The BC SPCA submitted its report to Crown Counsel last week and is recommending animal cruelty charges under the criminal code after concluding its investigation into the deaths dozens of sled dogs.
“This was without a doubt, the most challenging case we have ever encountered because of the expertise required, the forensic science involved, the technical aspect of putting together the evidence and the attention this case drew from the public,” says Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations.
The intensive months-long investigation began in January 2011 after a WorkSafe report was leaked to the media in connection with the alleged killing and dumping of approximately 100 sled dogs near Whistler, B.C. in April 2010. In addition to the ongoing BC SPCA investigation, the provincial government appointed a special task force that resulted in changes to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Moriarty expects it may take some time for Crown to review the thousands of pages in the report and make a final decision on charges.
“I know the constables involved feel proud of the work that was done in ensuring that there will be justice for these dogs,” says Moriarty. “We are also confident that the work done through this investigation will significantly impact the welfare of other working dogs in this province.”
Each year, the BC SPCA conducts more than 7,000 animal cruelty investigations. Your gift can help rescue an injured or neglected animal and bring abusers to justice. Please donate today.
June 10, 2011 update
The BC SPCA investigation continues into the alleged inhumane killing of sled dogs last April.
Evidence is being gathered from the bodies of more than 56 dogs exhumed from a mass grave near Whistler. Charges of animal cruelty could be recommended as early as September, but it will be up to Crown Counsel to pursue the matter in court.
The remains of the dogs are being treated with the utmost respect and dignity and the BC SPCA will ensure a proper burial for the animals.
May 11, 2011 update
The province introduced proposed changes to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in the legislature today to better protect animals from suffering and abuse. The proposed amendments were developed on the recommendation of the government sled dog task force. Read the full news story.
The cruelty investigation continues. All findings in the investigation will be forwarded to Crown counsel for a decision on charges of animal cruelty.
May 10, 2011 update
BC SPCA special constables have concluded the exhumation phase of the investigation into the alleged inhumane killing of sled dogs near Whistler.
In January 2011, a WorkSafe report was leaked to the media stating that between 70 to 100 had been killed and dumped in a mass grave in April 2010. In its investigation of the allegations, the BC SPCA discovered the bodies of 56 dogs in the mass grave. The SPCA will forward all findings in the investigation, including the forensic evidence collected from the mass grave, to Crown counsel for a decision on charges of animal cruelty.
In addition to fully investigating the allegations of animal cruelty, the BC SPCA is currently assisting the provincial government in the creation of new standards of care for sled dog operators in B.C.
May 8, 2011 update
A team of BC SPCA constables, veterinarians and forensic scientists has nearly completed the gruesome task of exhuming a mass grave of sled dogs near Whistler, B.C. The evidence gathered at the site was a critical component in an SPCA investigation into allegations that up to 100 dogs, owned by a local sled dog operator, were inhumanely killed in April of 2010 and dumped into a mass grave. A WorkSafe document, leaked to the media in January, 2011, graphically describes how the dogs were allegedly killed.
Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations for the BC SPCA, says 52 deceased dogs have been retrieved from the mass grave so far and that the exhumation of bodies should be complete within two days. “Some people have questioned why it was necessary to exhume the grave,” says Morarity. “I want to be clear that we would not have taken this step had it not been absolutely essential for the investigation. Our legal system requires proof of allegations, and in this case, the forensic evidence was a key component. The investigations team did an extraordinary job of collecting evidence that, we believe, will move the case forward to Crown counsel.” Forensic veterinarians conducted initial onsite examinations and x-rays of the bodies and the evidence collected and documented from the mass grave will now be sent to Lower Mainland laboratories for further processing. It will likely take several weeks before the necropsies and processing of all the evidence are complete.
Moriarty says the BC SPCA is grateful to the team of forensic scientists, veterinarians and animal cruelty specialists who came forward to assist in the case. “Whether you are determining forensic evidence for humans or animals, the science remains the same and we could not have carried out this investigation without our team of forensic experts, many of whom approached us to volunteer for the operation.”
