Dog Sledding: A Cruel Industry
Dog sledding has been around for an extremely long time. Invented in the 10th century by the native and Inuit people of northern Canada, dogs have been used to pull sleds to travel and hunt in areas where there was too much snow and ice to travel any other way. In modern times, dog sledding happens for entertainment and not everyone is aware of how cruel it is.
The annual Iditarod race in Alaska runs through 1000 miles of some of the roughest terrain on earth, in temperatures that drop well below zero. Teams of dogs run roughly the equivalent of four marathons in a single day for 7-10 days straight. The dogsled drivers compete for substantial financial rewards while viewing their dogs as little more than snowmobiles with fur. About one thousand dogs start the Iditarod but more than one third are “dropped” every year due to illness, injury and exhaustion. In total, more than 150 dogs have been lost during one race alone. Furthermore, there is no requirement for owners to report how many dogs are killed once they decide they are no longer useful. As such, the true death toll for this race is unknown.
A life off the trails is just as miserable. Dogs used in commercial dog sledding are typically kept inside cramped kennels and many live chained to the end of a six-foot tether. They are deprived of everything meaningful to dogs- exercise, play, mental stimulation, and companionship. In 2019, an undercover eyewitness working in the dog sledding industry found dogs denied veterinary care, extremely exhausted and dehydrated and kept constantly chained with inadequate shelter. As previously mentioned, there is no requirement to report how many dogs are killed when they are deemed no longer useful. The dogs who escape these barbaric deaths are taken to shelters that become quickly overwhelmed with unwanted dogs when sledding season is over. One such shelter calls this phenomenon “the spring husky dump”.
Fortunately, many fun winter activities don’t cause suffering to dogs including skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating and much more! Remember any time animals are used as objects to produce profits, in under-regulated industries, their well-being is in danger. Please do not support any dogsled races or tourist attractions that include dogsled rides. Let sponsors of dogsled races know that you do not support businesses that are involved in such a cruel industry! Join animal activists in working towards a great goal- ending the unnecessary, unethical commercial dog sledding industry for good.