Puddle Jumpers

Enjoying life, off the hamster wheel

Companies, Lies and Sled Dog Deaths

On Feb. 2, Outdoor Adventures Whistler posted a statement on the media page of their website that is apparently a joint statement between Outdoor Adventures Whistler (OAW) and Bob Fawcett. It complicated, rather than cleared, things up.

The WCB Review Decision WCBDogCase2010.pdf, included a summary of a “statutory declaration” submitted by Fawcett’s lawyer.

I wondered what a statutory declaration was and looked it up on the Law Society of BC’s webpage. Here’s an excerpt of the page.

and in section 69 of the Evidence Act, RSBC 1996, c. 124:
Statutory declarations
69. A gold commissioner, mayor or commissioner authorized to take affidavits, or any other person authorized by law to administer an oath in any matter, may receive the solemn declaration of any person voluntarily making it before him or her in attestation of the execution of any writing, deed or instrument, or of the truth of any fact, or of any account rendered in writing, in the following words:
I, A.B., solemnly declare that [state the facts declared to], and I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing it to be true and knowing that it is of the same legal force and effect as if made under oath.

So what this means is it’s a legally binding statement, and that the person making the statement is swearing that they’re telling the truth.

So, let’s break this down:

In the joint statement between OAW and Mr. Fawcett, it says Fawcett advised Outdoor Adventures that he would be euthanizing approximately 50 dogs because they were sick and old.

Yet in his statutory declaration Fawcett claims he was instructed to put down 100 dogs by his employer.

Earlier in the WCB document, it states that Fawcett’s original Application for Compensation filed on May 7, 2010, claimed he had to put down approximately 70 dogs. The Employer’s Report of Injury that was filed on May 18, 2010, indicated Fawcett put down 100 dogs.

It doesn’t indicate anywhere in the WCB document why the dogs had to be put down, but it does state that a veterinarian had been contacted who had refused to euthanize healthy animals.

Faced with the monumental task of putting down so many dogs, the employee felt he had no other choice but to shoot them all in full view of the other dogs who were slated to be killed. Like I said before, it was like a Dog Concentration Camp, complete with mass grave.

Outdoor Adventures first issued a statement on Jan. 31, 2011 stating the employee (Bob Fawcett) submitted both the employee report and the employer’s report to WCB.

This is a serious allegation indeed. Did Fawcett lie on his statutory declaration? Why the contradiction between the joint statement and statutory declaration?

Furthermore, why did Joey Hussian, as the owner of Outdoor Adventures not inquire as to the methods that would be taken to carry-out such a massive “cull”? No matter how you look at it, 50 dogs or 100 dogs – either way, that’s a lot of dogs. And you’d think that the parent company, Outdoor Adventures, would want to ensure that its subsidiary, Howling Dog Tours, would be handling it humanely. And corporations don’t operate without human intervention -corporations as a concept, don’t have brains- so Joey Hussian would have a hand in the operation of both companies. As such, he should be held personally accountable for allowing an inhumane activity to take place within his company. When you think about the morality of the situation, the reasons for the employee carrying it out, the reasons for other employees in the company to be complicit in it, and the reasons for Hussian for being passive in his role, perhaps this article from the Globe and Mail can give us some insight.

I found a very good Letter to the Editor in the Whistler Question. Here’s the link, but to make it easier for you to read, I’m posting it below. It is well written and addresses some of the questions I have, in a more eloquent and succinct manner.

Finally, I’ve been reading about the death threats sent to Outdoor Adventures, Bob Fawcett and Howling Dog Tours Canmore, and I don’t understand why anyone would think that’s a good idea. What the hell does threatening someone’s life solve? Does it bring back the dogs? Does it solve similar problems that might arise in the future? I understand the outrage and frustration people are feeling, but I don’t believe in “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” That’s just feeding into the old militaristic escalation of force paradigm.

If they want to do something, they could transfer that anger and energy to lobbying government to give animals better rights and to strengthen the laws against the inhumane treatment of animals. Instead of writing death threats, they could write their MLA, MP, or a letter to the editor of their local paper. Or blow off some steam by going to the local animal shelter and volunteering their time with the animals there.

