The man who, by his own count and admission, killed at least 70 sled dogs — some of which lingered in pain after he shot and slashed them — was sentenced to three years probation yesterday in British Columbia.
Robert Fawcett, 40, said the sled dog tour company he managed in Whistler ordered the cull, which came to light after Fawcett filed a workmen’s compensation claim stating that carrying out the orders had caused him post traumatic stress disorder.
As part of an investigation, 54 dogs were unearthed and examined, though estimates were that as many as 100 were involved.
Yesterday, Judge Steve Merrick ruled that Fawcett had the “best interests” of the dogs at heart when he culled the pack near Whistler after a slump in business following the 2010 Olympic Games, the Globe and Mail reports.
Fawcett was not charged with killing the animals — that’s, unfortunately, legal — but with “causing unnecessary pain and suffering” to nine of the animals, namely those that lingered after he wounded them, and, in some cases, were thrown into graves before they died.
Graphic testimony at Thursday’s hearings left some in tears, and Judge Merrick’s ruling was slammed by the British Columbia SPCA.
Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations for the BC-SPCA, said Fawcett “basically walked away,” and, through his injury claim, “he was paid taxpayer dollars in compensation for committing the crime.”
“We put forward strong evidence that animals suffered, and that this occurred over a few days,” Moriarty said. “When you look at other animal-cruelty cases in Canada … I think the sentence here is not reflective of what Canadians feel.”
The defense recommended no jail time for Fawcett, who they noted was carrying out orders when he began culling the herd at Howling Dog Tours, the owners of which had put an “absolute freeze” on spending.
In a statement, read in court, Fawcett described killing Susie, who was the mother of his family’s dog. He described what he called “execution-style” killings, in which he wrestled some of the dogs to the ground and stood on them with one foot to shoot them. He described one dog who survived the first bullet, and how he had to climb into the grave in which he had tossed the dog to finish the killing.
“I will never stop feeling guilty for the suffering that the dogs endured that day. I feel like part of me died with those dogs,” Fawcett’s defense lawyer, Greg Diamond, quoted his client as saying.
The defense supplied a list of 30 character references to the judge that described Fawcett’s dedication to the dogs.
The prosecution didn’t push for the maximum sentence — five years in prison — and noted Fawcett had no criminal record. Crown lawyers emphasized that he was charged in connection with the suffering of only nine of the dogs, not with the mass euthanization.
“Many dogs suffered from the reckless acts of Mr. Fawcett. However, it’s important to bear in mind that he has not been convicted of and is not being sentenced for euthanizing sled dogs generally,” said Crown lawyer Nicole Gregoire. “This is not a sentencing of the sled dog industry, or a discussion of the morality of the euthanization of sled dogs. The fact is that whether the court and the public like it or not, it is lawful to euthanize animals.”
The killings occurred in April, 2010. The bodies of the dogs were exhumed, after the ground thawed, in May, 2011. They were reburied at a memorial ceremony earlier this month.
(Photo: By Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 23rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, british columbia, buried, canada, charges, claim, company, compensation, cull, dogs, euthanasia, exhumed, howling dog, investigation, pain, pets, post traumatic stress disorder, probation, robert fawcett, sentence, shot, slashed, sled dogs, spca, suffering, three years, touring, tours, whistler, workers, workmens
Two and a half years after the manager of a sled dog tour company shot and slashed the throats of scores of no-longer-needed huskies, he’s scheduled for sentencing in court.
Bob Fawcett — who claims the owners of Howling Dog Tours ordered him to cull the herd, and that doing so gave him post-traumatic stress disorder — is to be sentenced tomorrow in British Columbia’s Provincial Court in North Vancouver.
The animals, owned by the Whistler-based tour company, were killed in April 2010, but were exhumed more than a year later after an SPCA investigation. They were reburied earlier this month in a memorial ceremony.
Fawcett entered a guilty plea in August to charges of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal and faces maximum sentence of five years in prison and $75,000 in fines.
