2017-02-02 / Letters

Look at photos on sled team company’s website

To the editor:

I’d like to add to a story I was quoted for in a story in last week’s paper about Biddeford WinterFest, “Animal activists object to film; sled team owner responds to Biddeford WinterFest protest.”

Oxford company Ultimate Dog Sledding Experience is scheduled to make an appearance at WinterFest this Saturday, Feb. 4, on Lincoln Street in Biddeford, the former MERC site. It’s a shame to see the city of Biddeford using animals, against their will, for the entertainment of humans.

I connected Ashley Keith, a volunteer with Sled Dog Action Coalition, which, according to its website, “is committed to improving the lives of Iditarod sled dogs and providing truthful information about their treatment in the Alaskan race.”

In her own words, here is what she had to say about the event at WinterFest.

“Like so many other sled dog kennels making a living off the suffering of their animals, the Ultimate Dog Sledding Experience kennel in Oxford, Maine, keeps their (dogs) chained. A quick look at the kennel’s website (http:// ultimatedogsleddingexperience.com) shows skinny dogs chained to dilapidated houses in an overgrown yard. The average pet guardian knows that chaining is cruel, but the mushing industry works hard to portray their dogs as different, and chaining as necessary, thus allowing them to warehouse sled dogs more easily. Dogs in the sled dog racing and tourism industry are often provided with subpar – if any – veterinary care, due in part to the large numbers in which they are kept, and also due to the way mushers view them. These dogs are not seen the same as your dog at home – they do not have toys, they do not have properly structured social lives, and they do not get to be inside and live as part of the family. Just like racing greyhounds, rescued sled dogs often need to learn how to navigate stairs, walk on tile flooring, spend time calmly in an open room, walk on leash, and socialize with other dogs and people. Their sole purpose in an industry kennel is to run and make a profit for the musher, or place competitively in races.”

Simply go to the website and click on the “Meet the Dogs” tab and observe for yourself how each dog is chained to a small wooden living area. Is that how you keep your dogs? This weekend, if you decide that it’s going to be fun for a dog to pull you and your family through the snow, remember that if you support this activity, you’re supporting these living conditions.

Please don’t support sled dog racing at this weekend’s WinterFest and let that be a message to city officials that Biddeford people don’t support animal cruelty.

Emilee Orsi Gorham

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