Hannah Rudderham
Hannah Rudderham
March 2, 2020

Mission Pawsible giving animals a voice and rallying against sled dog abuse

More than 20 people gathered outside the New Brunswick Legislature | Photo by Hannah Rudderham

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Mission Pawsible protestors stood outside the New Brunswick Legislature on Friday protesting commercial dog sledding.

“Living life just to pull a sled, many dogs will end up dead,” the protestors, led by Stephanie Thornton, sang. 

More than 20 people gathered, sharing stories and facts about the legislation surrounding commercial dog sledding. 

Seven other protests of the same nature took place simultaneously across the country.  

The protestors explained that commercial sled dogs are often tethered outside for 24 hours a day, surrounded in their own feces and alone.  

“Through the frigid cold winters and scorching hot summers—meanwhile the authorities would be contacted if they were our dogs which we hold dear to us, trapped in a car or left in our backyards. There is no difference, no exceptions,” Wendy Hallihan said. 

In 2010, in British Columbia, 56 sled dogs were slaughtered by tour operator, Robert Fawcett, due to a “slow winter tourist season.”

“If you're not crying already, I don't know what else to say.” 

Seven other protests of the same nature took place simultaneously across the country | Photo by Hannah Rudderham

But this is not the extent of sled dog abuse. The provincial legislature states that a person in care and control of a dog may not tether it outside for more than 30 minutes between 11PM and 6AM and the person must be within 25 meters of the dog at all times. 

However, someone violating that restriction may not be convicted of an offense if their restriction is consistent with generally accepted practices or procedures for such an activity.

This exception is made because 24-hour tethering is “generally accepted” in the sled dog industry. 

“A dog is a dog is a dog,” Susan Henley said. “Why are they any different? These dogs are suffering at the end of chains.” 

Halfway through the protest, the attention was directed towards a husky mix, Nila, walking towards the crowd. She was cold. Her owner had even provided her with pads to keep her feet warm.

“Can you imagine this poor pup [who] has a hard time standing in the cold, licking its paws … being tied and chained for 24 hours?” Hallihan said.

Mission Pawsible will be holding another rally at the New Brunswick legislature on May 2 focusing on backyard breeders and puppy mills. They want the community to join their fight and help give a voice to animals facing abuse.

“Animals have no voice. They can't ask for help. They can’t ask for freedom, they can't ask for protection,” Thornton said.

“Humanity must be their voice.” 

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