Ontario’s animal welfare organization says it has ordered a dog-sledding operation north of Toronto to provide insulated shelter, clean water, appropriate food and veterinary care to more than 100 dogs on site to improve the animals’ well-being.
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals began an animal cruelty investigation into Windrift Kennel in Moonstone, Ont., after receiving a complaint from a couple who visited the business on Sunday.
BREAKING: @OntarioSPCA issues several orders against #Windrift owners after footage like this https://t.co/d4Sq4hrNlK sparks investigation. Orders incl.: provide adequate shelter, clean water, appropriate feed and vet assessments of dogs. @CityNews @680NEWS #sleddogs
— Cristina Howorun (@CityCristinaH) February 2, 2018
The OSPCA says the investigation is ongoing and that the owner must comply with the orders.
The organization says animals can be seized if the orders aren’t complied with.
Windrift Kennel could not immediately be reached for comment.
Natasha Guerriero and Dylan Blake, from Whitby, Ont., captured videos that show dozens of dogs chained up in the snow, with one dog limping with an apparent open wound on one of its front legs.
The OSPCA said in a statement that officers visited Windrift Kennel on Monday and said “several areas of concern were identified.”
“Our officers continue to oversee and monitor the conditions for the dogs to ensure the concerns are corrected and the dogs have the proper care and living conditions,” it said.
Dogs at the kennel are receiving veterinary assessments, the OSPCA said, noting that the outcome of those examinations could result in more orders being issued.
“As the investigation progresses, we will continue to provide updates regarding the welfare of these dogs,” the OSPCA said.
The owner of the dogs must comply with the orders or the animals can be seized, the OSPCA added.
Windrift Kennel did not respond to requests for comment.
The couple who made the complaint called the conditions of the dogs “sickening.”
“Dozens and dozens of dogs, if not all of them, are in trouble _ they were limping, scrawny and starving and the owner said they sleep in little huts outside year round,” Guerriero has said.
The disturbing video that went viral drew considerable concern. So much so, that Toronto Adventures, which worked with Windrift to offer the dog sledding experience, has severed their ties with the company.
CityNews attempted to see the grounds and conditions of the dogs earlier this week, but were not allowed on the sprawling grounds, which, according to the Town of Oro-Medonte, house 110 dogs.
But Arnie Zipusky, who produced a documentary on the sled dogs, was there with his cameras very recently and described what he saw.
“We filmed puppies being trained to pull a sled. So what they do is, from a very young age, from six months, they start pulling the dog and they put a chain around the dog’s neck so they can pull weight and they are really too young and physiologically they are really too young to pull a weight.”
The movie Sled Dogs, which airs on March 7 on the Documentary Channel, shows this heartbreaking scene.
According to several viewers who wrote to CityNews after attending Windrift for sled runs, and Zipursky and Levitt, the dogs at the kennel are kept tethered and chained unless they are pulling sleds, or learning to pull them.
Although the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has condemned the use of tethers as a primary form of confinement, there is no law prohibiting their use.