A bad end for huskies in Finland

Dogs are required to have an intensive service due to mass tourism that is not “balanced”

Given the particular primitive origin of the animal, there are some beliefs that do not reflect its real nature

From the mid-1980s until 2016, the Finnish Lapland queen was the snowmobile. Now, instead, it is replaced by the husky one. The problem is that dogs are asked for an intensive service due to a little ‘balanced’ tourism.

Over 4 thousand are the specimens engaged in tours that today take tourists to explore the icy North, in an experience of snow and white landscapes. And yet, the fate of our faithful friends is not so rosy: once they reach retirement age, in fact, they are slaughtered. A bit like what happens to greyhounds in Great Britain or crippled racing horses, in Italy. When they become “economically useless”, or a moment of financial crisis comes, they are made to disappear.

The case of the 100 huskies

Just think of the case of 2010, when over 100 Siberian huskies were slaughtered by a sled company in Whistler, Canada, following a collapse of the tour bookings in the ice. This happened, not surprisingly, shortly after the end of the Winter Olympic Games. But huskies also face another problem. Due to climate change the cold season, that is the economically most profitable one, continues to shorten. And this for dogs means being unemployed for nine months a year.

Moreover, not all the companies that take care of them, pay due attention to these animals. “The conditions of these specimens tend to be good here,” stressed CNN’s García-Rosell, senior professor of responsible tourism business at the University of Lapland, and project leader at Animal Tourism Finland. “However – the scholar confessed – they could certainly be better”.
“All tourists who have Lapland as their destination with the Finnish tour operator Skafur-Tour want to experience a journey on the ‘sled-husky'”, underlined Riitta Kiukas, founder of the company. “We are talking about animals born to always run, and used to arctic conditions. Huskies are not pets “. Extending the tourist season could be a solution that benefits both the four-man press and the local economy. “In this way the service required of animals would also be more sustainable and healthy,” continued Kiukas.

The Siberian Husky was bred for centuries by the people of the Chukchi for towing sledges.

Victims of overtourism

Yet, still today the number of tourists in Lapland is concentrated in a few months: usually from December to February. In this way local companies cannot keep up. “The tourist demand was not diluted”, Kiukas confessed. And so the huskies become victims of overtourism. Super productive for three months, stopped for the other nine.

Longer seasons, on the other hand, would keep the dogs busy all year. And in a healthier way. “Tourists come for a very short period of time, around Christmas and New Year, and until February,” Kiukas said. “But dogs live twelve months a year.” “It is essential that visitors arrive at slightly different times. They would have a better safari because they would be divided into smaller groups. And dogs could work better,” Kiukas concluded.

The solution in the autumn safari

Autumn safaris, for example, would allow dogs to remain active, pulling sledges through the northern countryside. “The landscape at that time is very beautiful. Thus, moreover, there would be a collective commitment to making the sector sustainable, “said Anna McCormack, manager of Hetta Huskies, a company that organizes sled tours. “Moreover – underlined Krissy Roe, responsible for Responsible Travel – happy and more active huskies are able to guarantee a more pleasant journey. For everyone”.

Info and history of the sled dog

  • Group: 5 Spitz-type dogs and primitive type
  • Section: 1 Nordic sled dogs
  • Standar n.: 270 of 02/02/1995
  • Original name: Siberian Husky
  • Type: Sled dog
  • Origin: Russian
  • Height at the withers: Male 53.5-60cm / Female 50.5-56 cm
  • Ideal weight: Male 20.5-28 kɡ / Female 15.5-23 kg

The Siberian Husky is a medium-sized dog of distant Siberian origin. It is a working breed, even if it has become one of the most appreciated companion dogs.

An episode that contributed to the definitive consecration of this breed dates back to January 1925, when a diphtheria epidemic broke out in Nome, Alaska: due to bad weather conditions it was impossible to reach the city. A sledge relay was then organized, driven by many Siberian Huskies, who succeeded in getting the anti-diphtheria serum on time.

This relay, in which Leonhard Seppala and two leaders became legendary, Balto and Togo, took the name of racing serum. The company is recalled with the Iditarod that retraces the same stages of the time. In 1930 the Siberian Husky was recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club. In April 1932 the first standard of the Siberian Husky breed was published in the American Kennel Gazette.