New protections established for BC sled dogs

A year after 56 sled dogs were uncovered in a mass grave near Whistler, the British Columbia government has introduced a revised “code of practice” for the sled dog industry.

The Sled Dog Code of Practice sets standards for the care of dogs used for sledding, including new limits on tethering, and stricter regulations on the use of euthanasia, The Canadian Press reports.

But many believe the changes don’t go nearly far enough.

The British Columbia SPCA uncovered 56 dead dogs last year, some of which had been shot, some with their throats cut. The mass grave came to light after an employee filed a worker’s compensation claim saying he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after killing the animals in a company-ordered cull.

“This document, both the code and the regulations, will help inform the industry (and) provide minimum standards that will improve working dogs’ welfare,” said Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations for the SPCA.

Moriarty, who helped develop the code, said it will lead to an end to near continuous tethering, which has been one of the main concerns about the industry. Under the new regulations sled dogs must get at least one opportunity a day to be off their tethers to socialize and exercise.

The new code imposes no limits on the number of dogs a sled dog operation can have, and it doesn’t stop sledding operations from culling their workers (dogs), but it emphasizes that killing sled dogs shouldn’t be used as a primary means of population control.

(Photo: British Columbia SPCA)

Drawn to mayhem: It’s Sausage the riot dog

A stray dog in Athens is becoming a celebrity due to his tendency to show up at riots — braving tear gas and fire bombs to join in the mayhem.

Sausage — though even his name is in dispute — is a ginger-colored mutt, who, like other strays in the city, is registered but owned by no one and allowed to roam the streets at will.

(Unlike places such as Fayetteville, North Carolina.)

Whenever there’s a demonstration, Sausage shows up — always siding with the protesters, observers say.

He has ”appeared on the front of just about every newspaper in Greece and wagged his tail on TV screens and websites around the world,” Reuters reports:

“On Wednesday when state workers marched against government cuts, Sausage was in his usual spot at the front, egging on the crowd with a hearty “Gav!” (Greek for “Woof!”), tripping up baton-wielding officers as they charged down the steps.”

The Reuters article says Sausage (Loukanikos in Greek) is also known as Kanellos, or Cinnamon, and as Dog No. 1842, according to his registration with the city’s Stray Animal Service.

Anna Makri, head of the department, said it was once sued because Sausage bit someone. ”He’s a loveable dog, but he’s a little bit hot-blooded,” she said.

Even with that, though, he and the other estimated 2,000 stray dogs in Athens aren’t rounded up, jailed or euthanized. Instead, the city pays to feed them, registers them, gives them collars and tags, spays, neuters, microchips and vaccinates them — then releases them back to the streets.

“In most European countries, they solve this problem with euthanasia. But Greek culture is against that. Our law is about rehabilitating the dogs,” said Makri. “People here take care of them and love them. They are like everyone’s dog.”

Even with the financial crisis and all the unrest, the stray dog program, set up in 2003, continues.

The program was briefly interrupted by a reorganization in recent months, but it has resumed, according to Deputy Mayor Angelos Antonopoulos, who is a veterinarian.

“The municipality takes especial care of him because he’s so lovable.,” Antonopoulos said of Sausage. ”And he’s also a symbol — a symbol of freedom.”

(Photo:  Yannis Behrakis /Reuters)