The next regular meeting of the Mat-Su Borough Assembly will be on Wednesday. One item on the agenda is an ordinance sponsored by Assembly Member Vern Halter, whose district includes the Upper Valley. The proposed ordinance deals with sled dog facilities, and comes in the wake of the Alaska Legislature declaring Alaska a “right to mush” state.
The proposed legislation would allow owners of sled dog kennels to apply for a special designation. To qualify, owners must have been registered as a kennel for at least three years, and must meet a list of care requirements that are more strict than regular kennel regulations. Vern Halter says that there is no requirement to register for the special license, but that it comes with benefits.
One potential benefit is the official recognition of tethering as the traditional method of restraint for sled dogs. The practice is opposed by some animal rights groups, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA. The ordinance also lays out that sled dog kennels are loud places at times, and that a certain level of noise is to be expected. Property licensed as a sled dog facility would thus be exempt from the borough’s animal annoyance code. Subdivision covenants and city ordinances would still apply.
In addition to the special licensing, the proposed ordinance would make it illegal to intentionally interfere with legal mushing activity, such as felling trees in trails or using firearms to scare mushers or dogs. The Borough Assembly will hear public comment on the ordinance and make its decision on Wednesday.