Moriarty says that while the scope of the sled dog investigation is significant, to ignore such disturbing allegations was not an option. “We are a charity and as such, we have to steward our resources very carefully,” she says. “But we are also an enforcement agency with a mandate and a responsibility to respond to each and every complaint of animal cruelty that we receive. It was our duty to carry out a proper investigation into these allegations, as we would with any other case.” She says this case has far-reaching implications for working animals in B.C. and across Canada.
“This investigation is about uncovering the facts in a particular case of alleged animal cruelty that shocked people around the world,” says Moriarty. “But it is also about ensuring that all sled dogs and other working animals are protected from suffering and abuse. Only by fully investigating these allegations can we send a clear message that we are a humane society where brutality and violence against animals will not be tolerated.” She notes that the forensic evidence gathered in the investigation revealed new information that she believes will be valuable in creating the new standards of care currently being developed for sled dogs in B.C. “While we can’t discuss the specific evidence at this point in the investigation, we can disclose that new information has come to light through the exhumation of the bodies in the mass grave that has significant implications for the future welfare of sled dogs across Canada.”
Moriarty says the BC SPCA is handling the remains of the dogs with the utmost respect and dignity and will ensure a proper burial for the animals. In the meantime, she says, the SPCA will honour the memory of the dogs by putting its full effort into the investigation into their deaths. “By uncovering the truth we believe justice will be served and these dogs will finally be able to rest in peace.”
Photo caption: BC SPCA constables exhume the bodies of sled dogs from a mass grave near Whistler, B.C.
May 3, 2011 update
A message from BC SPCA CEO Craig Daniell
As the BC SPCA continues its investigation into the case of the 100 Whistler-area sled dogs who were allegedly slaughtered last April, we have been fielding some questions on why the exhumation of the mass grave is necessary.
The scope of this investigation is unprecedented in North America, and as you can appreciate, it will place a strain on our resources. But we must take clear action in a case of this magnitude and brutality – we owe it to the innocent dogs buried in that grave to ensure that this kind of tragic incident never happens again in British Columbia.
Industries that exploit animals for profit must be sent a clear message: such cruelty to animals will not be tolerated in our province.
The need for evidence is at the root of our criminal justice system. The forensic evidence we are seeking this week is a critical piece of the legal proof needed to proceed with charges in the case. While the resources required to carry out this investigation are significant, we would not be exhuming the grave and each of the bodies if the evidence was not needed for the case. We simply cannot, and will not, abdicate our responsibility to investigate this disturbing tragedy, but we assure you that we are carefully monitoring costs in the case to ensure that every dollar spent seeking justice for these animals is necessary.
While we cannot control the outcome of this case, the BC SPCA will work tirelessly to ensure that every avenue of investigation is pursued and every piece of evidence is presented to Crown counsel. If we do not stand up – and speak up – for those who cannot speak for themselves, we will continue to see animals exploited for profit and then brutally discarded when they are no longer “useful”. This case is critical, not only for the lives of the innocent animals who have died, but to ensure that other working animals in Canada do not face a similar fate.
The BC SPCA conducts nearly 7,000 cruelty investigations a year and is reliant on donations from the public to continue its work. Your gift can help support investigations and bring abusers to justice. Please donate today.
Photo caption: BC SPCA constables assess mass grave of sled dogs under piles of hay and debris.
May 1, 2011 update
BC SPCA constables, along with an expert team of forensic scientists, anthropologists and veterinarians, will begin exhuming the mass grave of 100 Whistler-area sled dogs this week in the second phase of the BC SPCA animal cruelty investigation into the case.
The dogs were allegedly slaughtered in April 2010, but news of the killings only came to light in January 2011 after a WorkSafe document outlining the event was leaked to the media and brought to the attention of the BC SPCA. BC SPCA investigators, led by BC SPCA senior animal protection officer Eileen Drever, had to wait until the frozen ground thawed before exhuming the bodies for forensic evidence.
