Sled Dog Standards of Care Workshop

Once upon a time, dog mushing was the only means of transportation and communication during the North's harsh winters; today Yukoners—and adventuresome visitors—keep the mushing tradition alive and well.

Recently, the government of British Columbia released their Sled Dog Standards of Care Regulations--a set of mandatory requirements that seeks to ensure that the mental and physical welfare of these animals is maintained and protected.

Considering that dog-sledding is such a vital part of our history and industry, WTAY wants to know what our members think about these regulations.  Do you agree with these standards?  Are they too relaxed?  Too harsh? Should the Yukon adopt similar regulations? If so, what changes will need to be made?  How will they be enforced?

This fall, WTAY invited all interested parties to a 'round-table' workshop about sled-dog standards of care.  Over 20 participants attended--including representatives from wilderness tourism businesses, the Yukon Quest, independent sled dog owners and kennel operators, and members of DPSAY--resulting in a though-provoking and valuable discussion.  In the end, the group agreed that our territory should create industry-specific standards of care for sled dog operators.

Due to the unanimous decision in favour of regulation development, the group discussed how they would like to proceed.  WTAY informed the group that, at the very least, the fact that every participant was in favour of regulations suggests that WTAY should add a section to their Code of Conduct regarding operators offering ‘Dog-Sledding’ as an activity.  Although this will not provide any weight for legal enforcement, it will be the first steps to change and progress in this area.

The group agreed that the best approach was to make it an open discussion and to encourage as much input from the industry as possible.  It was also agreed that the group would like something developed (i.e. a web page, forum, etc…) where the discussion can be done electronically (as it will encourage more involvement from operators in communities).

WTAY suggested that we circulate a ‘discussion form’ asking questions about regulations.  This form was sent out at the end of October (and can be accessed via a link below).  Once this data is collected, another meeting will be called.  Only when a list of agreed upon standards are created will we consider how to enforce these proposed regulations.

If you would like to get more actively involved in this project, please contact Justine Hobbs at 668-3369 or via email at

More Information About Sled Dog Regulations

Ministry of Agriculture - Protection for Sled Dogs in BC
Animal Protection Act - Yukon
Sled Dog Questionnaire


Update Jan 2014:

After spending many hours on this project, it reached a point where project funding would be required to research and draft a Best practices document. After careful consideration, the WTAY board felt it could not devote this much time and money to one specific sector of the Wilderness Tourism industry, but would be willing to support and participate in any working groups that developed if another proponent was willing to take the lead on the project. This decision was also precipitated by the need for WTAY to focus on revising it`s Code of Conduct for all members.

WTAY sees the value of this project and is eager to participate, once we receive word that someone has taken on the project lead.