Buechel: Community supports sled dog race at Rolling Meadows

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Fond du Lac County Executive Allen Buechel said he has been hearing from a number of area residents who have expressed support for a sled dog race scheduled for Dec. 3 at Rolling Meadows Golf Course.

Buechel said that he has yet to hear anyone who lives in Fond du Lac County object to the race.

Buechel said he started to receive e-mails and faxes from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) last week urging him to cancel the sled dog race.

However, Buechel said that this week, he is receiving e-mails and faxes and is even being stopped on the street by people who want to tell him how they feel about the event.

Most of the recent contacts, he said, haven’t been from members of PETA. They have been dog owners from the area who want to see the Can’t Depend On Snow Sled Dog Race take place at the county-owned Rolling Meadows course.

“There’s a lot of support within the community,” Buechel said.

However, PETA Animals in Entertainment Specialist Jennifer O’ Connor said she received three e-mails and one phone call from residents near the Fond du Lac area who expressed concern about the race.

O’Connor said she is surprised Buechel hasn’t heard complaints from local residents.

“I encourage them (those opposed to the event) to call and very politely say, ‘I’m opposed to it,’” O’ Connor said.

The state of Wisconsin has 4,609 PETA members, and Fond du Lac is home to 30 members, according to statistics provided by O’Connor.

Weight pull

PETA’s concern is over a scheduled weight pull. Dogs are harnessed to a sled that has wheels and pull weight. The weight starts off small but could reach 3,000 pounds.

Buechel said that the dogs in the event enjoy the competition.

“Dogs prefer this as opposed to being in kennels,” he said.

O’Connor said that dogs are like people, and some may enjoy it while others are “couch potatoes.”

“The dogs have to participate whether they want to or not,” she said.

O’Connor said she encourages alternatives to the weight pull. She suggested a tug of war between city and county employees.

“Have people do the pulling contest,” she said.

O’Connor said that in about a month, she plans on contacting Buechel to reconsider the race.

“It’s not about PETA. It’s about the dogs,” she said.

No plans to cancel race

Buechel said he feels confident about his decision to let the race take place and doesn’t plan on canceling the event. He said he anticipates that there will be an “orderly protest” at the event.

O’Connor said that the event seems “too far away to be real,” and when the event is closer to happening, there may be plans for a “peaceful protest or demonstration.”

PETA’s protest of the event first became public in The Reporter on Thursday, Aug. 25. Since then, more than 50 comments have been made on The Reporter’s Web site in regard to the story. Not one online comment received by The Reporter has supported PETA’s attempt to cancel the race.

“I have participated in many weight pulls and sledding events. Not one dog has been injured. These are athletes, this is what they enjoy doing. This is the dogs’ fun time,” wrote Denise Cwiok of Fond du Lac.

Marlene Daniels, of Belgrade, Mont., wrote to The Reporter, “Thank you for having the courage to stand up to these unreasonable, ill-informed bullies. I think they throw darts at a dart board to decide who they’ll harass next — fishermen, sled dog owners, turkey growers. You name it — they’ve attacked it. They are so out of touch with the world that they are pathetic. I’ve raised St. Bernards. I know what they are capable of.”

Source:Fond du Lac Reporter

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