Yukon News

Starving sled dogs rescued by humane society

Genesee Keevil Friday February 10, 2012

Ian Stewart/Yukon News


Hazel Phillips, a worker at the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter, checks in on Hillary and Coffee, two of 10 sled dogs rescued from a Haines Junction dog yard on the weekend. The shelter is overcapacity and is in desperate need of foster homes.

When Shelley Cuthbert pulled up to the dog yard in Haines Junction on Sunday, she knew the huskies were going to be in bad shape.

“But this was the worst I’ve seen, and I’ve lived in all three territories,” said Cuthbert, who is the president of Humane Society Yukon.

The 10 sled dogs were cowering in their own feces.

They were emaciated, some had open wounds and many had serious infections.

“It is so sad to see dogs in this condition,” said Cuthbert. “I wish we’d been called sooner.”

The humane society got a complaint about the mistreated dogs last week.

But rescuing dogs is not common practice for the Whitehorse shelter.

“In fact, this is the first time the shelter has done a rescue, to my knowledge,” said Cuthbert.

“The animals are usually brought to us.”

The humane society is not releasing the name of the dogs’ owner, but Cuthbert said that when they contacted him, he agreed to surrender the huskies.

But getting the dogs to Whitehorse wasn’t easy.

The society didn’t have enough large kennels for the dogs or a vehicle to transport them.

That’s when The Feed Store stepped in, donating 11 kennels. Ovation Construction donated a large passenger van to move the animals.

Ian Stewart/Yukon News


One of the rescued huskies in an outdoor pen at the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter.

On their own time, Cuthbert and humane society education director Marta Keller drove to Haines Junction to collect the dogs.

“It was stressful, and they barked all the way to Whitehorse,” said Keller.

“But I feel good about what we’ve done.”

Two of the dogs were taken straight to the vet and are now on antibiotics for serious infections.

Another has lost sight in one eye, also from infection.

On Thursday, the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter in Whitehorse was bursting at the seams.

It has so many dogs on the premises, some are being forced to sleep outside.

“We are desperately looking for people to foster dogs,” said Keller.

Washed and brushed, the fluffy sled dogs were settling into their new digs, munching on bones and getting used to three square meals a day.

But their healing wounds and protruding hip bones remain a visible reminder of what they’ve been through.

Now that the shelter has started rescuing dogs, Cuthbert expects more animal-cruelty complaints to start rolling in.

“We don’t want people to let their dogs get to this point,” she said. “Please surrender them before this. We understand. We’re not here to judge, we’re here to help.”

Still, the animal shelter can only do so much.

“There is a capacity to what we can do,” said Cuthbert. “It all depends on funding.”

This year, the humane society has applied for more territorial funding to expand its services.

“We want to get a bigger facility and start a livestock rescue,” said Cuthbert. “Now, we’re just waiting to see if we get the funding.”

In the interim, the shelter is urging Yukoners to come forward if they want to adopt or foster dogs.

“We are full, full, full. We can’t take any more animals right now,” she said.

To make matters worse, the shelter was broken into twice in the last month. Two cash registers were smashed, as well as several windows, which remain boarded up.

“To replace the tills and the windows will cost roughly $3,000,” said Cuthbert. “That’s $3,000 that could be going to the animals.”

The Mae Bachur Animal Shelter is open Tuesday through Friday from noon to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

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Linda Baker wrote:
5:15pm Saturday February 25, 2012

Great work to all of you.  It is everyones responsibility to report animal cruelty, Our voices are the only help they have.  This worlds a better place because of all the people that help & care.

Is the owner of these animals being charged for cruelty & neglect?  I hope so, it is NOT alright to abuse animals. If he wasn’t charged - WHY NOT?

Fines should be high to let these people know it is not okay, they should not be allowed to have any animals.  They don’t deserve them.

Take care, Godbless all of you and the 10 huskys. smile

Mike Grieco wrote:
10:22pm Friday February 24, 2012

Good on the Humane Society for rescuing these wonderful dogs. It’s not an easy job to accomodate & care for so many dogs (& cats), but the good folks at the shelter did it! Now, lets hope wonderful homes can be found for all of them; homes where they won’t be exploited as “sled dogs”.

**Lets see some photos of these poor dogs in their previous lives. Because if we are to address animal cruelty, we need to see the reality of [neglect & cruelty]....What has Yukon’s New & Improved ‘Animal Protection Act’ achieved for nonhumans? Or was it just that: An Act??

Bree wrote:
4:47am Sunday February 12, 2012

Those dogs are so gorgeous, i hope they find good homes and finally get a LIFE! The shelter is amazing and has done so much for the Yukon, i hope they get the funding and help they need.
I’ve always rescued/ adopted my dogs and always will. There are far to many dogs needing new homes already to breed/ buy more.

Thank you HSY for all your amazing work!!

Marije wrote:
5:20am Saturday February 11, 2012

I’m sure there are plenty of people in the Yukon who would love to foster one or more dogs. The problem, however, is that most landlords don’t allow pets in their rental units. I was lucky enough to find a landlord who did allow me to have pets and to even allow an extra large dog in their rental unit when I lived in Whitehorse. I wish there were more landlords like them.

M wrote:
4:59am Saturday February 11, 2012

why,why,why? It does not stop to amaze me in disgust how people treat these dogs. Society just does not want animals (try to rent a place with a dog) and in the mean time humans are the worst animals. I’d love to help and care for them but I cant.

I only wished that the HSY was a bit more humane for their people as well, I’ve seen too many good people leave due to management acting like a rabid dog.

Terry Cumming wrote:
11:20pm Friday February 10, 2012

Thank you to the HSY people who rescued these dogs and to those parties who provided assistance. Thank you Genesee for writing the story. Lots of great animals at Mae Bachur Shelter who are looking for their forever homes. Cannot imagine life without the Mae Bachur doggies who have been part of our family (Boomer, Abby and Otis).

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