Animal lovers around the world are outraged to learn that a worker for a sled dog company in British Columbia slaughtered 100 dogs because of a drop in business after the 2010 Winter Games. The animals were shot and/or stabbed.
The deaths, which occurred in April of 2010, came to light recently by CKNW Radio in Vancouver after they uncovered a report by WorkSafeBC in which the worker filed for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) compensation. An unreported amount was granted in the case.
Details of the particularly gruesome deaths have prompted death threats to the company. As reported in the Calgary Sun, the employee,
carried out what he believed was an order to euthanize half of his beloved sled dog pack. Only a few of the “herd” died by the blade — the vast majority of the dozens of huskies chosen for the cull were killed by bullet, and some took more than one. “Some I missed, had to chase around with blood everywhere, some I had to slit their throats because it was the only way to keep them calm in my arms,” stated Fawcett. “I had one still alive in a pit I dug for a mass burial. I carried them all one by one so as to at least give them some kind of respect.
In harrowing detail, the report states that he "allegedly shot and knifed the animals before dumping them into a mass grave, including at least one dog that was later found alive." The cull lasted for two days. The report also states that one dog ran amok with her "cheek blown off and her eye hanging out" before she was put out of her misery by another shot with a rifle. Another dog was killed by this second bullet and hung on for 15 minutes before it died. Unfortunately, this dog was actually not one of the pack to be eliminated. Another dog, shot and dumped in the mass grave, miraculously emerged after 20 minutes, but was shot to death. The panicked animals began to attack the employee, which prompted him to wrap his arms in foam padding for protection. He also slit the throat of one dog who leapt on top of him.
The slaughtered dogs were owned by Whistler Dogsledding, which is controlled by Outdoor Adventures. Whistler's/OA's dog tours have been suspended. There is no information on when they will be reinstated. CKNW reports today that a December veterinarian report states "substantive improvements" have been made at Whistler, there are "no concerns" about the quality of life for the 156 remaining dogs, and almost all are in excellent physical health. The report also stated that a veterinarian declined to kill the dogs last Spring and no homes could be found for them. Sled dogs are generally difficult to adopt because of the way they are raised - in packs, and outdoors.
It is legal to kill dogs in Canada, as long as it is done humanely. No charges have been filed, but the investigation is still open. It is possible that the mass grave may be dug up in the Spring once the ground thaws.
Statement from Howling Dog Tours of Canmore, Alberta:
Please note, we are not the Whistler sled dog company currently being reported in the media for the alleged inhumane slaughtering of 100 sled dogs. We deplore those actions and were totally unaware of the incident until the media story broke on Monday.
The Whistler company was operating under a similar name to our company and hence the confusion. The Whistler companies name is "Howling Dog Tours Whistler Inc.". We operate as "Howling Dog Tours Ltd." and are located in Canmore, Alberta - 800km (500 mile) from the reported incident in Whistler.
We genuinely have no association with the Whistler based company. Our last association with that company was 2004 and we have not spoken with the owners since that time.
Statement from the Barrett Fisher, President and CEO of Tourism Whistler:
Tourism Whistler learned Monday morning of the allegations against Outdoor Adventures Whistler in regard to the treatment of dogs used in their dog sled program.
Like so many people who have expressed their concern and outrage, Tourism Whistler and its members are shocked and saddened by the details portrayed in the reported claims.
Whistler is a caring community profoundly affected by the current situation. Many businesses, including Tourism Whistler actively support and promote dog-friendly programs. The entire community is shaken, and we are intent on receiving verification of the facts so that if there is validity to these claims, those responsible will be held accountable.
The allegations made in a Workers’ Compensation Board Claim are extremely serious and official investigations are currently underway by both the RCMP and SPCA. While these allegations have been reported by the media as fact, the investigation has yet to conclude the same.
As a result, it is important that we do not assume anything prematurely as the authorities must be allowed to complete their investigations into these extremely disturbing accusations.
While Tourism Whistler cannot comment on any details of the allegations, we can however speak to what we are doing to assist our visitors and provide information that will help them make informed decisions.
As of Monday, Tourism Whistler suspended the sale of Outdoor Adventures at Whistler's dogsledding activities via whistler.com and the Visitor Centre.
After further review with representatives from Outdoor Adventures, Tourism Whistler has decided to extend that suspension to all products offered by Outdoor Adventures Whistler. Full refunds for dogsled tours booked with this operator will be provided upon request.
Tourism Whistler thanks everyone who has emailed or telephoned to express your concern and we thank you for your patience as we work through this very difficult time.
SkiTown.com is a website that lists all ski resorts in the U.S. and Canada, along with snow reports. Whistler is open for skiing and other activities. Skiers can book air fare from Whistler's website. Fares from the Long Island/New York area to Vancouver are listed at $209 each way from Newark Airport. Flights to Vancouver also leave from JFK and LaGuardia Airports. Check kayak for fares and schedules.
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