About 70 dog lovers from far and wide gathered outside the Whistler Village Gondola for a "funeral procession" in tribute to 100 sled dogs that were killed last April.
Jordan Tesluk, a Ph.D student in forestry safety who lives in Squamish, was lead organizer for the demonstration.
Speaking to Pique , he said the aim of the procession was to express the community's love for canines and to raise money for animal charities such as Whistler's animal shelter WAG, the SPCA and the Squamish Needy Animals Foundation (SNAF).
"I saw an opportunity to help people express themselves in a positive way and to do something for the people that are working every day to protect animals," he said.
"What you see today, including myself and I'll be the first to admit it, is a lot of weekend activists and there's people that fight tooth and nail to on a day to day basis to protect animals. The best thing that people can do is support those people that are doing that good work."
The group gathered near the Whistler Village Gondola at about noon on Saturday, right in front of the Outdoor Adventures Whistler kiosk in the Hilton building. The Outdoor Adventures sign has been removed and a security guard stood outside the kiosk.
Outdoor Adventures, according to company statements, had a financial interest in the company whose general manager claims to have euthanized up to 100 sled dogs last April. Outdoor has stated that it understood that 50 old, unwell or un-adoptable dogs were to be euthanized. It denies telling the general manager to shoot them.
There has been a public outcry over the shootings of the dogs after documents suggest the killings many have been inhumane.
Outdoor Adventures staff have been the subject of death threats recently that are now the subject of an RCMP investigation.
Those gathered were instructed to bring their dogs for a procession that wound its way from the gondola, through the Village Stroll to Lost Lake Park and finally to the base of Blackcomb, where the demonstrators held a moment of silence for the slain dogs.
Tim Koshul, a Whistler resident who is organizing his own "Dog Walk for Change" next weekend, said the procession was a "nice thing" for Whistler.
"It's good to see people come out on a Saturday afternoon and show their solidarity with something that was tragic," he said.
RCMP members accompanying the protest held off traffic so the demonstration could walk by safely.
Sherri Snider, a resident of Bellingham, Washington, was in town for the protest with friend Tanya Sanger and their dogs Tai and Summit. A resort regular for at least 15 years, she was coming up to Whistler with family anyway. She was initially reluctant to take part but was happy once there that she had a chance to.
"If I would have had the choice, I probably would not have come up because of this," Snider said, referring to the demonstration. "But I'm really glad that we did because this is the only way we get things changed, is by speaking out and making ourselves heard."
She said the story was all over the media in Washington State.
"I have a pet sitting business and people are just appalled," she said.
"We saw it on the news, we saw it on the national news down there, the Bellingham Herald had it..."