When we visited Greenland for the first time, in 2014, we were really impressed by the beauty and energy of the Greenlandic sledge dogs. With an average weight of 45kg the adults are quite impressive and the playfulness of the puppies makes every dog lover want to bring them home.
The dogs play an important role in the native Inuit culture, providing the only means of transportation and connection between the different secluded communities. However, with the introduction of snowmobiles the dogs have lost their place in the native society. Many mushers kept their dogs for hobbies such as sledge dog races, but, with the ongoing financial crisis, there is little room for such ‘hobbies’ and so the dogs are suffering.
Being ‘stalled’ far away from the village centres (because of government rules) the dogs are often left alone for days without water or food. Being on the chain leash for 24 hour a day, throughout the summer, with no shelter or water, the dogs are often exposed to the elements and end up dying due to dehydration.
It is difficult to find solutions because of the cultural, financial and political aspects of the problem. However, when visiting in 2014, we joined forces with Tierschutzverein Robin Hood, another organisation that was concerned about the sledge dogs well being and that has been comming to Greenland since 2005!
In August 2015 a small team, leaded by Robin Hood, will be joined by our vet Jochem Lastdrager. They will travel to Tassilaq in order to check the water supplies and talk to both government officials and local mushers about how to further improve the lives of these dogs. In addition our skilled vet will also be attempting to establish a national vaccination campaign. This audacious project is likely to start in 2016.
We will update you on both of these projects as soon as we have more information, so watch this space!