British Columbia

Sled dog slaughter prompts B.C. task force

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell has ordered the creation of a task force to investigate the killing of 100 sled dogs in Whistler.

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell has ordered the creation of a task force to investigate the killing of 100 sled dogs in Whistler.

The task force will be led by Liberal MLA Terry Lake, who is a veterinarian, and will include representation from the B.C. SPCA and the Union of B.C. Municipalities, Campbell said in a release Wednesday.

"The tragic and disturbing details that have emerged around how these dogs were inhumanely treated are not acceptable to British Columbians or to their government," said Campbell. "No creature should ever have to suffer in the manner that has been reported, and we want to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again in our province."

The dogs were owned by Howling Dog Tours, and revelations surfaced this week that they were shot last April and dumped in a mass grave.

The B.C. SPCA is investigating the slaughter and said Monday it likely would recommend charges to the Crown prosecutor.

Evidence gathering has been an issue, with the animals' mass grave located in frozen ground and under deep snow in the Whistler area, about 100 kilometres north of Vancouver.

Business drop prompted killings

The animals were shot after bookings for dog sledding dried up following the 2010 Olympic Games and the company had more dogs than it could afford to keep.

A B.C. provincial task force will investigate the slaughter of 100 dogs near Whistler in April 2010. ((CBC))
Earlier on Wednesday, a group that sets voluntary guidelines for the treatment of sled dogs has removed the man who admitted to the slaughter from its board of directors.

The man, who is the former operator of Howling Dog Tours, was the vice-president of Mush with Pride, a U.S.-based group that encourages responsible sled-dog care and sets voluntary guidelines for the industry.

The organization's board voted this morning to remove the man from his position, said the group's president, Karen Ramstead.

Ramstead said she told him about his removal by email, and he responded that he understood.

Threats investigated

She said Mush with Pride isn't assigning blame or guilt, but felt having him remain on the board would bring unwanted attention to the group and hamper its mission.

The RCMP Tuesday said it was investigating serious online threats made against the man who shot the dogs, both in emails and in comments made on news websites.

The man who carried out the killings has filed a successful compensation claim for post-traumatic stress from the incident, but hasn't responded to requests for comment.

With files from The Canadian Press