Much to the shock, anger and sadness of local residents, Whistler has been making national and international news headlines this week for an incredible act of animal cruelty, the alleged slaughter of almost 100 sled dogs. But animal lovers will be coming out of the woodwork next week to show the world that the community does, in fact, care about its four-legged furry friends.
"This is a dog town! It's one of the comments we get all the time at WAG, that, 'we've never been anywhere where ... the dogs are so well-behaved...'" said Paula Del Bosco, Executive Director of Whistler Animals Galore (WAG).
"You go into the North Shore Credit Union and every dog beelines for the one spot because they know that's where they're going to get their treats!"
WAG is hosting a fundraising event dubbed "For The Love of Dogs" at Moe Joe's next Friday (though the party was actually planned well before news of the sled dog deaths broke).
"For myself, I have, obviously, a huge passion for WAG, but I also love CARDA, which is the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association," explained Paula Del Bosco, executive director of WAG, "So I thought, 'What a cool thing! Both of our goals are for the love of dogs, and I thought February 11 is around Valentine's Day, so I thought, 'What a great way to celebrate Valentine's Day and peoples' love for their dogs!'"
The party is a fundraiser for the two organizations, which are driven by their love of dogs, with proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction to be split down the middle.
"We've got amazing prizes! Whistler Heliskiing has just given us ... four heliski runs, Blackcomb Aviation gave us a five-person drop off on Rainbow, we've got a massage at Nita Lake Lodge, we've got Dakine luggage from Whistler Village Sports," Del Bosco said, "The whole town has really come together and given us an amazing amount of things to help support these two amazing causes."
Other prizes include a night at the Fairmont in Vancouver, return flight from Vancouver to Victoria courtesy of Harbour Air, a day at the RCMP firing range with an officer, a treatment at Local Motion, and a hydration pack from Trek Dirt Series.
While some of WAG's operating funds come from the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Del Bosco points out that a large portion of their overall budget comes from fundraising efforts.
"Almost a third of what keeps WAG alive is fundraising. We're so lucky because, well we can see from the incident yesterday, just how passionate people are for dogs and animals in general. We have wonderful, wonderful support that way."
Moe Joe's can hold 260 people and in light of recent events, the party will probably be a sold-out event.
"I was honestly thinking even before this god-awful incident happened that we would be full, anyways," Del Bosco said. "The more people who can come out and the more people who are interested in bidding on the items and getting some incredible things is just going to make it wonderful."
This isn't the first party WAG has hosted for our four-legged friends: last year, when Marley was shot with an arrow, they held a fundraising event at Moe Joe's.
"It seems that they're always open and willing, and we certainly do appreciate that kind of open-arms atmosphere!"
DJ Lon will be at the decks, while Richard Wyne will MC the live auction. Tickets to the party are $10 (which includes a frosty Kokanee), and are available through WAG or CARDA dog handlers.
"I can't wait to see everyone out there! I think it's going to be a really fun night," said Del Bosco.