The B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is recommending a criminal charge in connection with the killing of 56 of sled dogs near Whistler last year.

The dogs were allegedly killed over a two-day period in April 2010, according to details contained in a claim to WorkSafeBC, the provincial workers' compensation board.

Bob Fawcett, an employee of a sled dog tour operator, had sought compensation for post-traumatic stress after, he said, his employer ordered him to kill 100 of the animals.

Outdoor Adventures Whistler issued a press release earlier this year saying an employee of a company called Howling Dogs was compensated for post-traumatic stress after shooting the dogs.

The company said it had a financial stake in Howling Dogs at the time of the cull, but didn't take operational control until May 2010.

"OAW was aware of the relocation and euthanization of dogs at Howling Dogs in April 2010, but it was our expectation that it was done in a proper, legal and humane manner," the release said.

si-bc-sled-dog-cp-00459186

Sled dogs pull tourists during a tour run by Outdoor Adventures Whistler on Jan. 31. ((Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press))

Marcie Moriarty, head of cruelty investigations at the B.C. SPCA, said her organization is recommending that Crown lawyers charge Fawcett with causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal.

"Under the criminal code, the maximum penalty this individual could receive is five years in jail," Moriarty said.

"In addition, [he] can receive a lifetime ban on owning animals and a significant fine."

Moriarty said the investigation was one of the most complex and expensive ever undertaken by the B.C. SPCA.

In May, the bodies of many of the dogs where exhumed from a mass grave. The B.C. SPCA hired a team of internationally recognized forensic experts with experience in the Robert Pickton pig farm murders as well as with mass graves in Rwanda, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Moriarty said the final price tag was $250,000, but many experts also volunteered their time.

In April, a B.C. government task force into the sled dog industry made 10 recommendations to toughen animal cruelty laws following the alleged slaughter of sled dogs.

With files from the CBC's Ben Hadaway