The mass slaying came to light after Fawcett filed a workman’s compensation claim, stating that shooting, slashing and dumping the bodies of about 100 dogs over a two-day period had left him with post traumatic stress disorder.
He said the cull was ordered by company owners after the demand for sled dog tours dropped after the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Since the slaughter, the province has revised its anti-cruelty laws to provide new protection for sled dogs, and established more severe penalties for cruelty.
After being dug up and examined, the bodies of 56 of the sled dogs were reburied at a pet cemetery near Penticton, British Columbia, earlier this month at a memorial ceremony.
Fifty-six separate stones were placed individually on a memorial stone which read, “In loving memory of the Whistler sled dogs,” according to the Penticton Herald. Mourners attending the ceremony brought their own dogs, and some wore T-shirts that read, “Justice for the Whistler sled dogs.”
“You (dogs) will never be forgotten, and we pledge that in your memories that we will fight any form of animal cruelty and abuse,” Marylee Davies, president of the BC-SPCA, said during the service.
As Fawcett’s sentencing neared, a former volunteer BC-SPCA investigator has come forward to question whether the organization — based on what she saw on a 2000 visit to Howling Dog Tours — could have prevented the tragedy.
Eleanor Matthews visited Howling Dog Tours in January of 2000, when 73 dogs were under Fawcett’s car, and, described inhumane conditions in a report submitted to the SPCA, according to the Edmonton Journal.
She took photos of dogs, some emaciated, cramped in cages, and crammed into crates on two trailers — including this one:
Matthews says she joined the SPCA as a voluntary investigator about 14 years ago. She quit when the SPCA failed to act on her report, declining to take it to prosecutors so charges could be brought.
BC-SPCA officials, however, said earlier investigations at Howling Dog showed no evidence of abuse, cruelty or neglect, and that while they did order improvements in conditions for the sled dogs there, the company had complied with those orders.
(Top photo by Jeff Bassett / The Canadian Press; bottom photo by Eleanor Matthews)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 21st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bcspca, bob fawcett, bodies, british columbia, charges, claim, cull, culled, culling, death, dogs, dumped, howling dog, howling dog tours, investigation, killings, memorial, pets, post traumatic stress disorder, reburied, sentence, sentencing, service, shot, slashed, sled, sled dogs, spca, stabbed, whistler, whistler sled dogs, work
A year after 56 sled dogs were uncovered in a mass grave near Whistler, the British Columbia government has introduced a revised “code of practice” for the sled dog industry.
The Sled Dog Code of Practice sets standards for the care of dogs used for sledding, including new limits on tethering, and stricter regulations on the use of euthanasia, The Canadian Press reports.
But many believe the changes (see our comments below) don’t go nearly far enough.
The British Columbia SPCA uncovered 56 dead dogs last year, some of which had been shot, some with their throats cut. The mass grave came to light after an employee filed a worker’s compensation claim saying he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after killing the animals in a company-ordered cull.
“This document, both the code and the regulations, will help inform the industry (and) provide minimum standards that will improve working dogs’ welfare,” said Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations for the SPCA.
Moriarty, who helped develop the code, said it will lead to an end to near continuous tethering, which has been one of the main concerns about the industry. Under the new regulations sled dogs must get at least one opportunity a day to be off their tethers to socialize and exercise.
The new code imposes no limits on the number of dogs a sled dog operation can have, and it doesn’t stop sledding operations from culling their workers (dogs), but it emphasizes that killing sled dogs shouldn’t be used as a primary means of population control.
(Photo: British Columbia SPCA)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 22nd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, british columbia, canada, code, cull, dog sledding, dogs, euthanasia, grave, killed, mass, new, pets, regulations, sled dogs, spca, tethering, tethers, whistler
In yet another sign that the animal welfare movement is gaining its legs in China, public pressure has led officials of the city of Jiangmen to withdraw their plans to ban dogs in urban areas.
The decision saved the lives of thousands of animals.
City officials had issued a notice that — to prevent rabies and establish a “more civilized” city — they would ban dogs in three urban districts of Jiangmen. Residents of those areas were ordered to turn their dogs in, and those that didn’t faced having their dogs confiscated and euthanized.