“This is one of the largest and most complex investigations the BC SPCA has ever undertaken,” says Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigation for the BC SPCA. “Because of the length of time that has passed since the incident occurred, it is necessary to employ painstaking, state-of-the-art forensic techniques to gather the evidence needed to pursue animal cruelty charges in the case.” It is estimated that the cost of the investigation could reach more than $225,000.
Assisting the BC SPCA in the investigation is a team of internationally recognized forensic experts from across North America. The team includes forensic veterinarian Dr. Melinda Merck; entomologist Dr. Gail Anderson; forensic archaeologists Dr. Douglas Scott and Dr. Alvaro Higueras; and forensic anthropologists Dr. William Haglund, Dr. Ana Boza, Prof. Sabine Stratton, and Dr. Lynne Bell.
Their combined expertise includes experience in the forensic investigations of the Robert Pickton case; the Stephen Truscott case; the identification of the Green River serial murder victims; the Kwaday Dän Ts’inchí research project; re-examination of the Little Bighorn battlefield, and the Hinton Via Rail Train disaster.
Members of the team have completed forensic assessments and investigations of mass graves in numerous countries, including Guatemala, Honduras, Rwanda, Somaliland, Georgia/Abkhazia, the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Kosovo), Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. They have worked for organizations such as Physicians For Human Rights and the International Commission for Missing Persons.
“We are extremely fortunate to be working with such an experienced team, many of whom have been involved in large-scale, high-profile forensic investigations involving both human and animal remains,” says Moriarty. She adds that due to the labour-intensive procedures involved in gathering and processing evidence for each of the bodies, every constable in the society’s 26-member cruelty investigations department will be involved in the operation at various points in addition to the forensic team and assisting veterinarians.
The location of the mass grave has been secured to protect the integrity of the crime scene and only those involved in the investigation will be allowed access on the site. Prior to the actual excavation, expected to take place on May 5, a team of BC SPCA constables, archaeologists and anthropologists will clear debris that has been piled on top of the grave. The debris will be carefully screened for evidence as the site is cleared. Investigators will then create a precise measurement of the gravesite using lasers, probes, GPS and trench testing to determine dimensions.
On May 5, excavation of the site will begin with removal of the top two inches of soil by an excavator. Once a grid has been set out teams will dig through each section of the grave by hand, and all evidence will be photographed, identified and any bodies or body parts will be taken to an onsite triage station where they will be examined and x-rayed by forensic veterinarians to determine their forensic value.
The exhumation of the gravesite is expected to take three to four days. The remains of the sled dogs will be refrigerated and transported off-site for necropsies. Once evidence from the mass grave has been processed and analysed, findings will be used by the BC SPCA to prepare its report for Crown counsel. “This process will take time but we want to ensure that every relevant piece of evidence is presented to Crown with respect to animal cruelty charges in this case,” says Moriarty.
Photo caption: Stock photo shows Husky sled dogs enjoying a good run (top). Debris and snow piled atop the mass grave. BC SPCA Constables had to wait until the frozen ground thawed before exhuming the bodies for forensic evidence. (top left). BC SPCA Constables assess mass grave of sled dogs – gravesite is under piles of hay and debris (middle left, middle right and bottom).
April 18, 2011 update
The first phase of the BC SPCA investigation into the sled dog killings near Whistler is now complete. The investigations team plans to exhume the bodies of the slaughtered animals for forensic evidence as soon as the ground has thawed sufficiently.
April 5, 2011 update
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) is urging the provincial government to act quickly on key recommendations outlined in the report of the Sled Dog Task Force, released today in Vancouver.
“The report contains strong recommendations which we believe will help prevent another tragedy like the devastating slaughter of the 100 Whistler-area sled dogs in April 2010,” said Craig Daniell, chief executive officer for the non-profit animal welfare society. While the BC SPCA supports all the recommendations in the report, Daniell said the society is particularly pleased with three key recommendations, including a call for the creation for a mandatory sled dog “standard of care” for B.C.
