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Whistler Sled Dog Co. folds

Homes needed for up to 86 sled dogs, although companies may take on some of the kennel

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Broderick said she is working in conjunction with the B.C. SPCA to find homes for the dogs. She said that in a typical year WAG finds homes for about 80 dogs, so she enlisted the help of the provincial organization in the hope that there will be a province-wide response to the effort to find homes for the dogs. Broderick said she expects most of the dogs will be adopted directly out of the kennel but a few may need to spend some time in the WAG shelter before they find new homes.

"I think the company has done a great job this last year of socializing the dogs," said Broderick.

The biggest challenge with the sled dogs is the fact that they don't have any house skills.

"Teaching them to walk on a leash and maybe even in some cases housebreaking and chewing on appropriate chew toys, those are going to be our challenges," Broderick noted.

She estimated that 10 to 20 per cent of the dogs in the kennel are extremely shy.

"We need to get them socialized with people," she said.

Anyone who wants to adopt one of the dogs is asked to send an email message to retiredsleddoginfo@whistlerwag.com indicating an interest in adopting a sled dog.

Eckersley said discussions were held with Blackcomb Snowmobile to explore the possibility of the WSDC providing tour services to that company but she said an agreement wasn't reached. According to Eckersley, there is now just one operational dog sled kennel in the Whistler area, down from three at the end of the winter season. As WSDC seeks out new homes for its dogs, Eckersley said she feels there is room for two small kennels in Whistler and there is enough demand to support two with the greatest amount of business taking place over a four-week period around the Christmas holidays.

Three WSDC employees were let go, said Eckersley. Two full-time employees were impacted along with one part-time worker. She noted that during peak operations the company employed 18 people with most of them laid off at the end of the sledding season.

The WSDC was created when Outdoor Adventures Whistler (OAW) got out of the sled dog business. WSDC took over the dogs after it was learned the previous manager of the kennel reduced the size of the kennel by at least 50 dogs when business slowed following the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

The former manager of the kennel pleaded guilty to a charge of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal. Last November he was fined $1,500, ordered to do 200 hours of community service and placed on probation for three years.