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Sled dog report to be public after March 25

Task force will deliver review to minister of agriculture but public won't see it until later

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A report into practices by the sled dog industry will be delivered to the minister of agriculture on March 25, but it may not go public until some time later.

A communications manager with B.C.'s ministry of agriculture told Pique via e-mail last week that the task force will submit its report on schedule and that it will be made public upon review.

The spokeswoman would not offer any comment on timeline but expected there would not be a long time gap between the report going to the minister and then becoming available to the public. She would also not comment on how the report would be structured, whether it would come out in parts or in a single release.

The Sled Dog Task Force was appointed by former Premier Gordon Campbell on February 2 in response to a proliferation of media reports on the killings of an estimated 100 dogs near Whistler, believed to have occurred April 21 and 23, 2010.

It is headed by MLA Terry Lake, a veterinarian, who was recently appointed minister of environment by new Premier Christy Clark. Its mandate is to investigate practices in the sled dog industry and it will not perform any review that will impede an ongoing investigation into the dog deaths.

Lake was not available for an interview but he said in a previous Pique story that "dog culls" are not a regular industry practice.

The killings are believed to have taken place at the hands of Bob Fawcett, the general manager of Howling Dog Tours Whistler, Inc., a subcontractor to Outdoor Adventures Whistler, that did dog sled tours for the company. According to documents filed with WorkSafe BC, he killed the dogs and buried them in a mass grave after a post-Olympic slowdown in business.

Fawcett has not been charged.

The BC SPCA is carrying out an investigation into the incident with the assistance of the RCMP.

Marcie Moriarty, head of the SPCA's animal cruelty investigations, said charges may be months away yet as investigators with the association have yet to dig up the grave, which is currently buried under a mound of snow.

Moriarty confirmed that the SPCA plans to dig up the grave but that it might not happen for a couple of months yet.

"Definitely not this month, definitely not in April," she.

"We'll just have to wait and see, hopefully in May or June."

However even if investigators dig up the grave, it may be a long while yet before they can even use the evidence to press any charges. Once it's dug up, investigators will have to look at the conditions of the bodies and possibly send samples to a laboratory for more testing.

"It's not like a CSI thing," Moriarty said, referring to the popular television series about forensic experts. "In speaking with the experts, to get the evidence from the dig, is looking at months from there."

 

 

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