A video posted online this past Saturday showing a polar bear “petting” went viral with dozens of media outlets stating it was the cutest thing they ever saw. The Telegraph wrote “Polar bear strokes ‘best friend’ dog during amazing encounter,” Huffington Post proclaimed “This Polar Bear Petting A Dog Is Cute Enough To Melt Any Icy Heart and ABC stated Heartwarming Video Shows Polar Bear Petting Eskimo Dog in Canada.
But what at first appears to be cute is anything but. If you take a closer look at the video (which has been viewed close to 1 million times), the dog is chained up, not having anywhere to run. Realizing he can’t defend himself, he allows the bear to do what he pleases.
The chained dog is one of several sled dogs belonging to Canadian Brian Ladoon, who runs Mile 5 Dog Sanctuary in Churchill. Ladoon feeds the endangered bears – meaning they have come to depend on him for food and make frequent visits to his property.
Last week, Ladoon told Canada’s CBC there were nine bears on his property and one ended up eating a chained-up dog.
“That was the only day we didn’t feed the f–king bears, the only night we didn’t put anything out,” he told the outlet.
This bear had to be immobilized and removed from the area. A separate incident, involving a mother and cub, also resulted in the pair needing to be removed by conservation officers.
Ladoon not only feeds the bears but charges tourists a fee to take them to his property to watch the interaction between the endangered species and his dogs.
Not only does this obviously put the dogs in danger but the polar bears, too. The huge animals may now associate all humans with food, meaning they may try to approach others when hungry. Locals could become fearful of this encounter and kill them over safety concerns.
If someone is caught feeding and endangered species like polar bears, “failure to cease the action of feeding/baiting polar bears will result in further enforcement action,” the Manitoba Sustainable Development spokesperson said in a statement.