Animal rights attorney Doris Lin calls for the end of dog sledding tours to prevent another massacre of “unnecessary” sled dogs. Read her condemnation of the company’s plan for future slaughters. — Global Animal

Doris Lin is an animal rights attorney and the Vice President of Legal Affairs for the Bear Education and Resource Group.

Doris’ Animal Rights blog, Doris Lin

News of a sled dog tour company in British Columbia, Canada killing 100 sled dogs is horrifying people around the world. A slump in tourism after the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 resulted in the dogs being killed less than two months after the games ended.

A criminal investigation by the British Columbia SPCA will focus on whether the dogs suffered long, miserable deaths at the hands of an employee who shot the dogs multiple times and killed some dogs with a knife, but this would be a tragedy no matter how quick or painless their deaths. The company says that in the future, they’ll take the dogs to a veterinarian to be killed. In other words, the company has no qualms about killing excess dogs and plans to continue doing so in the future. They just want to make sure to avoid all this negative publicity.

(Update: The identity of the individual who killed the dogs has been revealed as Bob Fawcett, an “award-winning dog sledder” and part owner of the sled dog tour company. Fawcett is also Vice President of Mush with P.R.I.D.E., an organization that is “dedicated to enhancing the care and treatment of sled dogs.”)

To animal rights activists, it’s yet another example of excess animals being killed after they have outlived their usefulness to their exploiters.

Animal advocates have known for a long time that mushers in sled dog races regularly kill the dogs who are not useful racing dogs. Mushers frequently breed their own dogs, and not every dog can be a winner. Former musher Ashley Keith told the Sled Dog Action Coalition:

When I was active in the mushing community, other mushers were open with me about the fact that larger Iditarod kennels frequently disposed of dogs by shooting them, drowning them or setting them loose to fend for themselves in the wilderness. This was especially true in Alaska, they said, where veterinarians were often hours away. They often used the phrase ‘Bullets are cheaper.’ And they noted that it’s more practical for mushers in remote parts of Alaska to do it themselves.

Dogs aren’t the only working animals to be killed when they’re no longer needed. Worn out carriage horses are sent to auction and uncertain fates. Race horses are regularly overbred and killed in the search for a champion.

Similarly, ten billion land animals are killed for food every year in the U.S., just to please our palates. Over 40 million animals are also killed worldwide each year for fur, and 200 million are killed annually by American hunters.

The Vancouver Humane Society is calling for a ban on sled dog tours, which would be a good step. But if you’re outraged over the deaths of these dogs, keep in mind the billions of other animals who die for our food, fashion and entertainment, and please go vegan.