The SPCA is launching an investigation following a report that a dogsled tour company in Whistler, B.C., ordered the killing of 100 dogs when bookings slumped after the Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Vancouver radio station CKNW reported that documents it obtained from WorkSafeBC, the agency that monitors compliance with the occupational health and safety regulation in the province, show an employee of Outdoor Adventures Whistler was granted compensation after developing post-traumatic stress disorder for allegedly being forced to kill the dogs.
The radio station reports the dogs were either shot or had their throats slashed before being buried in a mass grave.
"It wasn't always a clean, one-shot kill," lawyer Cory Steinberg, who is representing the employee, told CKNW. "Inevitably, he ended up seeing and having to put the end to some horrific scenes."
Outdoor Adventures Whistler has not contested the WorkSafe injury claim, according to CKNW, which has not been able to elicit a comment on the case from the company.
The man who shot 100 sled dogs and filed a Workers Compensation claim stating he suffered post traumatic stress is not getting much sympathy from the head of the BC SPCA cruelty investigations division.
Marcie Moriarty said the man, who was the general manager at the time with Outdoor Adventures in Whistler, could have simply said no.
"I've no doubt he has suffered post traumatic stress but there's a thing called choice. I absolutely would not have done this and he could have said no. This is a criminal code offence and to have just stopped. I don't feel sorry for this guy for one minute."
But Moriarty said the man chose to shoot and kill the dogs over two days on April 21 and April 23 inhumanely.
"The way he describes multiple shots and faces blown off and coming back on a second day is gruesome. I've never read anything quite like it. The way this employee describes it - it's a massacre absolutely - a criminal code offence. These dogs were killed in front of the other dogs that were all tethered up on the compound (at Outdoor Adventures)."
Moriarty said the SPCA began investigating the culling of the sled dogs this weekend after CKNW provided her with a heavily censored report from the Workers Compensation Board.
WCB spokesperson Donna Freeman said she can not confirm a claim has been filed by any party because if there was a report filed it would be "considered private because they're medical files."
She said her understanding of the situation is CKNW got a report off a law firm's website and that report was made to the first level at WCB which is the review decision.
Lawyer Cory Steinberg is reportedly representing the man, who has not been named.
Moriarty said from what she's read so far in the report "many people will be shocked" not only about the culling but how sled dogs are treated in general.
"There is a problem with the sled dog industry in general. People see these 20 sled dogs, an idyllic setting with snow in the background and think how great. But what they don't see is the 200 dogs tethered and sleeping out back, chained to a barrel."
She said from reading the report it appears the request was made to kill the dogs because of a downturn in the business after the Olympics on the compound of Outdoor Adventures.
"What do they do when they don't have the money to feed them all? When the dogs aren't needed. The order to simply put them down is not acceptable."
Reading from the WCB report, Moriarty said there was a dog named Susie who had the left side of her cheek blown off and her eyeball hanging out of its socket when the man accidently dropped the leash and she was able to run off. He had to chase her down and shoot her using a scope on the firearm.
Quoting from the report Moriarty read "The first significant incident occurred when he noticed a female, Nora, who he had shot approximately 20 minutes before, was crawling around in the mass grave he had dug for the animals. He had to climb down into the grave amidst the 10 or so bodies already there and put her out of her misery....He also had to perform what he describes as execution style killings where he wrestled the dogs to the ground and stood on them with one foot to shoot them."
She said the last killings were "multiple shot killings as he was simply unable to get a clean shot" to the tethered dogs.
Again reading from the report, Moriarty said "He described a guttural sound he had never heard before from the dogs and fear in their eyes."
Moriarty said while RCMP have been contacted about the culling of the sled dogs the BC SPCA are the lead investigators and will be executing warrants to obtain further information.
She said they also plan to uncover the mass grave to examine the dogs' remains but can't do that immediately because the ground is frozen under several feet of snow.
And while this story is tragic, Moriarty added she is glad the public can finally learn more about the dog sledding industry.
"I'm glad a light is finally being shed on this industry. I just shudder whenever I see the ads for sled dog tours because I know how the majority of dogs are living. There are a few good operations but on a smaller scale," she said.
In a statement, Outdoor Adventures spokesman Graham Aldcroft said there are now no firearms on site and any time a sled dog will be euthanized in the future it will be done in a vet's office.
"While we were aware of the relocation and euthanization of dogs at "Howling Dog Tours" we were completely unaware of the details of the incident until reading the WCB document Sunday," he stated in the release.
Outdoor Adventures had a financial stake in 'Howling Dogs' with the operational control of the company in the hands of the worker referred to in the WCB ruling, according to CKNW.
Outdoor Adventures is owned by 29-year-old Joey Houssian, whom Pique Magazine identifies as the son of Intrawest scion Joe Houssian.
B.C. NDP leadership candidate Mike Farnworth said Monday that B.C. needs stronger protection for animals and tougher penalties against their abusers.
Commenting on the Whistler dog cull and the Dawson Creek case where a dog's body was frozen in a tub of water, he said, "As an animal lover, I along with the vast majority of British Columbians find these stories despicable. Clearly, we need to send a stronger message to those who think animal abuse is acceptable.
"We need to treat animal abuse as the horrific crime that it is. Anyone caught doing it should be significantly punished."
© Copyright (c) National Post
Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/sled+dogs+slaughtered+Whistler+when+tourism+slumped+Report/4196610/story.html#ixzz1CeTBipNk