Letter to the Editor

Howl for Yukon sled dogs Speak out against Yukon’s sled dog abuse and exploitation. Within the last year, visitors to the Daily WatchDog news…

Howl for Yukon sled dogs

Speak out against Yukon’s sled dog abuse and exploitation.

Within the last year, visitors to the Daily WatchDog news page (on the Animal Advocates Society of British Columbia’s website) have become increasingly aware of the plight of sled dogs who live in our neighbouring Yukon.

We are aware that the few local activists who speak up for sled dogs practically never receive responses from the main supporters of what we, as an animal advocacy society, view as being sled dog abuse/exploitation.

We are specifically referring to the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race and the territorial Tourism department.

We are aware that unknown numbers of Yukon residents are afraid to speak up in a public forum on behalf of the dogs.

We are aware that a good many of your citizens (including Yukon businesses and governments) actively support this perceived cruelty.

And just what exactly are the specific allegations of cruelty we are concerned about?

To start with, whether we are referring to Yukon Quest mushers, sled-dog tour operators, hobby mushers, or First Nations people who mush dogs, most sled dogs in the Yukon live most of their lives at the end of short chains next to shabby plywood dog houses, which would barely keep them warm in the winter.

We are aware that most of these mushers have no lifelong commitments to their faithful dogs (many of them, including puppies, are apparently sold, given away or culled because of this irresponsible breeding).

We are shocked that Tourism Yukon and other government departments, Whitehorse, and some First Nations governments support and promote an organization like the Yukon Quest, especially in light of the Quest not being concerned over the issue of dog culling by Yukon Quest mushers (who are primarily residents of the Yukon and Alaska).

How many dogs have been injured and killed in the 24 years (to this date) that the Quest has been run?

We know that three dogs — Jewel, Hope and Melville were killed in the 2007 race alone.

We are concerned that the Yukon Quest is promoted to school children in Yukon classrooms and that Yukon media (especially CBC Yukon) have given the Quest an ‘easy ride’ for so many years.

We are also appalled at your territory’s abysmal animal protection laws and negligible enforcement, with stories such as the Beaver Creek cat colony, the dozens of dogs who were shot near Dawson City in 2006, and the neglect of some of your territory’s horses, some of whom fend for themselves through Yukon winters.

Your Humane Society Yukon was started in 1987 because of a Yukon outfitter allowing his horses to starve to death.

For all these reasons, we are asking our many worldwide supporters to speak up for Yukon sled dogs (and other animals) by letting Tourism Yukon and Yukon businesses know that they will think twice before making plans to visit your territory (We hear that the Yukon, animal welfare aside, is a very beautiful place.)

Animal Advocates Society of BC is proud to help speak up for mistreated animals, wherever they may live.

Judy Stone, Animal Advocates Society of British Columbia