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
The Walt Disney movie, “101 Dalmatians,” led to a pretty well-documented surge in their popularity, followed by a surge in members of the breed being dropped off at shelters and rescues.
When it comes to the musical version of “101 Dalmatians,” though, some abandoned dalmatians actually got rescued — sprung to take part in the play’s final production number.
The cast of the musical “101 Dalmatians,” includes 15 dalmatians, most of whom were procured at shelters by Florida animal trainer Joel Slaven oversees, according to the Los Angeles Time’s Unleashed blog.
The musical, which begins its national tour this month in Minneapolis, ends with a three-minute finale — a song written by Dennis DeYoung, a founding member of the band Styx — in which only dogs are on the stage. It’s the only time actual dogs appear in the play, in which humans play the roles of dogs.
Slaven said dalmatians were overbred to meet public demand for the breed after the Disney movie. As a result, the breed, health and behavior problems among them grew more prevalent. “People got the dogs, couldn’t afford vet bills, found the dogs untrainable, or didn’t get along with kids,” he said.
Slaven said he chose high spirited dogs, less likely to be adopted dogs for the performance. “These are the outgoing, playful, confident dogs — the dogs that aren’t going to be happy laying on someone’s couch each day,” he said. “They’re the ones chewing and barking because they want to be doing something.”
Slaven hopes to find permanent owners for the dogs at the end of the tour, slated to run through at least June 2010. If any don’t end up with homes, he says he’ll bring them back to his ranch.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 12th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 101, breed, dalmatians, disney, dogs, entertainment, media, movie, musical, pets, play, popularity, rescue, shelters, tour, touring
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the whimsical musical that opened at Baltimore’s Hippodrome this week, features eight dogs in the cast — all owned, in real life, by a former circus performer who turns abandoned dogs into show biz dogs.
Joanne Wilson is the trainer, handler and owner of Samantha (who stars as Edison in the play) and the other seven dogs with supporting roles.
The musical, which runs through Jan. 18, focuses on a whimsical family of inventors trying to harness the powers of a magical car. That has little to do with dogs, admits Ray Roderick, the director who adapted the Broadway show into the touring production, but he decided to include them as an homage to the 1968 movie, which was peppered with pooches.
“Everyone says never work with children or dogs,” Roderick told the Baltimore Sun. “Clearly, I disagree.”
In the show, the pack of dogs bursts onto the stage and sprints across it at full speed, controlled by a hot dog that Wilson is holding offstage.
Wilson, a longtime animal trainer, began rescuing dogs from the streets after leaving the circus, which led her and her sister to establishing Wonder Dogs, a program that rescues dogs from shelters and turns them into show dogs.
Any dog that can no longer perform remains with the Wilson sisters after retirement, their website says.
The canine cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang includes Buddy, a rat terrier; Penny, a a Pomeranian, as well as Lucky, Bear, Cory, Percy and Sugar.
Wilson and her husband follow the show from town to town in their dog-filled van — including the eight dogs in the show, five more of Wilson’s other dogs and another that belongs to a cast member.
(Image from wilsondogs.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 9th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: baltimore, chitty chitty bang bang, dogs, hippodrome, joanne wilson, performance, performing, play, production, samantha, touring, wilson dogs, wonder dogs