Despite new sled dog "standards of care" regulations that were released today (Monday, Feb. 20) it remains legal for sled dog operators to humanely kill healthy dogs if re-homing efforts have been unsuccessful.
Under Part 4 of the new regulations (available for download at www.gov.bc.ca/agri/taskforce.html), an operator must not allow a sled dog to be killed unless the animal is "in critical distress" or the operator has made "reasonable efforts" to re-home the animal but those efforts haven't been successful. Records must be kept about the efforts that have been made and why they were unsuccessful.
If any animals are killed, it must be carried out by a registered vet using standards of practice of veterinary medicine, by an "authorized agent" under direction of a registered vet, or under the "Guidelines for euthanasia of domestic animals by firearms" published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal in December 1991, the regulations state.
The death must occur "quickly, and without any unnecessary pain, suffering or distress," the regulations continue. "An operator must ensure that a sled dog is dead before leaving the sled dog's body."
A "Life Cycle Plan" for each dog is also one of the new requirements, with operators required to lay out plans for re-homing after the animal's working life is over.
The new standards of care and Canada's first Sled Dog Code of Practice were developed by a working group including Provincial officials, veterinarians, the B.C. SPCA and sled dog industry representatives in an effort to "enhance the health and welfare of all sled dogs in B.C.," according to a press release issued by the Province.
The new regulations are enforceable under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Some parts are effective immediately, while other regulations will come into effect on Oct. 1 to give operators time to transition.The code of practice addresses issues such as health and welfare, nutrition, housing, husbandry and transportation.
See Thursday's Question for more on this story.