After the horrific sled dog slaughter in Whistler, B.C., the investigating task force is looking into revising animal cruelty laws to prevent atrocities like this from happening again. Discover what else they plan to do to help animals here. — Global Animal
Postmedia News, Sam Cooper
VANCOUVER — The task force reviewing the slaughter of 100 sled dogs in Whistler, B.C. will set guidelines against “culling” sled dogs and may revise animal cruelty laws to enforce new industry standards.
Meanwhile, the criminal probe of the post-Olympic dog-slaughter is currently on ice, as B.C. SPCA and RCMP investigators cool their heels waiting to exhume dog carcasses buried under metres of snow in a mass grave near Whistler.
Kamloops Liberal member of provincial legislature Dr. Terry Lake, tasked by former premier Gordon Campbell to head up the review, said his report, due March 25, will be limited to animal protection legislation and sled dog industry standards.
Lake will not investigate the actions surrounding Outdoor Adventures employee Bob Fawcett, who won compensation from WorkSafe B.C. after claiming he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder due to being forced to slaughter about 100 dogs over several days in April 2010.
Lake said the task force was forced to stand down on the investigative part of the review, rather than interfere with the RCMP and B.C. SPCA criminal investigation.
Lake said his task force will set “best practices” guidelines calling for “retirement and rehoming plans” for sled dogs.
“I don’t like the word cull,” Lake said. “I think that means you are killing a bunch of animals you don’t need. I think that is unacceptable and our recommendations will reflect that.”
Euthanization of sled dogs in the industry could become a thing of the past, Lake said.
“These animals can be rehomed if they are well socialized and put in a suitable placement, where they’re able to run and have their needs met.”
The task force, which includes the B.C. SPCA, has discussed toughening animal protection laws, Lake said.
Lake added that from what he is hearing in the dogsledding world, post-2010 Games business decisions were not connected to the massive herd reduction involving Outdoor Adventures, but “I’ve heard from people it was more (about) competition in the industry.”
Outdoor Adventures has now instituted dog-care standards which make them industry leaders, Lake noted.
Whistler RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve Leclair said up to 20 interviews including “all principals” have been completed in the criminal investigation, but there is no way charges can be recommended or ruled out before a mass grave is exhumed.