“It would be a huge step forward to have a code of practice that sets out clear standards for the care of sled dogs, including housing, food, water, exercise, socialization, “retirement” plans for dogs no longer needed by an operator and acceptable forms of euthanasia,” said Daniell. “A mandatory standard of care would also be an important enforcement tool when our special constables are called out to inspect sled dog operations and in recommending animal cruelty charges.”
While recommendation #3 in the report specifically calls for the creation of a standard of care for sled dogs, Daniel notes that the report, which proposes that “the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act be amended to create a regulatory authority to define standards of care for animals”, also opens the door to codes of practices for other types of animal-related operations in B.C. “This authority could be used to stop other kinds of animal suffering, such as helping to eradicate puppy mills and unscrupulous breeding operations, for instance.”
Marcie Moriarty, general manger of cruelty investigations for the BC SPCA said the society is also extremely pleased with recommendation #7, that the province “enhance the capacity of the BC SPCA to undertake cruelty investigations”. “Without a doubt we need more constables and funding,” she said. “Currently we have 26 full-time constables for the entire province and all of our funding for cruelty investigations comes from community donations. We carried out a record 7,147 cruelty investigations last year but there are so many more animals out there we don’t have the resources to reach. We look forward to working with the provincial government to find ways to enhance the enforcement of animal cruelty laws.” Moriarty says she hopes the government will review funding models from other provinces, where the SPCA receives significant support for cruelty investigations.
She notes that the cost of the BC SPCA investigation currently under way into the slaughter of the 100 Whistler-area sled dogs could be as high as $200,000. “Enforcement of animal cruelty laws, and the subsequent care of the thousands of injured and abused animals the BC SPCA seizes each year requires significant resources.”
Moriarty says it is clear from the international outrage expressed over the slaughter of the sled dogs that the public has high expectations for animal protection in B.C. “When the story about this terrible tragedy broke in January we received thousands of telephone calls and emails from people supporting our mission work of animal protection,” said Moriarty. “The task force report also acknowledges the overwhelming feedback the government has received on this issue. There is a clear public mandate here, a strong message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated in our province.”
Moriarty adds that the third recommendation of particular significance to the BC SPCA is recommendation #8, calling on the Ministry of Attorney General “to build upon existing prosecutorial expertise… to successfully pursue cases of animal abuse…”. “This is an issue we have championed for several years,” she said. “Having additional specialized Crown counsel to deal with animal cruelty cases is a crucial factor in achieving more consistent and effective charges and convictions against those who inflict harm and suffering on animals.”
Note: The first phase of the BC SPCA investigation into the sled dog killings near Whistler is now complete. The investigations team plans to exhume the bodies of the slaughtered animals for forensic evidence as soon as the ground has thawed sufficiently.
Photo caption: BC SPCA CEO Craig Daniell highlights key recommendations in the Sled Dog Task Report released today. B.C. Premier Cristy Clark also announced a $100,000 grant to fund the not-for-profit society.
March 29, 2011 update
The report, expected to be released last Friday, by the government inquiry looking into the slaughter of 100 sled dogs in Whistler last year has yet to be released to the public. The RCMP and BC SPCA cruelty investigation continues and charges of animal cruelty are pending.
March 24, 2011 update
The government task-force assigned to look into the slaughter of 100 sled dogs in Whistler is scheduled to submit a report to B.C. Minister of Agriculture Don McRae tomorrow. The RCMP and BC SPCA cruelty investigation continues and charges of animal cruelty are pending.
March 3, 2011 update
The BC SPCA has learned that the government appointed task-force is confident they will meet the 45-day deadline to submit a report related to the slaughter of 100 sled dogs in Whistler. The head of the inquiry, Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake, announced interviews will not be held with Bob Fawcett or Outdoor Adventures company owners due to the ongoing criminal investigation by the RCMP and the BC SPCA. The RCMP and BC SPCA cruelty investigation continues and charges of animal cruelty are pending.
