Speak Up for Sled Dogs in Ontario Government Consultation

Note: consultation is now closed.

Ontario is consulting the public on updates to animal welfare regulations that apply to outdoor dogs in the province. The proposed updates are extensive and long overdue, covering topics from grooming and nail care to requirements for outdoor housing. While several of the proposed updates are a significant improvement from the current standards, many do not go far enough. Under the proposed new rules, dogs could still be chained outdoors for 23 ½ hours per day—which is obviously not fair to these smart, social companion animals.

Continuous outdoor tethering is standard at commercial sled dog operations, but is well-known for inflicting both emotional and physical suffering. The cruelty caused by commercial sled dog operations in other ways has also been well documented. Animal Welfare Services, the provincial animal law enforcement agency, recently seized over 200 dogs from Windrift Adventures, a dog sledding operation in Moonstone, Ontario. In 2018, video footage from Windrift revealed injured and sick dogs kept on short chains with inadequate housing. More recently, a CTV W5 segment highlighted the tortured life of sled dogs at these types of facilities. These animals spend the vast majority of their lives at the end of a chain, sometimes in extreme hot or cold weather conditions. They have few opportunities to run and socialize—often only when they take customers out on rides.

As a part of its review of the standards of care for outdoor dogs, Animal Justice is calling on Ontario to enact a ban on the use of sled dogs at commercial operations. In the alternative, or until a ban can take effect, the province should also consider putting robust regulations in place to ensure that these animals can live a better life. This includes mandatory licensing and inspections to oversee the dog sledding industry. Animal Justice also supports an end to continuous tethering, stronger outdoor shelter requirements, and substantial weather protection requirements. 

Take Action

Please take a moment to write to Ontario at animalwelfareconsultation@ontario.ca to express your support for more robust protection of outdoor dogs in the province. You can learn more about the proposed updates and review our suggested feedback using the public comment guide below. Or, use our action page to have your say.

Help us put the best interests of outdoor dogs on the agenda by demanding stronger protections for these vulnerable animals. The deadline for submissions is March 7, 2022


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