Animal welfare inspectors remove ‘large number of dogs’ from sled business in Ontario
Animal welfare inspectors have removed “a large number of dogs” from two properties associated with a dog sledding business in Ontario, the province’s solicitor general ministry confirmed on Tuesday.
Officials from Animal Welfare Services inspected properties associated with Windrift Adventures in Oro-Medonte Township, north of Barrie, and Severn Township, north of Orillia, on September 23, according to Brent Ross. – speech of the Ministry of the Solicitor General.
The dogs were rescued during the inspection, Ross said in an email to CBC Toronto on Tuesday night.
“The animals are given shelter and have received care,” Ross said in the email.
Ross declined to say what prompted the rescue of the dogs, how many animals were involved, and whether vet care was needed. He also declined to say where the dogs are currently being treated.
He said the inspection is continuing and it would be inappropriate for the ministry to provide further comments.
It is not known if Windrift Adventures is appealing the seizure of its dogs. The company has yet to respond to a request for comment.
Company investigated in 2018 for cruelty to animals
In January 2018, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), which was replaced with a new animal welfare enforcement system led by a chief animal welfare inspector, investigated on Windrift Adventures.
A month later, the OSPCA ordered the company to provide isolated shelter, clean water, proper food and veterinary care for dogs located at its site in Moonstone, Ont., In Township of ‘Oro-Medonte, following a complaint filed by two people.
Natasha Guerriero and Dylan Blake of Whitby, Ont., Said they went dog sledding and then filmed the animals.
The videos, which the couple posted on Facebook, show dozens of dogs chained in the snow, one dog limping with an apparent open wound on one of its front paws.
The couple booked their outing through a company called Toronto Adventures Inc., Guerriero said.
The tour operator has since severed ties with Windrift Adventures, and a staff member said Toronto Adventures had received death threats following the incident.
At the time, the OSPCA said the owner of the dogs had to comply with orders or the animals could be seized. He later said three dogs were in need of veterinary care and that Windrift Adventures was following orders.
“We love our dogs,” says Windrift
On their website, Windrift Adventures says their kennel is home to 225 dogs.
“We love our dogs and we love the sport of dog sledding. We love to introduce people to the sport and teach them what dog sledding has to offer,” the website says.
“There is no other way to experience what nature has to offer than to hurtle down the trail in a dog sled!”
Fern Levitt, Toronto-based documentary maker and director of Sled dogs, a documentary released in 2016, said keeping dogs in chains creates “tremendous stress” and she is grateful that all of the abused dogs have been saved.
“The industry is rife with abuse,” Levitt said.