my trainer teaches and my dog can and does act as a demo dog. These experiences have allowed me to meet wayyy too many dogs that that don’t fit into your “any/every dog.” That type of thinking leads to stitches.

    To answer question number two:
    I am not a vet. Are you?

    You would prefer to know someone who says, “I would rather 100 dogs be shot and thrown into a hole than to be put to sleep peacefully on my account” instead? I have a hard time imagining the conversation going like this…
    “I want to put 100 dogs down”
    “Are they sick?”
    “Nope”
    “Then I won’t do it”

    The vet never asked and the sled dog keepers didn’t mention the reason for getting rid of them (financial reasons) or alternative options? I doubt it. I know MY vet does not make decision for me, she just gives me all the facts and tries to persuade me to make HER choice.

    It is not solely the vets fault, but had he not refused we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    Perhaps this is a case where we must agree to disagree.

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  10. I think that when we treat a being like an item that is what he/she gets treated like: an item. A thing. An object to be used and discarded depending on our needs.

    When we choose to tether an animal we are from that point forward responsible for his or her care. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to kiss them on the head and invite them into bed with us. That does however mean that we are responsible for their well being. Food, water, shelter, exercise, whatever. These animals aren’t tractors pulling people around- they are dogs. Maybe they don’t need a big ‘ol hug but they have the capacity to suffer- they can feel pain, they can feel fear.

    This is in no way the vet’s fault. This is 100% the fault of the tour company’s. When you are responsible for an animal because he/she works for you, you bred that animal, you brought that animal into your home- you are *responsible* for the care of that animal. Killing it because of economic inconvenience is *not* the right thing to do. If you are not prepared to care for the animal you should not have him or her in the first place.

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  11. Kristine – I read your piece this morning on my Blackberry but couldn’t comment until now. Great post! Very thoughtful.

    I agree with Doggystylish. There are many reputable operators out there, but until we stop looking at dogs, cats, horses, etc. as something that serves at our leisure and our pleasure, then we will never be better as human beings. God made us stewards of the land and the animals for a reason, because we were supposed to treat them with dignity and respect. Anything that arises out of a desire for greed and power is not in my book fitting with what God intended. (BTW – I am not a God-fearing rightwing Christian nut job. I just happen to believe we were meant to care for things in a way that was in accordance with the harmony of nature.)

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    • Like others said about, who wants to live in a world where it is okay to treat other living beings as objects from which to profit? I have received more joy in my life from treating and viewing animals as sentient creatures with feelings and abilities.

      A thing that also bothers me a little now that I have had more time to think, is the idea that these dogs could never be pets. I don’t want to compare sled dogs with fighting dogs, that is not my intention, but it seems to me that if many of the Michael Vick dogs could be rehabilitated then perhaps many sled dogs could be as well. I know the two are not equal and the sled dogs were not abused but I also believe there is a way, with the right person, with the right resources and time…

      It’s not an easy thing but is it not at least possible? But I guess the thing is this company didn’t want to spend the time to find the right people. They didn’t want to see if other sledding companies would take them on. They didn’t want to wait one more day, spend one more cent on food. That’s what it all comes down to. Laziness and not seeing a value in keeping the dogs alive.

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  13. This post also made me think of all the individual people who have their pets put down for reasons like they are moving, or the pet has become an inconvenience for what ever reason. Much like the man with the puppies they believe that their pet is better off dead. Food for thought.

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