Or attend the Dog Walk For Change on Feb. 12 in Whistler. Or start another one closer to home. In the end, little by little, we can make a difference, and little by little, with more and more people, we can make a big difference.

Here’s the Letter to the Editor from the Wistler Question:

A response to OAW

February 2, 2011
Dear Editor,
The killing of one dog simply because it is of no use to your business is unacceptable; the massacre of 100 dogs is an atrocity.
On January 31, 2011 Outdoor Adventures at Whistler (OAW) released a statement in response to the public outcry, and pending BCSPCA and RCMP’s investigation into the slaughter of 100 sled dogs. The statement begins by denying any knowledge of “the regrettable and tragic events regarding the cull of animals at Howling Dog Tours Whistler Inc. [and that further]…”OAW did not instruct the General Manager to carry out the call in the manner described in the [WCB] report”.
I would first like to take issue with their use of the word “cull”.  Culling is the process of removing animals from a group based on specific criteria; either to reinforce desirable characteristics or to remove undesirable characteristics. In this regard, perhaps OAW can clarify what characteristics they were attempting to reinforce or remove from dogs who, were it not for the economic downturn, would still be performing physically superior tasks.
OAW goes on to state that they were “aware of the relocation and euthanization of dogs at Howling Dogs in April 2010 but it was [their] expectation that it was done in a proper, legal and humane manner.” As an active animal advocate, I have no recollection of a call to the public or rescue organizations for assistance in ‘relocating’ these dogs. Perhaps, OAW can be more specific on the exact efforts that they and/or Howling Dog made in their attempts to place these dogs.
Further, by their statement above, they do admit to approving the policy to kill those dogs who were not located. Let’s be honest, while perhaps ‘legal,’ there is nothing ‘proper’ or ‘humane’ about killing perfectly healthy dogs simply because they are no longer profitable.
While OAW claims to have the authority to instruct the General Manager of Howling Dogs to remove and kill the dogs, they go on to deny any operational control of the company.
“While OAW has had a financial interest in Howling Dogs for 4 years the operational control of the company remained with the employee referred to in the WCB ruling who was the General Manager of Howling Dogs at the time of the incident.”
Again, perhaps OAW can clarify how they have the control to instruct the General Manager in what he should do, but have no control over in how he does it. From a solely business perspective, one would assume that OAW would be as concerned with how things are done as they are with what is done. Ultimately, both impact the bottom line.
It is also not clear to me how OAW can claim that they only found out about these events on Jan. 28 after reading the WCB ruling, when, by their own admission, “Not long after the events of late April, the employee in question ceased managing the business. This employee continues to get our support as he heals from his injuries and illness.”
While it is not clear what they mean in terms of support, it is written in the context that the employee is receiving financial support from OAW. Are we to believe then that, after years of employment, OAW not only accepted the resignation (or absence) of their General Manager, but they also provided him with ongoing financial support without any knowledge of the reasons behind his ending his employment and ongoing health issues?
Excuse me if I am remiss in believing that any company would provide ongoing financial support to an employee on leave without any questions asked.
Finally, the statement ends with a list of the changes that have occurred, since May 2010, all of which sound very positive, but raise a couple of questions.
1. If OAW was not responsible for the Howling Dogs operations and thereby unaware of the atrocities that were committed, why is it that a month after this massacre, sweeping changes were supposedly put in place?
2. What conditions were the dogs living in prior to these changes? (One changed identified creation of an open-pen style kennel where dogs are not tethered or chained).
I suppose it is not surprising that OAW is not taking any responsibility for their part is this tragedy; my only hope is that they are held criminally responsible for their reprehensible acts.
In closing, let it be said that I have no sympathy for the General Manager, who has now claimed himself a victim. He could have refused to do this. He could have contacted rescue organizations and asked for help — believe me, they would have come.
He could have and he should have called the BCSPCA and the RCMP.
Howling Dogs… how fitting, as we can only imagine the cries of the 100 who suffered so greatly.
Kathy Powelson
Paws for Hope


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