February 11, 2011 update
The BC SPCA would like to thank the thousands of concerned individuals who have contacted us expressing their deep concern over the horrific slaughter of 100 sled dogs in Whistler. It is heartening to know that there are so many people who share our shock over this distressing incident and who join us in our fight against animal cruelty.
We regret that, due to the overwhelming volume of calls and emails, we cannot respond personally to each person but we have outlined answers to many of the frequently asked questions we have received in order to share this information as widely as possible. We will continue to post updates on our website as new developments occur.
What is the BC SPCA’s involvement in the Whistler investigation?
The BC SPCA is the only animal welfare organization in the province with the mandate and authority to respond to complaints of animal cruelty. Our 25 special constables carry out 7,000 cruelty investigations each year and we are currently working with the RCMP to investigate the case of the 100 dogs killed in Whistler. We are gathering evidence as quickly as possible and will be filing a report with Crown counsel regarding charges of animal cruelty against the individuals responsible.
What is happening with the remaining dogs on the site?
BC SPCA constables have inspected the site and have confirmed that the owners are meeting the care and welfare needs of the remaining dogs. As a result of SPCA orders that have been issued in the past the animals are now housed in pens rather than on chains, are grouped together for socialization and are receiving regular veterinary care.
We have received many questions about why the BC SPCA cannot seize the remaining animals or shut down the operation. While we completely empathize with the heartfelt concerns expressed for the dogs, the BC SPCA is legally required to give any animal owner the opportunity to respond to orders to improve the welfare of their animals. If the owner complies with the orders and the animals’ care and welfare needs are being met the BC SPCA has no legal grounds to seek a warrant to remove the animals. With regard to shutting down the tour operator, the BC SPCA’s powers under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act enable the BC SPCA to take animals into custody if orders are not complied with, but do not include the power to close a business operation.
Was the BC SPCA approached to help rehome any of the dogs who were later slaughtered?
No, the BC SPCA was not approached to help rehome any of these animals. The BC SPCA met with the tour operator on May 28, 2010 – more than one month after the cull. This meeting was called to discuss ways to improve welfare for the animals, but there was no request for assistance in rehoming animals and details of the April 21st and 23rd slaughter were not disclosed to the SPCA.
When did the BC SPCA first learn of the slaughter of the dogs?
The BC SPCA first learned of the incident on Jan. 28, 2011 after receiving a copy of a WorkSafeBC report from CKNW Radio, which outlined details of the killings by an employee who was being granted compensation for post traumatic stress disorder. A cruelty investigation was immediately launched in the case.
Did the tour operator approach the BC SPCA to try to adopt dogs following this meeting on May 28?
Yes, the tour operator approached the BC SPCA in July 2010 about whether or not the SPCA would be able to take any dogs in the future, but did not indicate any urgency in the request. As a charity with very limited resources, the society did not have the capacity to assist at that time. The BC SPCA has seized and cared for a significant number of sled dogs in recent years and understands the immense commitment of financial and rehabilitation resources that are required to provide the necessary care and welfare for these animals. Two months later, in September 2010, the BC SPCA was again approached about rehoming some of the operator’s dogs and was in a better position to help. We offered to take 40-60 dogs to try to find homes for them. The tour operator subsequently informed the SPCA that he had moved the dogs to other kennels and did not need assistance.
Are any of the Whistler dogs currently available for adoption?
At this time the BC SPCA is unaware of any intention by the owner of the dogs to adopt or sell any of the remaining animals.
What is the BC SPCA responsibility in rehoming animals no longer wanted by sled dog tour operators?
We have received some comments that it was the SPCA’s “job” to take all the animals the tour operator wanted to dispose of.
The BC SPCA provides care, sheltering, veterinary care and rehabilitation for nearly 34,000 animals each year – our shelters and foster homes are overflowing with animals whose owners can’t – or won’t – accept responsibility for them.
