KANANASKIS – Activists holding signs and wearing dog chains around their necks protested outside a local dog sled tour company on Saturday (Nov. 16), resulting in the arrest of 15 people after they allegedly broke into its kennel.
According to RCMP, Canmore members were called to Mad Dogs & Englishmen east of Canmore at around 8:20 a.m. after approximately 30 protestors “broke into the kennels” to "protest the treatment of the dogs."
At the protest called “Liberation Lockdown” about 50 activists from the Direct Action Everywhere (DXE) Alberta chapter protested the “exploitation” and “living conditions” of the sled dog industry at the Kananaskis Country kennel.
Max Mah, DXE Edmonton organizer, said the “non-violent activist” group wants its protests to “pressure the government to pass laws to protect animals."
“So [Liberation Lockdown] was an occupation to gain attention to the plight of sled dogs and the industry and show how they actually live, tethered to these chains for the vast majority of their lives when they’re not pulling sleds and to show the conditions by social media and call into question our government officials and the mainstream media as well and negotiate possibly rescuing some of these dogs in distress,” Mah said.
At Liberation Lockdown, protestors “went into the compound where the dogs are being held to lock themselves down with the dogs,” said DXE member Ryan Park.
“We want to raise awareness and wake people up who pay for these things … they see the happy dog and they see them running around, but they don’t see where they spend the majority of their life,” Park said.
Dozens of the protestors stood outside the Canmore RCMP station on Saturday following the protest, giving spirited cheers when an arrested protestor was released.
“Compassion is not a crime,” one activist shouted outside the RCMP station.
An RCMP press release issued before 2 p.m. said all members had been released, although, DXE said they were waiting for 10 members to be let out at 4:30 p.m.
Of the 15 arrested in Saturday’s protest, 14 are adults and one is a youth.
“At this time, the accused are facing criminal charges of Break and Enter to commit Mischief,” wrote Cpl. Leigh Drinkwater, an RCMP spokesperson.
All of the accused are scheduled to appear in Canmore Provincial Court on Jan. 15 for first appearance. The names of the charged adults are not being released at this time. The charged youth cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The Outlook has attempted to contact Mad Dogs & Englishmen for comment and will update this story when the company has been reached.
On the company’s website, which it calls the sled dogs apart of the family, it said:
“We believe that good dog care must be proactive not just reactive. This means that setting up a system that requires regular and thorough checking and care of each dog is important. We work closely with our vet to ensure the health and safety of each and every dog in our kennel and when out on the trail. This takes [a lot] of love, time, money and dedication but we wouldn't have it any other way.”