100 healthy sled dogs slaughtered in Whistler, B.C.
Published Monday, January 31, 2011 9:32PM EST
Warning: This story contains details that may be disturbing to some readers
The SPCA in British Columbia along with the RCMP are investigating a report that a Whistler tour company slaughtered 100 healthy sled dogs last year after business slowed and new homes could not be found for the animals.
Staff. Sgt. Steve LeClair, of Whistler RCMP, confirmed his detachment has opened a file, but said the primary investigator on the case will be the SPCA.
Marcie Moriarty, general manager for cruelty investigations with the BC SPCA, tells ctvbc.ca that the investigation was launched after a worker at Outdoor Adventures Whistler filed a claim with the Worker's Compensation Board of B.C. (WorkSafeBC) for post-traumatic stress, after being ordered to kill dozens of dogs.
Moriarty said the report suggests the slaughter was conducted over three days last April. The worker said he was ordered to carry out the cull after business slowed following the 2010 Olympic Games.
In the documents, the worker describes a dog that survived a shot to the face: "Its eye was hanging off, and it was still running around," Moriarty told ctvbc.ca. Another apparently dead dog was dumped into the mass grave, but the worker later noticed the animal trying to pull itself out.
The documents also said the man ran out of ammunition at one point and had to use a knife to kill an aggressive dog.
"By that point he wanted nothing more than to stop the ‘nightmare' but he continued because he had been given a job to finish," the documents said.
"He stated that he felt ‘numb.'"
The worker's name has not been released but the man's lawyer said it was "the worst experience (the man) could ever have imagined."
"He was essentially told to figure out a way to make (the business) more cost effective. They just had to have less dogs. So he did everything he could finding homes for them, having them adopted, every which way that he could," lawyer Cory Steinberg told CKNW.
The worker was successful in his claim for compensation and is still in therapy.
Moriarty said it's technically legal to shoot an animal, as long as it dies instantly. "That most certainly did not happen in this instance," she said.
She added that lethal injections supervised by a veterinarian would have been the more humane way to cull the dogs.
She said the SPCA will now have to dig up the mass grave to complete its investigation.
Outdoor Adventures Whistler did not contest the report detailed in the WorkSafeBC documents, except to note that 100 were actually destroyed rather than the 70 dogs that the worker claimed in his report.
Graham Aldcroft, a spokesman for Outdoor Adventures Whistler says the sled dog cull was "tragic and regrettable."
But he noted that Outdoor Adventures Whistler had only a financial stake in the company that actually conducted the sled dog tours, called Howling Dog Tours. He says the worker who made the WorkSafe BC claim had full operational control of Howling Dog.
"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... document Sunday," Aldcroft said in a statement.
He noted that Outdoor Adventures Whistler took over control of Howling Dogs in May, after the reported dog cull, and said it is now company policy that animals needing to be euthanized are treated at a vet's office.
The Vancouver Humane Society is calling for a ban on sled dog tours following reports of the mass killing.
VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker said his human society has seen the WorkSafeBC documents.
"The details of how these dogs were killed are absolutely shocking," said VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker.
"This is what happens when animals are exploited for profit and become surplus to requirements when business is bad."
Many other dog-sled tour operators issued statements Monday to distance themselves from what happen in Whistler.