We take our care of any animal in need extremely seriously – this is our mission and our passion and we use every resource available to us to help as many animals as possible.
However if we are ever to achieve an end to animal cruelty and neglect in our communities it is critical that the SPCA and other rescue groups not be viewed as a dumping ground for owners who simply abdicate their responsibility to the animals they have brought into their lives – as pets or as commodities to make money. If a sled dog company purchases or breeds hundreds of dogs to maximize their profits they should also be responsible for developing a lifelong welfare plan for these animals that includes ongoing care and welfare and “retirement” arrangements for the dogs who are no longer used by their operation.
The sad reality – and one of the reasons that the BC SPCA has long expressed concerns about the sled dog industry – is that dogs are regularly euthanized when they have outlived their economic usefulness to the operator. This practice is distressing to the SPCA, even when it is done in a humane manner.
What are the next steps?
The BC SPCA’s cruelty investigation into this case continues and charges of animal cruelty are pending. In addition, the BC SPCA has been asked to sit on a task force announced by Premier Gordon Campbell on Feb. 3, 2011 to look into provincial regulations for the sled dog industry. We will be urging the government to take steps to ensure that if sled dog companies are allowed to operate they be held accountable for the lifelong care and welfare of the animals they use for economic gain.
How can the public help?
If you would like to join us in the fight against animal cruelty, there are a number of ways in which you can help to bring about change:
1. Contact your local MLA to express your strong support for significant funding for animal cruelty investigations. The BC SPCA currently spends more than $2.2 million a year investigating more than 7,000 complaints of animal cruelty and neglect. Despite this annual investment, we simply do not have enough officers in the field. We receive no provincial government funding for this work and must raise all funds for our cruelty investigations and other animal protection work through donations.
2. Contact all the candidates in the provincial leadership race to express your support for specialized Crown counsel for animal cruelty cases and significant funding for the work of the BC SPCA.
3. Contact your local MP and ask them to ensure the swift passage of legislation that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of animals across Canada. Although penalties for animal cruelty were recently increased, Canada’s federal animal cruelty laws have seen no significant improvement in more than 100 years.
4. Make a donation to help animals in need online, through your local SPCA branch (donations designated to a particular shelter or to the cruelty investigations department can also be sent by mail to 1245 East 7th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C., V5T 1R1). Your support saves lives and enables us to provide emergency rescue and care for nearly 34,000 animals each year. The work of the BC SPCA would not be possible without our caring and compassionate supporters.
February 4, 2011 update
On behalf of the BC SPCA, I would like to make it clear to our supporters and to the public that the suggestion in the Vancouver Sun story published today (Feb. 2) that the BC SPCA had prior knowledge about the slaughter of the 100 sled dogs in Whistler is 100 per cent false.
It is deeply distressing to our organization that anyone would imply we had knowledge of, or could have prevented, the devastating killings carried out by Outdoor Adventures Whistler on April 21 and 23, 2010.
Below is a timeline of the BC SPCA’s contact with the company:
May 28, 2010 – The BC SPCA met with the tour operator at the company’s request. The BC SPCA was contacted by an employee of the company to resolve some issues that had arisen as a result of infighting within the management of the company. At this meeting the BC SPCA outlined care guidelines required for the animals. No request for assistance in rehoming dogs was made at this meeting.
At this meeting the BC SPCA was unaware of the slaughter which took place on April 21 and 23 and only learned of the situation when the society received a copy of the WorkSafeBC report on Jan. 28, 2011.
July, 2010 – An employee of the company contacted the BC SPCA by email with concerns about the care of the dogs. An SPCA constable followed up with the owner of the company with regard to the complaint.
July, 2010 – The tour operator contacted the BC SPCA and other rescue organizations to indicate they may be looking to dispose of dogs to other groups in the future. The BC SPCA was dealing with an overwhelming number of animals in our shelters and was not able to help immediately but continued discussions.