The decision to drop the ban drew praise from the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
“Civilized cities don’t ban the ownership of man’s best friend. Killing dogs rightfully owned is an outright violation of basic citizens’ rights,” said Grace Ge Gabriel, IFAW Asia Regional Director, who is from China.
“Banning and killing dogs are ineffective solutions to preventing rabies, which has been successfully controlled in many parts of the world with education, vaccination and sterilization. We are pleased to see Jiangmen city officials back down from their knee-jerk decision yielding to public outcry.”
You can read more about the ban, and the overturning of it, on Gabriel’s blog.
Lacking national animal welfare legislation and rabies prevention mechanisms in China, local governments have previously resorted to mass dog culls in an effort to “prevent rabies” or to “clean up a city.”
But in Jiangmen, the order enraged many pet owners, who made their voices heard through the online forums, blogs and social networking sites in China.
“I am tremendously happy and proud to see that public uproar from within China stopped this unethical killing. In the past we were only able to stop some of the dog culls with international pressure,” said Gabriel.
“IFAW stands firm with the millions of animal caring people in China who desperately want to see the country to promulgate animal welfare legislation—the most effective way to ban the culling of companion animals, once and for all.”
The overturning of the ban is another sign that, as pet ownership grows in China and other Asian countries — including some where some members of the population still eat dogs — the animal welfare movement is been growing stronger.
Three months ago, more than 500 dogs being trucked to a slaughterhouse in China were freed from that fate when an animal activist spotted the truck transporting them on the highway, went on line and used social media to arrange an impromptu blockade.
Around 200 people helped block the truck at a toll booth for 15 hours, eventually negotiating the release of the dogs.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 5th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal rights, animal welfare, animals, asia, ban, china, chinese, city, cull, dog, dogs, grace gabriel, ifaw, international fund for animal welfare, jiangmen, pets, rabies
About 100 dogs were gunned down execution-style in British Columbia when a company that offers sled dog tours apparently decided that, due to a downturn in business, it could no longer afford to maintain them.
The shocking revelation of the mass killing (the industry prefers the term “culling”) surfaced through the British Columbia Worker’s Compensation Board, where a company employee filed a claim saying that killing the dogs, on April 21 and 23 of last year, caused him post-traumatic stress disorder.
The SPCA in British Columbia has launched an investigation into the incident.
“Culling” – or thinning the “herd” — is apparently not an uncommon practice among sled dog companies, according to the SPCA, either in the U.S. or Canada, where the sled dog tour industry is largely unregulated.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone engaged in the illegal killing of sled dogs in either country.
The 100 dogs – used in sled dog tours operated by Outdoor Adventures — were gunned downed while tethered. The employee, acting under the orders of his boss, began shooting dogs as other dogs watched. Some of the dogs panicked and attacked him as he carried out the task, he said.
“By the end he was covered in blood,” the workmen’s compensation review board noted in its Jan. 25 decision, which ruled the employee did develop PTSD in connection with the incident. “When he finished he cleared up the mess, filled in the mass grave and tried to bury the memories as deeply as he could.”
The full report from the board was obtained by The Vancouver Sun.
In addition to sparking an SPCA investigation into allegations of animal cruelty, the report has led to a suspension by Tourism Whistler of reservations for dog sledding excursions by Outdoor Adventures.
Outdoors Adventures, which also offers snowmobiling, snowshoeing and horseback excursions in the Whistler area, said in a statement that there are now no firearms on site and all future euthanizations will be done in a vet’s office.
Marcie Moriarty, head of the British Columbia SPCA cruelty investigations division, said the employee, who was the general manager of Outdoor Adventures, could and should have denied to carry out the orders from his boss.
The employee said he has suffered panic attacks and nightmares since the culling.
“I’ve no doubt he has suffered post traumatic stress but there’s a thing called choice,” said Moriarty. “I absolutely would not have done this and he could have said no … I don’t feel sorry for this guy for one minute.”
