dog sledding

Movement grows to abolish dog sledding in Canada

Dog sledding has long been considered a joyous winter activity in Canada. But as information about the terrible living conditions the dogs face continues to come to light, many are demanding change. 

Last week, approximately 30 animal rights activists protested at Mad Dogs & Englishmen, a sled dog kennel in Canmore, Alberta. 

Footage of the protest posted online this week shows the horrific conditions in which the dogs are forced to live.

They're apparently chained to metal poles and forced to live outside in freezing, filthy conditions with hardly any human contact. 

"At the first sign of visitors, the dogs run in circles, desperately pulling at the metal poles that keep them in place," wrote Sentient Media, a nonprofit media organization working to create transparency around animal rights and the planetary crisis created by global factory farming. 

"Even when activists approached the dogs, giving them back scratches and lovingly rubbing their belly, the others bark and howl in unison, crying out for someone, anyone, to set them free."

During the protest, organized by Direct Action Everywhere (DXE), activists entered the compound where the dogs were being held and chained themselves up alongside the animals. 

According to RMO Today, protestors were arrested by the RCMP and are now facing criminal charges of Break and Enter to commit Mischief and they're set to appear in court on January 15. 

On the Mad Dogs & Englishmen website, sled dogs are described as part of the family. 

"We believe that good dog care must be proactive not just reactive. This means that setting up a system that requires regular and thorough checking and care of each dog is important," their website states.

"We work closely with our vet to ensure the health and safety of each and every dog in our kennel and when out on the trail. This takes [a lot] of love, time, money and dedication but we wouldn't have it any other way."

But many aren't buying it. 

"Mushers routinely push dogs beyond their physical limits, oftentimes crippling them for life. When dogs no longer prove useful, they are shot," according to Sentient Media. 

Comments on a Facebook video posted by DXE show that many Canadians are outraged by the mistreatment. 

"What a life...on a chain running around a pole! The owners could let them loose if it is properly fenced in! What a mess....." one Facebook user wrote. 

"Dog sledding has to end✊🌱," someone else wrote. 

And while dog sled tours are extremely popular in Alberta, they're also a common winter activity across the country. 

In Yukon, many are protesting the annual 1,000‐Mile Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race. 

A petition to end the event in which dogs have died from overworking and torturous conditions has already garnered 91,481 signatures. 

"I am asking the Government of the Yukon to stop funding and supporting the deadly 1,000‐mile Yukon Quest sled dog race because it fosters the suffering, exploitation, abuse, and deaths of the defenceless animals involved," the petition description reads.

"[It] forces them to be warehoused in large dog yards where they often live unattended on a four‐foot chain twenty‐four hours a day, seven days a week." 

Dog sledding was developed by northern Indigenous peoples thousands of years ago, according to the Canadian Encyclopedia. 

But many are saying the practice has evolved to become unacceptably unethical over the years, and it must change or be abolished in order to protect the lives and wellbeing of sled dogs across Canada. 

Lead photo by

Jack Ross

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