The sled dog operation at the centre of animal massacre allegations, which drew international attention to Whistler almost a year ago, is now in the hands of a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to improving animal welfare.
Sue Eckersley and Kirby Brown have announced (Dec.14) that the sled dog operation formerly owned by Outdoor Adventures Whistler (OAW) was donated to a newly created organization called "The Sled Dog Foundation."
The new foundation will own and manage all operations and use the proceeds to improve sled dog welfare.
According to Eckersley, a team of up to 15 employees will run the sled dog company under the foundation's direction. Eckersley is a director with the foundation along with Stephanie McDonald, the CEO of the Board of the Edmonton Humane Society and Whistler veterinarian Dr. David Lane of Coast Mountain Veterinary Hospital.
Eckersley said she has been out to visit the operation a few times in the last few weeks and is impressed with everything.
"I'm so excited about the health of the dogs and operation out there," she said.
Joey Houssian of OAW has donated everything associated with the sled business. The land leases, the dogs, kennels, and equipment are now all in the hands of the foundation following a cull of up to 56 sled dogs in April of 2010. When the mass extermination became public knowledge in January of 2011 an investigation was launched and Crown Counsel is reviewing the facts to determine if criminal charges should be laid.
"The allegations about how the sled dogs were treated came as a great shock to me and my staff," said Houssian. "Since then, and after significant research and consultation with animal welfare experts, academics and others, my team concluded that we would try to influence positive change for the industry and for the welfare of sled dogs. We believe the creation of this Foundation is the best way to achieve this."