By SPCA staff
Published: April 20, 2012
Crown counsel today announced charges of animal cruelty against Bob Fawcett, former general manager of the Whistler-based Howling Dog Tours, for causing unnecessary pain and suffering to a number of sled dogs in April 2010.
His first court appearance is scheduled for May 24 in Pemberton.
Gruesome details of the mass killings were leaked to media in January 2011 after Fawcett filed a successful claim with WorkSafe BC, saying the cull left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Fawcett also posted details on a PTSD website, describing how the panicked animals were shot or had their throats slit before being dumped in a mass grave on the property.
The BC SPCA immediately launched an investigation and last May a team of BC SPCA constables, veterinarians and forensic scientists completed the grisly task of exhuming the bodies of 54 sled dogs from the grave near Whistler.
Evidence gathered at the site formed the basis for a BC SPCA report submitted to Crown counsel in September 2011 recommending charges against Fawcett.
The report contained more than a thousand of pages of evidence, including extensive forensic evidence collected at the gravesite using state-of-the-art scientific techniques.
“We had to produce clear evidence linking an individual to the crime as well as physical proof that the animals suffered unnecessarily, as outlined in the Criminal Code,” says Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations for the BC SPCA.
Moriarty says she is confident in the evidence that was collected and presented to Crown.
“Our report is the culmination of thousands of hours of work, not only by our own SPCA constables, but by some of the best forensic scientists in North America who assisted us with the collection of the evidence.”
Moriarty says that while the scope and cost of the sled dog investigation were unprecedented in BC SPCA history, to ignore such disturbing allegations was not an option.
“This investigation was about uncovering the facts in a particular case of alleged animal cruelty that shocked people around the world,” says Moriarty.
The BC SPCA was a key contributor to a government task force that was created last year to examine ways to ensure more humane treatment for sled dogs and to a new sled dog code of practice that adopted in February 2012.
Moriarty says the BC SPCA is planning a memorial for the slain sled dogs this summer. “We have handled the remains of the dogs with the utmost respect and dignity and will be releasing details of the memorial soon.”
In the meantime, she says, the approval of charges is a huge step towards justice for the sled dogs who lost their lives. “By uncovering the truth we have spoken out for these animals. We hope that they will finally be able to rest in peace.”