Listen to Voices Carry for Animals' Humane Mushing Segment: November 21st 2017

Penny Stone and the Victoria Humane Society have been integral assets to large racing and touring kennel seizures like Whistler and Thunder Bay. 

Please give them a like, a follow, and consider donating to them so they can continue doing fantastic rescue, rehabilitation, and advocacy work for sled dogs!
The August Fund is one of the primary saviors for the retired sled dog in Alaska. Please consider donating to them so that they can acquire more fencing (as they do not chain), and help more elderly sled dogs who require veterinary care, and find forever homes for these amazing athletes.
 The Problem With Self-Regulation
After the November 2016 world premiere of the Sled Dogs documentary, industry mushers who chain their dogs once again renewed their efforts to appear humane to the general public. In the first few months of 2017, we have seen the creation of one pro-chaining organization - the “Canadian Coalition for Sled Dogs” – and the revitalization of another – the “Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon.” The CCSD is made up of members and supporters of a kennel which chains 180 sled dogs, while the DPSAY’s current spokesperson proudly chains 130 sled dogs of his own.  

Though both organizations have stated to the media that they are interested in bettering husbandry standards for sled dogs and heightening animal cruelty laws in their favor, they both fully support mass chain warehousing as a primary means of containment. This flies directly in the face of humane mushers looking to make positive changes in our sport by only supporting integrated, ethical housing and full family immersion for sled dogs.

Legitimate animal welfare organizations, such as the Vancouver Humane Society, fight to free sled dogs from chains - not legitimize their imprisonment. The VHS "remains concerned about the inherent poor welfare that is widespread in these industries and wants to see them banned.  Sled dogs can spend most of their days tethered to posts when they are not pulling sleds, which denies them the opportunity to engage in normal behaviours.  Research has shown that this causes frustration and can lead to abnormal behaviours such as aggression or hyper-vigilance (leading to lack of sleep).  Tethered sled dogs are known to engage in rock-eating, indicative of frustration."

The National Humane Education Society has also taken a stance against chaining sled dogs. "Despite modern advances in companion animal care, many of today’s dog owners remain trapped in the faulty mindset that a dog is too dirty, unruly, and 'wild' to be allowed indoors. As a result, dogs continue to be subjected to the isolation and frustration caused by life on a chain," states the NHES. "The conditions under which competitive sled dogs are born and trained are questionable at best. When not training or racing, many are kept in kennels or on chains outside. Puppies who do not make the grade and dogs retired from racing may find themselves relinquished to animal shelters. In Alaska, animal care laws do not apply to competitive sled dogs. No dog deserves to live his or her daily life on a chain, and no dog should be forced to risk his or her life and well-being to win prizes and fame for humans."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals stated last December that, "from Alaska to Colorado and throughout Canada, dogs used in racing and in commercial (tourist) sledding operations are treated like replaceable equipment. When not pulling loads for long distances, dogs, often dozens of them, are stored like inventory in muddy fields chained to metal posts or ramshackle plastic barrels or dilapidated wood 'houses.' Breeders churn dogs out, who will then spend most of their lives at the end of a chain, denied any comfort whatsoever or companionship with a family."

The Humane Society of the United States has been a long-time advocate of educating the public in regard to the problems with dog chaining, and - more specifically - has helped with numerous sled dog abuse cases throughout the United States within the last decade. "In addition to animal welfare concerns, tethering has been proven to be a high risk factor in serious dog bites and attacks. Tethering is unsafe for dogs and for the public, and it is important for advocates and officials to understand this connection, so they can incorporate tethering regulations into effective community dog management strategies."  The HSUS also states that "dogs are naturally social beings who need interaction with humans and/or other animals. Intensive confinement or long-term restraint can severely damage their physical and psychological well-being. An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously chained or intensively confined in any way, becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious and often aggressive. It is common for continuously tethered dogs to endure physical ailments as a result of being continuously tethered. Their necks can become raw and sore, and their collars can painfully grow into their skin. They are vulnerable to insect bites and parasites, and are at high risk of entanglement, strangulation, and harassment or attacks by other dogs or people." 

The United States Department of Agriculture issued a statement in the July 2, 1996, Federal Register against tethering: "Our experience in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has led us to conclude that continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane. A tether significantly restricts a dog's movement. A tether can also become tangled around or hooked on the dog's shelter structure or other objects, further restricting the dog's movement and potentially causing injury." In 1997, the USDA ruled that people and organizations regulated by the Animal Welfare Act cannot keep dogs continuously chained.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has stated, "never tether or chain your dog because this can contribute to aggressive behavior." In addition, the Centers for Disease Control concluded in a study that the dogs most likely to attack are male, unneutered, and chained. According to the Association of Shelter Veterinarian’s Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters, "tethering is an unacceptable method of confinement for any animal and has no place in humane sheltering. Constant tethering of dogs in lieu of a primary enclosure is not a humane practice."

As you can plainly see, legitimate animal welfare organizations do not support the primary accepted cruelty that is so commonplace in the sled dog industry - chaining, or "tethering," as the industry likes to sugarcoat it. Please be aware of where your money and allegiance is going when choosing non-profit organizations to support. The Canadian Coalition for Sled Dogs and the Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon support chaining sled dogs - do you?