Loose Sled Dogs Raise Safety Concerns in Iqualuit

Matty McNair owns 11 dogs as part of her polar outfitting business. Her dogs have been let loose four times. Image: CBC VideoSomeone in Iqaluit has been letting other people’s sled dogs off their chains, creating a potentially dangerous situation for residents, some say.

The rash of loose dogs in the Nunavut capital in the past month has become a concern for city officials and local sled-dog owners, who fear a roaming pack of aggressive canines could attack somebody.

“When dogs run in packs, [it’s] just like when people run in packs — riots happen and people do things they normally wouldn’t do. The same thing is true with dogs,” Matty McNair, who owns 11 dogs as part of her polar outfitting business, told CBC News on Monday.

McNair said she and other owners, who normally keep their sled dogs chained outdoors, have seen their dogs running around after being mysteriously freed.

“Five times, different [dog] teams have been let loose, and one time at least six teams and over 65 dogs were let loose,” she said.

‘They’re just going crazy’

Another Iqaluit sled-dog owner, Steve Mongeau, said his five dogs have been let loose in recent weeks.

“It was crazy because they’re all running around and they’re just going crazy,” Mongeau said. “In fact, one of our dogs was actually attacked and killed by, you know, two other dogs.”

No dog attacks have been reported to date, but McNair said loose sled dogs pose a danger to people — especially children — and pets.

Last year, a four-year-old boy in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, was mauled to death by three sled dogs that had somehow broken free of their chains. No criminal charges were laid in that incident.

Iqaluit bylaw officers say they are working with the local RCMP to round up loose sled dogs. They are also trying to find out who is setting the dogs free.

Random occurrences

“We’re just ending up responding to these dogs that are being let loose,” said Kevin Sloboda, the city’s chief municipal enforcement officer.

“We’re not sure as to who’s doing it or when … it’s random.”

Sloboda said the city hopes to meet with the city’s sled-dog owners to discuss potential solutions if the culprit is not caught soon.

In the meantime, McNair and other sled-dog owners say they just want their dogs to be left alone.

“I don’t know what their message is, but it’s really dangerous to people and to the lives of the dogs, and it’s people’s livelihood. So it’s really upsetting,” she said.

Watch the video report at CBC

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