The effects of the Corona crisis are also affecting Lapland’s sled dogs. Their owners are in despair because of the poor business situation and fear that they will have to go to extremes.
The Christmas business for dog sledding tours in Lapland is bad this year.
Many providers fear that they will no longer be able to raise the funds to care for the animals.
The situation is so grave that private individuals and companies joined forces to provide help.
The corona crisis is also causing winter tourism to break away in Lapland. According to the LMW tourist office, more than 60 percent of bookings were canceled at the beginning of November. This hits dog sledding providers twice as hard – with the business, their beloved huskies also perish.
“If my company does not survive and we can no longer afford to keep the dogs, we would have to dismiss them,” some have already announced, as reported by the Finnish public broadcaster YEL.
Between 5000 and 7000 huskies are in action in Lapland during the winter season. The maintenance of the animals is expensive, they have to be looked after, cared for and moved. “Sometimes the dogs are even put to sleep out of desperation and shot,” says a sled dog provider from Rovaniemi to RTL. “Many others are given to private individuals.”
While local toboggan providers have to adhere to strict requirements, the authorities have less control over foreign “pop-up” providers, which have been increasingly flooding the industry in Lapland and Scandinavia for several years. With the increasing demand, more and more dogs were flown in from abroad, which suffered from health problems and poor holding conditions, as CNN reported last year.
A veterinarian from Irani told YEL that she had no knowledge of the fact that there had been “mass killings” in Lapland, but she knew that the situation was serious for tour operators and their huskies.
The fate of the “unemployed sled dogs” moved Jean-Eric “Zaani” Chaumentin. “We are talking about helpless animals who cannot go out and find a job themselves,” he says Stand-up comedian and avowed husky fan from Oulu. When he heard that some dog sled providers were even threatening to kill their animals, he took action.
Campaign and delivery commitments
Together with a colleague, Chaumentin launched a rescue campaign across the Finnish border. He has set himself high goals and wants to raise donations between “a moderate eight and nine million euros”, as he told YEL. «It really needs that. We hope people realize how serious the situation is. ” In fact, animal feed producers became aware of the emergency and promised deliveries of dozens of tons of food for the dogs.
Aki Holck, an experienced “musher” (team driver), owns over 300 dogs. He advocates buying vouchers for dog sledding tours from local providers. This would be the best way to help them, the animals and their carers. «Dogs should do the work for which they are intended. These dogs have their own territory, they need their pack and carers they know. ” Holck, who has been in the business for over 30 years, anticipates a hard winter – and, like everyone else, hopes all the more for the next.