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Sled dog evidence ready

Thousands of documents pertaining to the alleged slaughter of sled dogs in Whistler poised to be filed to Crown counsel



After months of intensive evidence collection from the autopsies conducted on the 52 sled dogs removed from a mass grave in Whistler, the BC SPCA is ready to file its findings to Crown Council this week.

"It's a huge amount of evidence that we've got that we've pulled together so we're actually hoping to send it this week or very early next week," said the BC SPCA's Craig Daniel.

Crown will examine the evidence to verify whether the animals suffered unnecessarily when they were killed by Howling Dog Tours Whistler co-owner Bob Fawcett in April of 2010. Fawcett's gory account of the cull came to light when he filed a WorkSafeBC document seeking reparation for psychological damage suffered from euthanizing the dogs.

Craig said resolution of the case is still a ways off.

"I understand it's going to be in the tens of thousands of pages," he said.

"I suspect it won't be quick, because just to review the sheer amount of documentation will take Crown a significant amount of time, and again, we don't know how the Crown office is going to do it - whether they'll put one person on to review the file or a team to review it."

The BC SPCA is recommending cruelty charges under the criminal code against Fawcett. If found guilty, he could face up to five years in prison or a $10,000 fine.

To further protect animal welfare in B.C., the province and the sled dog industry has formed the Professional Mushers Association of BC, which met for the first time last week in Kamloops. According to the Association, their mandate is to: join and network commercial sled dog tour operators in B.C. for the purpose of information exchange, professional support, and operator unity; to be leaders in establishing and maintaining standards for kennel guidelines, sled dog care, and mandatory operator guidelines in B.C.; and to inform and educate the government, as well as the public, on the working sled dog and professional tour operations in B.C.

"The formation of the Professional Mushers Association of BC is an important step toward the Province's commitment to ensuring the welfare and safety of working sled dogs in B.C.," said Minister of Agriculture Don McRae. "It will also give the industry a strong, unified voice and I look forward to building a solid relationship with the new PMABC."