September, 2010 – The BC SPCA was able to assist with rehoming at this time and arranges to take 40-60 dogs into SPCA care. The BC SPCA made arrangements to transport the dogs on Oct. 14, but on the evening of Oct. 13 the company contacted the SPCA to say they had managed to rehome the dogs elsewhere and would not need assistance.
January 28, 2011 – CKNW News contacted the BC SPCA with a copy of the WorkSafeBC report outlining the slaughter of 100 sled dogs. An animal cruelty investigation was immediately launched.
We are deeply disappointed in the Vancouver Sun story. The BC SPCA contacted Ms. Pemberton before the story was published to ensure that she was aware of the timeline of events and reiterated that the BC SPCA had no prior knowledge of the inhumane slaughter of these animals.
We appreciate the opportunity to clarify these facts with our supporters and all those who join us in the fight against animal cruelty. The BC SPCA investigation into this horrific incident continues and charges of animal cruelty are pending.
Chief Executive Officer
February 2, 2011 update
The BC SPCA has received hundreds of calls and emails in response to the horrific case involving the slaughter of 100 sled dogs in Whistler.
As widely reported, the BC SPCA has launched a formal investigation into the incident. Over the course of the next few weeks, BC SPCA special provincial constables will gather the necessary evidence and will prepare a report to Crown counsel with respect to charges of animal cruelty in the case. I ask for the public’s patience to allow our animal protection officers the necessary time to complete their task.
In the weeks that follow, the BC SPCA will also be conducting a thorough review of the apparent lack of regulation in the sled dog industry and will forward its recommendations to the provincial government in due course.
I have been assured by the Minister of Agriculture, Ben Stewart, that the provincial government will consider any recommendations made by the BC SPCA.
The BC SPCA appreciates the overwhelming concern and support for animals that has been expressed by members of the public following media reports on the Whistler investigation and we apologize that, due to the sheer volume of calls and our limited resources, we are not able to respond to each one of you individually.
The common theme in all these calls and emails is a desire to bring about meaningful change that will ensure this tragic incident never happens again.
There are a number of ways in which individuals can help to bring about change:
1. Contact your local MLA to express your strong support for significant funding for animal cruelty investigations. The BC SPCA currently spends more than $2.2 million a year investigating more 6,000 complaints of animal cruelty and neglect. Despite this annual investment, we simply do not have enough officers in the field. We receive no provincial government funding for this work and must raise all funds for our cruelty investigations and other animal protection work through donations.
2. Contact all the candidates in the provincial leadership race to express your support for strong animal cruelty laws and significant funding for the work of the BC SPCA.
3. Contact your local MP and ask them to ensure the swift passage of legislation that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of animals across Canada. Although penalties for animal cruelty were recently increased, Canada’s federal animal cruelty laws have seen no significant improvement in more than 100 years.
4. Make a donation to help animals in need. Your support saves lives and enables us to provide emergency rescue and care for nearly 34,000 animals each year. The work of the BC SPCA would not be possible without our caring and compassionate supporters.
Chief Executive Officer
January 31, 2011
The BC SPCA has launched a cruelty investigation into the slaughter of 100 dogs owned by a B.C. sled-dog tour operator Outdoor Adventures Whistler.
The dogs were killed over a two-day period in April 2010 after a post-Olympic downturn in tour bookings. The BC SPCA launched the investigation immediately after learning of the killings on Jan. 28 through a WorkSafeBC document which outlines compensation granted to an employee of the company who developed post traumatic stress disorder after killing the dogs.
Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations for the BC SPCA, says she was sickened by the details of the slaughter documented in the WorkSafeBC report. “The sheer terror and agony these dogs must have suffered is horrifying. This is the most disturbing case I have seen in my six years in cruelty investigations.” The BC SPCA in the only animal welfare organization in B.C. with the mandate and authority to investigate complaints of animal cruelty. The investigation into the Whistler case continues and charges of animal cruelty are pending in the case.