Due to a slow winter season, and because of a downturn in the sled dog touring business after the 2010 Winter Olympics, Howling Dogs Tours, based in Whistler BC, authorized the cull of 100 sled dogs from the 300-dog pack in an appalling manner - so appalling that it may even be judged to be criminal when the investigation is finished. The massacre only came to light because of a successful workman's compensation [WorkSafeBC] claim for post-traumatic stress by the employee who killed the dogs over a two day period in April 2010. The worker said he suffered panic attacks and nightmares because of the grisly scenes that unfolded as he carried out the company’s orders. The employee ...
shot the dogs one at a time over the course of two days in front of the other dogs. Often he missed or only wounded a dog with the first shot. At least one of the dogs tossed into the pit that served as a mass grave was still alive. Susie got away after being shot in the face and sought refuge among the other dogs. While shooting her again to finish the job, the man wounded one of the dogs that was to have been spared and it had to be killed as well.
In the past, his practice when "euthanizing" a dog was to take it for a walk in the woods and give it a nice meat meal to distract it. That would make for a calm environment and kept the dogs away from the general population so as not to disrupt them. He would use a gun to euthanize the dogs,
but because of the large number of dogs he said he was forced to euthanize the dogs in full view of the other dogs and by about the 15th dog it appeared to him “the dogs were experiencing anxiety and stress from observing the euthanasia of other members of the pack and were panicking.” His last memory of killing the final dogs was "fuzzy" and in some cases he felt it was simpler to "get behind the dogs and slit their throats and let them bleed out."
By the end, as he told the workman's comp review board, he was covered in blood. When he finished, he cleared up the mess, filled in the mass grave and tried to bury the memories as deeply as he could.After the news broke with the predictable shocked reaction from the public, the race was on to duck responsibility. WorkSafeBC refused to confirm or deny any of the details, arguing that they constitute medical records. Outdoor Adventures, one of the agents for Howling Dog Tours, said they were aware of the cull, but had no idea of how it was carried out and they are now as shocked and appalled as everyone else to learn what happened. The BC SPCA and the RCMP are now on the case. Marcie Moriarty, head of the BC SPCA cruelty investigations division, said “many people will be shocked” not only about the culling but how sled dogs are treated in general. “There is a problem with the sled dog industry in general. People see these 20 sled dogs, an idyllic setting with snow in the background and think how great. But what they don’t see is the 200 dogs tethered and sleeping out back, chained to a barrel.” She said the SPCA plans to uncover the mass grave to examine the dogs’ remains but can’t do that immediately because the ground is frozen under several feet of snow. Moriarty said she’s “glad a light is finally being shed on this industry. I just shudder whenever I see the ads for sled dog tours because I know how the majority of dogs are living. There are a few good operations but on a smaller scale.” Sources: Vancouver Sun, also from the Vancouver Sun (this one with additional horrific details), an opinion column from the Vancouver Sun, Calgary Sun, Pique newsmagazine, and the blog post that made me aware of this story: Miss Snow it All