News » Whistler

Joey Houssian 'horrified' by post-Olympic dog cull

RCMP and BC SPCA continue to investigate killing of 100 sled dogs



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OAW owns Howling Dog Tours, but, said Houssian, operational control was left with the general manager. In April 2010, the month in which the killings occurred, Howling Dog Tours had over 200 dogs.

The Vancouver Sun has reported that the general manger contacted the SPCA twice asking for help and reporting poor conditions for the dogs following the cull. A scheduled SPCA inspection in the fall never took place. The Sun also reported that the SPCA concluded that many of the remaining dogs would not be suitable for adoption as pets.

The BC SPCA is leading the investigation of the dog culling. Representatives from that organization visited OAW's dog compound alongside the RCMP this week and were satisfied that the remaining 125 dogs are in good condition.

"The dogs appeared to be in good condition," said RCMP Staff Sergeant Steve LeClair.

"I'm not a dog expert, but they looked in good condition, they were not emaciated... they looked like healthy, athletic dogs."

The RCMP and the BC SPCA know the location of the mass gravesite but due to winter weather conditions any exhumation may have to wait until thaw.

It is legal for animals to be killed by their owners but it must be done in a humane manner. Currently under the Cruelty to Animals Act, courts can impose a lifetime ban on owning or possessing animals up to six months in jails and a fine of up to $5,000 for a first offence. But these penalties are uncommon.

The story has sent waves of anger and disbelief throughout the community and beyond. OAW staff and others involved have been threatened.

"We've seen some threats made to individuals and entities, and we're following up on that," said LeClair.

"It's considered a criminal offence under the criminal code, and we'll investigate each one to determine their validity. It's serious, but we're not sure how valid many of these threats are."

The story has gone global and was picked up by aggregator sites like where names, phone numbers and email addresses were posted.

LeClair said it is illegal to make threats, and any valid threats could result in charges under the Criminal Code.

In press releases this week OAW, which took full operational control of Howling Dogs in May 2010, maintained that it "did not instruct the General Manager" of Howling Dogs to carry out the killings in the manner described in the media.

Since May the kennel has undergone significant changes, state the releases. All male dogs in the kennel were also neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies and manage its population, a program that was implemented in concert with a Whistler veterinarian.