On Dec. 30, 2013, the owner of 19 sled dogs voluntarily surrendered them to the SPCA in Dawson Creek. This wasn’t a spontaneous event; it was the result of an ongoing investigation. The name of the individual who has surrendered the dogs is confidential. Wendy Davies, manager of the BC SPCA South Peace Branch says, “We had been working with him for some time, for compliance with the new sled dog code.”
The new code became effective Oct. 1, 2012, and Davies says in this case, they were looking primarily at part two, division two; and part five divisions 22 and 23. Division two focuses on dog health, including food and water care; grooming and nail care; socialization; exercise and illness or injury care. The other areas of the new code where BC SPCA was investigating for this case, was in regards to record keeping and the creation of a life cycle plan for each sled dog, outlining why they are suitable for sled dog work, how they will be retired and how to maximize the success of rehoming. Wendy Davies explains the new sled dog regulations require that, “the animal owner must do things to prepare the dog to be rehomed when their career is finished.”
Unfortunately, this was not being done for these 19 sled dogs. Other main areas of concern for the BC SPCA were the dogs were deemed “ill equipped for extreme temperatures” with short coats. Davies says, “The surrendered sled dogs are in ongoing care and rehabilitation for lack of socialization. The owner had not exposed them to anything other than the life they were leading. No new people, new places; no indoors.”
Davies explains to turn these dogs into family dogs is going to be “a huge amount of work, and it is putting a lot of strain on the shelter and the community. We need many man hours to get them ready to go.”
The main socialization issue the dogs exhibit is fear, and with all the hard work being put in, Davies explains some of the dogs are responding quickly, and a few are in foster homes already. “We are optimistic,” she says, “We will continue to work hard on these guys.”
This amount of medium sized dogs brought to the facility all at once, has put a strain on the shelter and not just with manpower, but also financially. All of the 19 dogs needed to be vaccinated and de-wormed, which alone has cost the shelter $15,000. “The expense is overwhelming,” says Davies.
There are ways for folks to help out. They are looking for toys, financial donations and also foster homes. If you would like to help please call the Dawson Creek BC SPCA at 250-782-2444. “It’s a heart breaking situation. They are beautiful animals, who are winning our hearts,” says Davies.