Having recently read the article “New teeth for Dog Act” published in News North, I fear I am not at all impressed with the speculation that Sled teams and Mushers may wind up exempt from Animal Cruelty provisions contained in the new NWT Animal Protection Act. Every living animal has the right to warm shelters, meaning insulated dog houses which are required in sub-zero temps, high quality daily food to maintain body condition and weight, to fight sub-zero temperatures, a daily fresh supply of water, human interaction and proper medical care. In the Beaulieu case and the Pokiak case, all of this was withheld from the “sled” dogs. In the Beaulieu case the CROWN chose not to prosecute and Pokiak was not even charged. Both incidents are a total disgrace. Please refer Archived materials.
This left picture is of: 44 dog sled team of Archie Beaulieu whihc had to be destroyed.
There is no argument that mushers and sled teams are a tradition in the North, however, the care that these animals get is often severely lacking. In the recent Iditarod, 5 dogs died. Two literally froze to death during the race, the musher admitting he noticed ICE under their fur; two were run to death, their hearts for lack of better terms exploding, and one suffocated on it’s own vomit. PETA called for a Criminal Investigation however as of this date I am unaware of any concrete response from legal or town officials in Alaska.
During summer months many sled teams are left on short chains, receive no exercise, human interaction or regular medical check ups; once winter comes these animals are often expected to perform without having received proper nutritional care and physical conditioning., resulting in avoidable injuries and often death.
Picture to left is Pokiak’s dogs now presumed dead as they cannot be located. Despite desperate attempts by Animal Cruelty Officer and the filing of the Cruelty Reports, legal intervention to save these animals was not forthcoming.
Again, there are caring team owners who do ensure the health and welfare of their animals, unfortunately that is not in all cases, and we must protect those animals who do too often face these horrific life threatening conditions.
Under the Federal Criminal Code of Canada it is illegal to drag an animal behind a vehicle, even if it is a stray wandering the streets. It is illegal to abuse, torture or cause harm to any animal, through neglect, failure to provide proper food, fresh water, shelter or care. It may not be covered under the current NWT Dog Act, but it is covered under the Federal Act (which is not properly enforced here to begin with).
WHY IS THAT?? A question I have posed to the Attorney General of Canada and the Prime Minister. The current loop-hole is the word “Willful” which needed to be totally eliminated from any and all Animal Ptorections Bills, it must NOT be included in the NWT Animal Protection Legislation. That one word, leaves a wide door for people such as Beaulieu and Pokiak to escape through. Choosing NOT to feed those dogs was a willful choice made by those two persons and they got away with it, giving a clear message that anyone can pull the same trick and not pay just consequences. Those animals suffered greatly, costing them their lives.
I support Mr. McLeods, (Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, NWT) comment of importing an Act from another province, Ontario’s and B.C.’s in particular, tailoring the act adopted as Mr. McLeod says for the North. However strict added effective protection for the sled dogs is a MUST. As to adding protection for the mushers, accidents do happen yes, however if a musher fails to provide for the physical and emotional welfare of his team, or runs an animal to death, or runs an unconditioned animal, that is a totally different scenario that must be addressed and that individual must be held accountable for this neglect, which under the Federal Law and other provincial Acts constitutes abuse, which is illegal. Irresponsible mushers must be held accountable, afterall, they are not only abusing their animals, they are tarnishing the reputations of reputable caring mushers. As pointed out by the Animal Defense League in a letter which they sent to the NWT Minister of Justice, Mr. Jackson Lafferty, reputable kennels, breeders and mushers should welcome the strict monitoring and licensing of their counterparts in order to protect their own reputations. In my opinion opposition to this form of strict monitoring, inspection and licensing would indicate something to hide, would it not?
The NWT does need to tailor an Act to meet the needs of Northern Animals given the extreme harsh conditions here. The NWT has an excellent opportunity to be a shining example instead of a tarnished one.
Further, it is of extreme importance that Municipal By-Laws be reviewed and rewritten to coincide and be in harmony to the new Animal Cruelty Legislation coming for the NWT and to the standards as represented by towns and cities across the rest of Canada. As it now stands current Municipal leash laws and required dog licensing is not being enforced. As a result dogs are being rounded up and shot in many Northern communities, dumped and abandoned, chained and neglected, denied medical care, left without proper daily food, water and shelter, the owners are not being held responsible, the dog population continues to explode due to irresponsible and indiscriminate breeding. Animals are not being spayed nor neutered, and quite likely not immunized against highly communicable deseases (not communicable to humans). All of this must be addressed in the Municipal By-Laws and be upheld, to prevent further problems in the communities.
Did you know that Canine Parvovirus (deadly) becomes airborne from infected fecal matter, remains active in lawns, furnishings and clothing, for up to 7 months to 1 year. There are 5 million viruses contained in only 1 gram of excrement. Pups should start receiving their shots for Parvo as early as 6 weeks of age and continue receiving shots every 3-4 weeks to the age of 14-16 weeks. The Passive Immunity passed from the mother to pup diminishes during this timeframe, leaving the pup open to this terrible disease. Which can then be passed onto to healthy animals (if they have not received there shots) by humans who have handled sick animals, or walked in areas where contaminated feces accumulated.
Educating the public on what constitutes animal cruelty and the resultant legal consequences will go a long way to deter the decades of ongoing cruelty.
Educating the public on what constitutes proper animal welfare, care, nutrition and medical care would be doing a great public service.
For more information on what is happening in Canada please view:
How quickly we forget- In our view: Promises to update animal cruelty laws seem forgotten
The Daily Gleaner
Don’t expect animal act to change soon – Ashfield
The Daily Gleaner
Neglect case leads to a dozen charges
The Barrie Examiner
Agency will revisit dead cattle investigation
Regina Leader Post
Report animal cruelty, neglect
Longview News Journal
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