“The way this employee describes it — it’s a massacre absolutely … These dogs were killed in front of the other dogs that were all tethered up on the compound.”
The order to kill the sled dogs came after a veterinarian declined to euthanize healthy animals, and some attempts were made to adopt out the dogs, the employee told the review board.
SPCA officials say the incident sheds some needed light on the industry.
“There is a problem with the sled dog industry in general,” Moriarty said. “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.”
Posted by jwoestendiek February 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 100 sled dogs, adventures, animal legal defense fund, british columbia, chained, cull, culled, culling, dogs, gun, investigation, kill, killed, killing, mush, mushing, outdoor, outdoor adventures, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, shot, sled dogs, spca, tethered, tourism, vancouver, whistler, workmens compensation
Imagine authorities knocking on your door — well, we’d hope they’d knock — and informing you that owning more than one dog is against the law, and to choose which one you’d like to keep.
In another two weeks, that will be the situation in Guangzhou, as it already is in Beijing.
Beginning July 1, each household can raise only one dog. The regulation won’t be grandfathered in, so families with two or more dogs will apparently have to decide which one gets to stay, according to an Associated Press report.
“It’s a cruel regulation. These dogs are like family. How can you keep one and get rid of the others?” one owner of two dogs — a terrier mix and a Pekingnese — told the Associated Press. She declined to give her full name because she feared the police would track her down and seize the dogs.
The regulation appears to be part of an effort to control stray dogs in Guangzhou, a city of 12 million that was once known as Canton. It’s one of the richest cities in China.
Many of those getting pets are first-time pet owners, don’t bother to spay or neuter their animals and end up abandoning them, leading to a large population of strays in Guangzhou, which is preparing to host the Asian Games next year.
People were quick to react to the regulation when it was announced in March, said Mao Mao, who six years ago founded a shelter for stray dogs called Family of the Pet. She said that before March, she would receive only a few calls a month from dog owners who wanted to give up pets. “Since March, every day we get about 10 calls a day,” said the woman, who takes in only strays and advises pet owners how to find new homes for their animals.
“I’m afraid there are going to be many more stray dogs in July when the one-dog regulation becomes effective,” she said.
Many other Chinese cities, including Beijing, have long had one-dog policies. Officials commonly launch mass roundups of dogs when the canine population is deemed too big or infected with rabies and other diseases. In 2006, Beijing authorities caught 29,000 unregistered dogs in one month — a campaign that sparked public anger and protest.
In the city of Hanzhong, in China’s central Shaanxi province, all dogs found outside homes in areas hit by a rabies outbreak are not being “culled” by ”dog-beating teams” who canvass the area and beat dogs to death on the spot — even those registered by their owners, according to a report in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.
The cull, which began May 23, is one of the largest in recent years, and has led to some outrage, most of it expressed in anonymous online discussions.
Meanwhile, back in Guangzhou, dog owners aren’t sure if the one-dog policy will be strictly enforced. Often Chinese authorities announce a tough new law, launch a crackdown, then ignore the measure.
(Photos: Scenes from Hanzhong, where dog culling is underway, and leading to demonstrations; courtesy of animalsasia.org)
Baghdad authorities killed more than 200 stray dogs on Sunday, the opening day of a campaign to cull dog packs roaming the capital city.
The campaign was prompted by a spate of fatal attacks on residents.
Three teams of veterinarians and police officers used poisoned meat and rifles to kill the animals, according to the Associated Press.
Dr. Hassan Chaloub, an official at the veterinary hospital supervising the effort confirmed that the campaign started Sunday in wester Baghdad and will move to the eastern half of the city early next year. He said the capital has no dog shelters.
Thirteen people died in August in the capital after being attacked by dogs, according to Baghdad’s provincial council, which is overseeing the campaign.
Under Saddam Hussein, authorities killed stray dogs in the capital almost every year, but the practice ended with his ouster in 2003. Since then, local officials estimate, the number of strays in Baghdad has grown to more than a thousand.