Krabloonik, a Colorado-based dog sled outfit, found itself in the middle of a public controversy in April after letters-to-the editor in local newspapers accused it of killing some of its dogs with a gunshot to the head and then disposing of the bodies of the dogs in a pile of waste.
In an op-ed published in the Aspen Daily news, Krabloonik owner Dan MacEachen admitted that the organization killed dogs that were either at the end of their working lives as well as pups who turned out to be incapable of pulling sleds. MacEachen maintain in his op-ed however, that the dogs were killed humanely and that the whole process was legal under Colorado’s animal welfare laws.
A former employee of Krabloonik’s claimed that the business killed up to 35 dogs annually in this manner, though MacEachen said the actual number is much lower.
A number of other dog sledding outfits contacted by the media said that while this method of killing used to be the norm, that it is no longer widespread within dog sledding outfits.
Four-time Iditarod winner Martin Buser told The Aspen Daily News, for example, that if he needs to euthanize a dog he calls in a veterinarian who administer’s a lethal injection. Buser maintained he had not had to euthanize a dog in several years.
Lynda Plattner, who runs a 300 dog sledding outfit in Alaska, has started up a nonprofit called Alaska’s Iditarod Sled Dog Retirement Foundation whose goal is to provide a retirement program specifically for Iditarod dogs. Plattner told Denver’s ABC 7,
There is no other animal in the world like them, and based on that fact alone, they deserve to continue to receive the best care possible long after their competitive days are over.
In response to an inquiry from ABC 7, the American Humane Society confirmed MacEachen’s interpretation that euthanizing dogs with a gunshot to the head was legal in Colorado, but AHA head Marie Belew Wheatley added that, “It is inconceivable to me that a business enterprise that profits off the work and loyalty of these dogs would fail to seek another more compassionate end for these animals.”
Given the heat dog sledding already receives from animal rights activists, you’d think dog sled outfits like MacEachen’s would not want to hand them an issue on a silver platter like this.
Krabloonik defends culling of pack. Chad Abraham, The Aspen Times, April 5, 2005.
Controversy over treatment of sled dogs. Chad Abraham, Vail Daily, April 9, 2005.
Humane Association Criticizes Shooting Dogs In Head. ABC 7, The Denver Channel, April 5, 2005.