Enjoying life, off the hamster wheel
A few days ago, it came to light in the news that an outdoor activities company in Whistler, BC, Canada named “Outdoor Adventures” ordered the manager of their dog sledding division to kill approximate 100 dogs in late April 2010.
This happened approximately two months after the Winter Olympics over a two day period on April 21 and April 23, 2010.
I think it was the radio station CKNW that originally got the information about the “cull” off a lawfirm’s website. If it hadn’t been published on that site, it wouldn’t have been made public, and we would never have gotten to know of some of the horrible practices that take place in the tourist dog sledding industry.
What I have been able to piece together from various news reports is that the person responsible for the killings applied to WorkSafe BC for compensation on May 7, 2010 due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of the mass killing. His name has been withheld from publication.
According to the claim filed with the Worker’s Compensation Board, the employer had directed the man to put down 30% of the company’s ‘herd’ of 300 dogs on April 21 and 23, which resulted in 100 dogs. Apparently the person in question had tried to adopt-out the dogs unsuccessfully, and a vet that had been approached to euthanize the dogs refused to do it on the grounds that he would not destroy healthy animals.
The reason there were 300 dogs was because the company had acquired more than it’s usual amount specifically for the Olympic tourist season. When the Olympics were over, the costs of upkeep were too high, so the company decided to destroy 1/3 of their stock.
What doesn’t add up is the timing stated in the report. How could he have tried to find homes for the dogs when the directive to destroy the dogs, and the act itself, happened on the same day?
The report states that the two days of killing were extremely traumatic for dogs, multiple shots were sometimes needed to kill them and failed attempts resulted in half-blown off faces and even one animal was discovered to still be alive after being thrown into the mass grave the day before. Here is the application for compensation: WCBDogCase2010.pdf. Warning, it is graphic. It’s akin to a Dog Holocaust.
I find this story deplorable. Why did the man carry out this cruel and inhumane act? Why didn’t he just say “no”? Who owns Outdoor Adventures, and shouldn’t they also be held accountable? Why didn’t WorkSafe contact the SPCA after receiving this compensation claim? It’s so serious that the RCMP and the BCSPCA are investigating it, and criminal charges could be laid.
Let’s start with Outdoor Adventures. They are a company that specializes in outdoor activities in the Whistler/Pemberton region in BC. Their website lists the following recreational activities: snowmobiling, snowshoeing, sleighrides, backcountry tours in a Hummer, ATV-ing, horseback riding and dog sledding. That they also have horses is disturbing. It is possible that they have the same directive for their horses, to cull and kill them when they get too expensive to keep.
Apparently Outdoor Adventures Whistler (OAW) is claiming that Howling Dog Tours Whistler Inc. is responsible for the killings. Another company in Canmore, Alberta, with the name Howling Dog Tours Ltd (Canmore) is being implicated. In order to set the record straight, they have posted a statement on their website stating that they are not affiliated with the Whistler company of the same name, and that Robert Fawcett bought their interest in the Whistler company in 2004. OAW has also made a statement to this effect on their website.
According to an article in the Vancouver Sun, OAW has a financial stake in Howling Dogs Tours Whistler, and that OAW is owned by Joey Houssian, the son of Joe Houssian, the former owner of Intrawest, which was purchased by Fortress last year and owns most of Whistler.
Yahoo reports that OAW claims it did not direct the manager of Howling Dogs Tours Whistler Inc. to “euthanize” the dogs “in the manner described in the report”.
The word “euthanize” implies killing in a “humane” fashion, without pain or suffering. It could be argued that OAW directed the manager to kill 100 dogs.
The owner of OAW is equally responsibile because he is the boss, he’s in charge; therefore, he must ensure that putting down the animals is, 1) first and foremost necessary, and that all other options have been properly examined, and 2) if determined as a last resort to be necessary, that it be done humanely. It is an egregious shirking of responsibility on the part of OAW to not admit to their part in this horrific crime. To say they didn’t order the killings to take place ‘in such a manner’ makes me think several cases of “crimes against humanity” where arguments of a similar nature have been dismissed.
Furthermore, as I’ve been reading more and more about the manner in which dog sledding companies operate, I’m beginning to see a pattern, and that is, it is not uncommon for them to shoot dogs in order to keep the numbers under control. Neutering dogs is apparently not ideal because they lose their aggressiveness and become “lazy”. Unwanted litters happen. As well, as the dogs get old or sick, they are put down. Finally, often people who use sled dogs in remote areas aren’t able to take the dogs to vets that are hundreds of miles away, so they are shot on the property instead. A clean shot is painless. When it’s done in the manner described in the report, it’s not.
The fact that OAW directed Howling Dogs to kill 1/3 of the “herd” is reprehensible no matter what the method, particularly when it’s obvious that it was for economic reasons. And the fact that the person tasked with the job carried it out, is nauseating.
The Pique (a local Whistler newspaper) published a story that claims OAW has hired the PR firm Hoggan and Associates to do damage control. With deep pockets, they’ll deflect this calamity, just watch. The bastards will be like our own Premier, made out of Teflon®.
Which leads me to my other question, who was the man who carried out the cull, and why did he do it?
Howling Dog Tours Ltd. (Canmore), sold their interest to Robert Fawcett in its entirety, in 2004. OAW has had a “financial interest” in Howling Dog Tours Whistler for the past 4 years. As it’s early 2011, the could have assumed their interest in 2006 or 2007. I’m curious to know how much of an interest they hold.
I can’t find an article I found earlier that indicated Robert Fawcett, after selling interest in the company to OAW, continued to function as the company’s manager until May 2010, when OAW assumed full control due to his taking leave on account of PTSD.
Why did he do it? That’s the million dollar question.
Another blogger has posted some info about him from posts he made online on a PTSD forum and a dogsledding forum. Perhaps this provides a window, albeit small and murky, into the psyche of the man. He had previously seen a counsellor before the “massive cull” because of the stress of putting down other dogs earlier.
He is married, and has two children.
A report dated today, Feb. 2, 2011, from The Vancouver Sun indicates that he had notified the SPCA in May of his concerns about the health and living conditions of the dogs. Curiously, he mentioned that he and another employee were off work “due to stress with the herd cull we experienced.” Does that mean another claim was made to WCB? Does the BCSPCA know more than they’re letting on? Is this yet another clog in the information stream?
This is a terrible event, and strikes one to the core. Humans and dogs have a relationship that spans tens of thousands of years. It’s a relationship of convenience, absolutely. But should also be of respect as well.