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Terrible: 86 Sled Dogs Dumped Into the Shelter System in Whistler

This bonehead is an idea: Trying to run a large sled-dog business in a place where winter is short.

 |  Jul 19th 2013  |   6 Contributions


The Whistler Sled Dog Co., which adopted the survivors of an infamous 2010 dog-sled massacre by a company called Outdoor Adventures Whistler, is calling it quits. Eighty-six sled dogs are headed to shelters and rescues in Canada and need new homes -- and if you think a highly energetic sled dog makes for a successful adoption, you've got another thing coming.

We know that a lot of people involved in the latest chapter of this mess care for dogs. The real bonehead in this might just be the idea of running a large dog sled business during the short season to begin with. First, dogs were massacred three years ago because business slumped, and now 86 are heading into the shelter system, according to the Province.

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You might remember how this whole thing started in 2010, when Robert Fawcett, an employee of Outdoor Adventures Whistler, euthanized more than 50 dogs in April 2010 after business fell off after the Olympics. The act outraged everyone -- including us. The remaining dogs were taken in by Whistler Sled Dog Co., which attempted to run a humane operation. 

“It has been a struggle financially,” said Sue Eckersley of WSDC. “It’s become clear that it’s very difficult to operate dog sledding in Whistler with a short winter season.” 

The board voted to call it quits and is sending the 86 dogs, many of whom were puppies during the massacre, into the shelter system. Most will go to the shelter Whistler Animals Galore, a respected and experienced shelter. Fourteen have gone to adoption centers with the B.C. SPCA as well. 

“It’s a disappointment. It’s sad that it falls on nonprofit organizations to pick up the pieces,” Marcie Moriarty, the SPCA’s chief prevention and enforcement officer, told the Province.

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An ad for the company during the 2013 season.

Successful adoptions won't be easy. Sure, demand for sled dogs will probably be high, but that's only because people like the idea of getting a sled dog. Once the dog is home, things might change.

“Like all sled dogs, they will need increased socialization, a customization to cultural sounds and smells -- even just walking on concrete is something very foreign to them,” the SPCA’s general manager of shelter operations Bob Buch told the Whistler Question. “The dogs we have taken are quite friendly, they just need some adjustment to being in a non-sled dog setting.”

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Fortunately, the WAG and the SPCA are committed to not being reckless in placing the animals. 

“People have to be cautious when they’re looking to adopt. This is not a novelty pet so people can say ‘Oh, I have one of the Whistler sled dogs.’ That’s a big, big fear," Moriarty told the Whistler Question. "I’m sure that WAG and us at the SPCA will be hypervigilant to match these dogs with the right home environment.”

Moriarty also has some words for the industry as a whole: Take care of your dogs for the life of your dogs. 

"We’d like to see this avoided in the future if people in the industry would adhere to the sled dog code of practice, starting with the proper socialization and right through to the birth to death plan.”

Via the Province; photos via the Whistler Sled Dog Co.'s Facebook page

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