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December 22, 2009

The HSUS Urges Stronger Enforcement of Colorado Sled Dog Regulations

The Humane Society of the United States commends the Park County Sheriff's Office for seizing nearly 100 sled dogs from a state-licensed dog-sledding facility due to the animals' alleged neglect. After receiving a tip that dogs there were living in deplorable conditions, The HSUS called the sheriff's department, which quickly took action to help the animals.

The case is the most recent action law enforcement in Colorado has taken in response to a sled-dog facility accused of inadequate care. It came only weeks after Snowmass Village police confirmed that they are investigating allegations of animal cruelty at Krabloonik, a state-licensed dog-sledding operation, whose owner has been arrested on animal cruelty charges in the past.

These cases are only two examples of a larger regulatory problem in Colorado, and The Humane Society of the United States calls on the Colorado Department of Agriculture to strengthen oversight and enforcement of these operations. Sled-dog operations are covered under the Pet Animal Care Facilities Act and are regulated by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Both facilities, in Park County and Snowmass Village, are PACFA licensed.

"Park County police took immediate action to relieve the suffering of these dogs. We applaud their commitment to protecting animals and hope the state will follow suit," said Holly Tarry, The HSUS' Colorado state director. "We ask the Colorado Department of Agriculture to step up its regulatory enforcement so punitive action can be taken against those who fail to meet standards. Consistent and timely enforcement of these regulations can prevent the suffering these dogs had to endure."

The Colorado Department of Agriculture facility files reveal that many sled-dog facilities (including the one in Park County) do not meet the minimum standards required by law, yet the facilities are able to continue in sub-par condition with no corrective action. The owner of the Park County dogs, whom police are investigating, was convicted of cruelty to animals in 2003 after one of his dogs was found with a collar embedded in his neck. After the conviction, the Department of Agriculture, which has the authority to revoke licenses, sent the owner a letter stating that they would not revoke his license.

Both the sled-dog facility owner in Park County and the owner of Krabloonik were previously convicted of animal cruelty, and both have maintained their PACFA license. And, most importantly, both have come to police attention again for allegedly allowing animals to suffer at their facilities. This pattern is unacceptable and presents a clear need for stricter regulatory enforcement of the laws, which are designed to prevent the sort of needless suffering recently exposed in Park County.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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