VANCOUVER - Almost two years after a gruesome sled dog cull, the British Columbia government has introduced another layer of protection for working dogs.
The Sled Dog Code of Practice sets out standards of care for everything from health, nutrition and housing to working conditions, transportation and euthanasia.
The new rules come after the B.C. chapter of the SPCA uncovered a mass grave of 56 sled dogs near Whistler, B.C., last year.
Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations, said the regulations are a good step forward to regulate the sled dog industry and the health of working dogs.
"This document, both the code and the regulations, will help inform the industry (and) provide minimum standards that will improve working dogs' welfare."
Moriarty said the SPCA found significant concerns in some of the sled dog operations it had investigated, including traditional practices in the keeping of dogs.
Moriarty, who was part of the consultation process on the code of practice, said the use of continuous tethering has been one of the main concerns about the industry.
"We fought very hard that the regulations required at the very minimum once-daily opportunities to be off tether for both socialization and exercise," she said.
"We'd like to see a day when all sled dog operations go towards a penning-type setup."
The treatment of B.C. sled dogs came into sharp focus last January after the leak of a worker's compensation claim about a man with post-traumatic stress disorder after killing the animals.
The case drew international outrage and sparked a government task force that resulted in tougher laws and regulations.
Documents describe a bloody scene where some of the 56 dogs had been shot, while others had their throats slit.
The SPCA is recommending one charge of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal against sled dog operator Bob Fawcett. …