About this time a year ago, someone was sitting in the office of their business and looking over the financials. The expected boom from the recent Olympics had not worked out as expected, so changes had to be made. The easiest and quickest change would be to reduce the number of dogs this sled dog touring company had in its inventory. So he decided: 100 dogs needed to be killed.
And word was sent to the man who lives among them — the dogs’ very lifeline. It would be the job of their caretaker — the man who fed them, attended to them; the man who named them, and even kept one of them as his family dog — to kill them.
Reports that I have read say that he tried to find homes for as many as he could. And he was largely unsuccessful. The BC SPCA reportedly turned him down saying that sled dogs are unadoptable. This is not true.
But what I read that has stuck with me the most was the report released from Work Safe BC:
“As a result of the panic, mid-way through April 21st, he wounded but did not kill one dog, “Suzie”. Suzie was the mother of his family’s pet dog “Bumble”. He had to chase Suzie through the yard because the horrific noise she made when wounded caused him to drop the leash. Although she had the left side of her cheek blown off and her eye hanging out, he was unable to catch her. He then obtained a gun with a scope and used it to shoot her when she settled down close to another group of dogs. When he went to gather her body he was attacked by one of the other dogs and bitten in the arm. Although because he had a thick shirt on he was not injured, the moment was horrific given his fear when attacked combined with his feelings about the culling of the dogs.”
“On April 21 ,2010, he put down approximately 55 dogs. As he neared the end of the cull that day, the dogs were so panicked they were biting him; he had to wrap his arms in foam to prevent injury. He also had to perform what he described as “execution style” killings where he wrestled the dogs to the ground and stood on them with one foot to shoot them. The last few kills were “multiple-shot killings” as he was simply unable to get a clean shot. He described a guttural sound he had never heard before from the dogs and fear in their eyes.”
I do not doubt that this man has PTSD. I would be forever haunted. I want to scream at the computer that he could have done more and should have done more. But I have not walked in his shoes to fully understand.
Instead I feel that on some level, in some parallel universe, or sadly in THIS universe, we ALL failed these dogs. We failed to realize the nature of this industry to periodically cull their dogs for business’ sake. We have failed to pull together as a society to be open and responding to their needs, we failed to help these babies..
Most rescues and shelters are full… and likely responded as such if/when they were approached by Outdoor Adventures Whistler. Would/could they have responded differently if they had realized the very real urgency here?
As we finally start to really embrace a more humane lifestyle for our animals — pets, farm animals and wildlife, we must make ourselves available to the situations we encounter and respond appropriately. Both the situations that we know of and those that will arise. We need to improve our animal welfare legislation. We need to stop animals from being categorized as mere property and respect their sentience. We need to create a more effective countrywide network of rescues and shelters so that people in trouble can more easily tap into this community of caregivers when they need help. We need to do it for the animals.
On April 23, 2010, the last of the dogs were killed. And not in a pretty or humane way. They died terrified.
On April 23, 2011 in many communities across the globe, people will be marching or gathering in vigil to the victims who were given no say about their very own lives, the ONE thing that truly is our own. It’s not too late to organize your own vigil — whether it is a march, a gathering in a park or even inviting your friends to join you in your backyard. In remembrance of these dogs, we MUST enact better legislation for the welfare of our animals. And we must enact stiffer penalties for animal abuse/cruelty.
And remember: Get out and vote. Reading a blog or carrying signs for the news cameras won’t change the world. Voting can.
More photos of Outdoor Adventure Whistler sled dogs | Thanks to Amie Wills for posting their photos