The Dogfather is living up to his name.
On an examination table at the Squamish Veterinary Hospital, Christian Hatt spreads out a slew of photos of retiring sled dogs. There are brown ones, white ones and a multitude of huskies, all needing homes.
“The hardest thing for them will be leaving these places,” the Squamish dog whisperer says, adding that the dogs are used to a lot of exercise and the companionship of their four-legged co-workers.
Hatt has set out to create an organization that will match potential pet owners with former sled dogs — similar to greyhound race dog retirement programs. It's an idea sparked by the slaughter of 56 sled dogs near Whistler in 2010, he says. The news story that went around the world opened up a conversation regarding what the industry should do with its hundreds of dogs too old to work.
“I want to create a website for all sled dogs in the province,” Hatt says.
With sled dog companies throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor and an active community, he says, it's a recipe for some great partnerships. Hatt is already in contact with a few sledding companies and is taking on a list of veterinarians who would be willing to discount medical visits for the adopted dogs.
“The idea is the new dog owner won't be doing this on their own,” he says.
Preparing a former sled dog into household life takes some work, Hatt notes. But they're the perfect dog for runners and mountain bikers, he adds.
Currently, Hatt is looking for homes for more than 20 dogs. Once the organization gets going, he anticipates the annual number of sled dogs retiring in the Sea to Sky Corridor will be between 15 and 20.
“They are very friendly and socialized,” Hatt says.
If you are interested in adopting a dog or want to learn more about the creation of a sled dog adoption program call (604) 966-6237. A similar program has been launched at Whistler Animals Galore, the Whistler animal shelter. For information about that program visit www.whistlerwag.com