Ongoing probe into sled dog deaths to cost $225,000
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Monday, May 9, 2011 7:51AM EDT
The ongoing exhumation of the bodies of dozens of dogs and the investigation into how they were killed last year will cost upwards of $225,000.
A team with the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has dug up the remains of 52 of the 100 sled dogs that were slaughtered last year by an adventure company near Whistler, B.C.
The SPCA hopes to find enough evidence for the Crown to lay animal cruelty charges against the owners of the dogs.
The investigation is being jointly funded by the B.C. government, which is covering $100,000 of the costs, and SPCA donors which will cover the remaining $125,000, CTV B.C. reports.
"This is absolutely worth it to speak for animals in B.C. We're an enforcement agency, we don't get to pick and choose what case we do," said Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigation for the B.C. SPCA.
Moriarty said the exhumation of the mass grave where the dogs were buried should be complete by Tuesday. However, the necropsies that will be completed in the Lower Mainland will take several additional weeks.
The remains were X-rayed at the burial location before being sent off for further examination. Once the laboratory process is complete, they will receive a proper burial, she said.
Dr. Bill Hagland, a forensic anthropologist working on the investigation, said the first few days were spent simply clearing the area of doghouses, so the digging could begin.
"I'm here to help the dogs. They're dead but they're going to have a story to tell us," he told CTV B.C.
The SPCA launched its investigation after receiving allegations the sled dogs were slaughtered in April 2010.
The agency said in a statement one week ago that it assembled a team of forensic scientists, anthropologists and veterinarians to work on the case, some of whom had previously aided the investigation into serial killer Robert Pickton.
Moriarty said it is one of the largest and most complex investigations the agency had ever undertaken.
"Because of the length of time that has passed since the incident occurred, it is necessary to employ painstaking, state-of-the-art forensic techniques to gather the evidence needed to pursue animal cruelty charges in the case," she said in an earlier statement.
News of the purported cull surfaced in January after workers' compensation documents were leaked to the media.
The documents outlined a claim by a worker who said he was experiencing post-traumatic stress after killing the dogs. The worker alleged the dogs were shot or had their throats cut over the course of two days.
The animals were under the control of Howling Dog Tours. Another firm called Outdoor Adventures had a stake in the company when the cull took place, but insists it had no idea about the cull.
In the claim, the worker said he was ordered by his employer to kill the animals after business slowed in the wake of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Outdoor Adventures has denied that.
Investigators have so far revealed few details about what they've found, but one investigator told CTV B.C. off camera she would be haunted forever by the experience.
With a report from CTV B.C.'s Norma Reid