OSPCA investigating dog sledding company over animal cruelty allegations
Published Monday, January 29, 2018 7:06PM EST
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is investigating allegations of animal cruelty against a company that offers dog sledding tours, after videos surfaced online showed dozens of dogs chained to posts and at least one with an apparent injury.
The OSPCA confirmed in a statement to CTVNews.ca that it was conducting an investigation related to concerns raised about a “dog sled operation in central Ontario,” but refused to provide further details.
On Sunday, a couple from Whitby, Ont. posted videos of dogs they saw chained up outside at a kennel called Windrift Kennels in Moonstone, Ont., located about 41 kilometres north of Barrie.
Natasha Guerriero and Dylan Blake said they booked a dog sledding tour through the company Toronto Adventures, which subcontracts Windrift Kennels. In separate Facebook posts published on Sunday, the couple described what they Say they witnessed at Windrift Kennels.
“Upon walking into the orientation area for the dog sledding it is apparent that in the forest there are hundreds of dogs that are chained up to a post to live in the same spot they use the washroom and sleep,” Blake wrote. “I proceeded to ask if the dogs were ever let off the chains to go in a shelter or somewhere warm during the night, and the worker told me that this is where they stay all day and all night.”
Blake described the environment as “cruel and sickening,” and said the dogs appeared to be “extremely scared” when he approached them.
“Some of them were sick, starving, and injured. It was shocking,” he wrote. “When petting the dogs they were so not used to affection and they would not want me or my girlfriend to leave them because of the lack of attention they get.”
Guerriero said the dogs were kept outside all day and night with nothing to keep them warm but “broken wooden houses and straw.” She also claims one of the workers at the kennel told her to avoid touching the animals because they aren’t washed very often. Guerriero said she could tell the dogs were “full of dirt” on their coats and paws just by petting one of them.
In one video uploaded on Blake’s page, a white dog can be seen limping towards him with a visible red mark on its leg. Later in the video, another dog is shown with a red mark on its back.
The couple wrote that they reported what they witnessed to the OSPCA and to Toronto Adventures, the company they booked the tour from.
CTV Barrie showed the online videos to local veterinarian Karren Prost. She said that judging by what she could see, none of the dogs seemed to be in medical distress.
“They look like they are active, they’re and moving around, their tails are wagging, they’re interacting with people. So I wouldn't necessarily say they're in any sort of medical distress from what I'm used to seeing,” she said.
On the homepage for the Toronto Adventures’ website, a statement addresses concerns about the treatment of dogs at Windrift Kennels.
“We’ve been made aware that one of the dogs had a sore on his/her leg via a concerned participant in one of our events, we’ve contacted Windrift Kennels to make sure the dog is being appropriately taken care of,” the statement read. “We will be requesting an additional inspection of the Windrift Kennels to assure that their dogs are healthy and being treated appropriately.”
The company said they ensure any dog sledding companies they hire for their tours are certified and regularly inspected by the appropriate Ontario government by-law enforcement offices.
“It saddens us greatly as dog lovers to think of any animal suffering. We will be severing our relationship with Windrift Kennels if any dogs are found treated poorly,” the statement said.
On Monday, OSPCA officers were seen entering the premises of Windrift Kennels. A woman who identified herself as the owner of the company opened the gate to allow the OSPCA officers in. She refused to comment on the investigation when asked by CTV Barrie.
The OSPCA said in their statement that it’s conducting an “open investigation” and encouraged anyone with any more information to report it to their animal cruelty hotline at 310-SPCA (7722).
“The Society takes all reported concerns of animal cruelty seriously,” the statement said. “We want to reassure the public that the dogs are our top priority.”
None of the allegations have been tested in court.
With files from CTV Barrie