Canadian sled dog massacre sparks international outrage as people ask how could man’s best friend be treated so.

by Sleddoggin Staff on February 16, 2012

Article by Janice M. Sears

This article will horrify, anger, and enrage you. And rightly so, for something terrible has happened, something that should never have been thought… much less done.

100 sled dogs were slaughtered by a Canadian touri company… because bookings were down and expenses had to be cut…. to the point of organizing a grisly massacre of canines guilty of nothing more than doing their job and helping to keep humans employed. They were now older, some worn out, others sick. And so with excruciating nonchalance and little thought beforehand, they were butchered.

Here are the facts now just emerging:

April 21 and 23, 2010 100 sled dogs owned by Howling Dog Tours Whistler, Inc. of Whistler, British Columbia, a subsidiary of Outdoors Adventures at Whistler, Ltd. were slaughtered. The executioner was Robert Fawcett, Howling Dog Tours’ operations manager.

Fawcett used a shotgun and a knife for his work. It was bloody, prolonged, botched. Injured dogs tried to escape. One animal, failing to die with the one shot allotted limped away “with a face blown off and an eye hanging out.” Yet another was buried as dead, only to emerge the next day… to be finally, painfully finished off.

The terror of the animals, their yelps, the fear, the blood, the carnage must have been horrifying… although Fawcett requested no help. He should have. The vivid remembrance of what he had done and how he had done it seems to have haunted this man, who was not thought to be a cruel person. Just how much we may never know since Fawcett has been under wraps, no commenting, since the incidents, not least because he has been the subject of numerous death threats, their number increasing as the story becomes known.

Fawcett’s condition became known January 25, 2011 when he filed a WorkSafeBC claim review. Fawcett was compensated for post-traumatic stress disorder. And all hell broke loose as people learned about what Fawcett had done to the huskies we all love so much.

How could this have happened… mass denial all round.

Fact: the 2010 Winter Olympics were not as lucrative as projected and on the principle of “something’s got to give” the company in the person of Joey Houssian, owner, authorized Fawcett to euthanize “sick and old” dogs. Houssian apparently didn’t enquire how Fawcett would do his work.

Now, think for a minute. If you were the owner of a tour company in a competitive industry where image is everything; would you inquire how the dogs your customers love so much were to be done away with? Houssian seems not to have cared; he took the standard line that expenses had to be brought into line… damn the dogs.They had done their work; they were expendable. Nothing strange about that at all.

No attempt seems to have been made, or even considered, to help these huskies live out the remainder of their lives in comfort and security. No attempt was made to find a good place, a good home. These were tools of the business, and they were getting the standard (brutal) treatment, the way things were always done on the icy frontier.

Manager Fawcett’s claim review said he approached a veterinarian about the planned executions but that (unnamed) individual refused to euthanize healthy dogs… something which should have given Fawcett pause… but didn’t. The company’s owner wanted cuts… and cuts he would get on the killings fields where these beautiful animals ended their useful lives in terror.

Fawcett proceeded with his task… clueless on what he was doing, how he was doing it, and what would happen if the world should learn what he did and not regard it as acceptable practice.

The world did learn. And its response was swift and sure: how could this have happened? Had no stopped to consider the slaughter of huskies was now unacceptable, not withstanding that such slaughter was immemorial, a tried and true custom reaching back to pioneer days, and before.

The utility and romance of the huskies.

It is hard to imagine a single individual who, upon becoming acquainted with huskies and other sled dogs, does not establish an instant friendship. These dogs are expert at this and know how to make themselves irresistible.

They know, too, just how invaluable they have been to the growth and development of Western Canada… and Alaska. For 15,000 years, researchers say, the pace of business, commerce and travel in those remote areas moved upon the tender pads of huskies and their ancestors, the Eskimo or Inuit dog of coastal cultures and the Interior Village dogs of Athabascan Indians.

As airplanes and highways made their way through the areas where for generations huskies had sported as lords of these far distant places the importance of these dogs diminished. Then, recreational “mushing” and the advent of sled dog races came… and as the tourists came in their tens of thousands the sled dogs regained their pride of place. People rejoiced…. because these lands without huskies lack the lapping face of these exuberant, always cheerful and welcoming friends.

Now 100 of these creatures who harmed no one and benefited many were so many mained and rotting carcasses, terrible reminders that old-time traditions are not always good; that no one thought twice about what Manager Fawcett would do or how he would do it.

No one asked, as they should have, whether there wasn’t some better alternative than premature extinction. Surely someone might have so considered.

But no one did and so Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations for British Columbia’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, entered the picture, saying the case was the worst she ever had to investigate. Prime ministers, provincial and national, legislators of all parties, corporate executives in the tour industry… they have all jumped up and promised reforms… as people worldwide insist upon better treatment for the huskies and long overdue scrutiny and reforms in the businesses using these animals.

Thus, even in death, the huskies worked for the good of their kind… and for the benefit of humans too. For it cannot be good for us to be so unconcerned and unobservant about the well being of creatures helpful to us, deserving good treatment, not worn out “traditions.”

You see, we failed these dogs… though these dogs have never failed us. This is why the genus caninus remains man’s best friend, the very essence of loyalty, even when we mistreat and harm them; for such is the depth of their loyalty to us… though God knows what we have done to deserve it.

Written by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also the author of 18 best-selling business books.

Republished with author’s permission by Janice M. Sears

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