Mushers as a group know more about dog care than any non professional pet owner, and often times know a lot more about proper feeding, proper care of working dogs, and proper training than at least 95 per cent of veterinarians – a vet with a high level of experience with working sleddogs is a rarity, and mushers who need help seek them out so their dogs get the best care possible.
I voluntarily started having a vet inspection of my kennel last year, not because I thought my dogs needed better care, but so that others could be confident that my dogs were in fact, well cared for, and because my local vet was not well experienced with working sleddogs, backed up her inspection by having a peer inspection as well – (both the vet and my peer used guidelines from “Mush With Pride” and the OFSS to do the inspection).
The vet who inspected my kennel commented, “these dogs live a wonderful life,” after she had seen how happy, fit, eager to run in a team, healthy, well socialized, and well adjusted my dogs are).
I belong to a group of fellow mushers that helped the BC government formulate the new laws covering the care of sleddogs and most of our recommendations have been incorporated into the new anti cruelty legislation, the toughest in Canada.
Every year I try to improve the care my sleddogs receive, and most mushers I’ve met, and I’ve met 1000’s of them over the last 34 years that I’ve been mushing, have the same loving, caring attitudes towards their dogs as I do.
The press is guilty of continuing to cover the comments from anti-mushing, animal “rights” groups, the SPCA, and the uneducated people that either know nothing or very little about the subject or have a monetary interest in perpetuating the myth of sleddog abuse, while seldom if ever, contacting people in the know, like the people that belong to the same organization that I do, or even the provincial government to find out what actually went down during the consultations that led up to the new laws on animal welfare.
Those who don’t have a monetary interest in perpetuating the myth should visit a racing or touring kennel to see how well the dogs are kept and how happy the dogs are before they start believing the people who do have a monetary interest in the myth, the people who have never “been there, done that”, or the press who dwell on and exaggerate the sensational.
There are few mushers in the world and it seems an impossible task to spread the truth from so few voices to counteract the lies and exaggerations that seem to come from so many.