Advocate seeks to break the chains on sled dogs

Posted: 2018-08-31 10:23:52 By: mattdriscoll

Advocate seeks to break the chains on sled dogs


A local animal advocate is gaining traction when it comes to the rights of sled dogs.

From the past several months Sandra Garofolo has made it her mission to change the rules surrounding dog chaining and tethering. Now she’s starting to get the attention of those in power.

Garfolo moved to the Huntsville area from Sudbury two years ago and found herself living on the same street as a dog sledding operation.  

“I didn’t know it existed until I drove up there one day with my (dog). I was shocked to see these 75 or so dogs attached with four foot chains to their wooden dog houses,” says Garofolo. “They were barking and running around in circles. I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

Garofolo said she had no previous experience with the dog sledding industry and the site was an “eye opener”.

When her own dog, Gracie Doodle, died in January, Garofolo decided to to do everything she could to change the rules regarding dog chaining in her memory.

“I began searching the internet, doing my research, hooking up with various dog advocacy groups,” says Garofolo.

Her search led her to groups like K-9 Unchained, Animal Justice and documentary filmmaker Fern Levitt. After getting in touch with the OSPCA, Garofolo said she was surprised to discover there were few rules regarding the length of time a dog can be chained up.

“I was blown away. This issue is bigger than most people know,” she said. “There is a lot more to it than meets the eye, including how sled dog operations keep their dogs and how they make their own rules.”

Garofolo says her primary focus right now is education.

“People have to learn what the laws on animal welfare are,” she says.  “If people don’t know, then they can’t act.”

To that end, Garofolo started circulating a petition in Muskoka, Sudbury and the Manitoulin Island area. She’s also seeking a meeting with Muskoka-Parry Sound MPP Norm Miller to discuss the issue.

Earlier this week, Miller said he’s seen the petition and he’s familiar with the regulations Garofolo is seeking to change.  

“I have heard from a few different sources this summer that the standards of care that are outlined by the OSPCA Act leave something to be desired and warrant review,” said Miller. “I look forward to meeting with these constituents this fall to hear their suggestions in hopes of formulating a plan to move forward.”

Garofolo says she’s determined and she won’t rest until she sees real change n the regulations.

“When something affects me I become passionate and won’t stop until the deed is done,” she says. “I realize this will be a long haul but I’m committed. No animal should be chained up their entire lives, its inhumane and it's cruel.”