As news of the culling of 100 dogs used for sledding continues to spread tourism and municipal leaders have gone into full damage control.
"...To say these allegations reflect a tragic event would be an understatement," said a Tourism Whistler statement sent to media today.
"These allegations are a shock to us all."
In response Tourism Whistler has held discussions with Outdoor Adventures at Whistler Ltd (OAW) and has decided to suspend bookings on its website of OAW's dog sledding tours. Tourism Whistler will be providing refunds to anyone who chose to cancel their dog-sled reservations. There have been no cancellations to date.
Tourism Whistler went on to say that it has represented Outdoor Adventures for over six years and that it is unaware of any past incidents that would create concern for its treatment of animals. The organization emphasized that the investigation now being carried out into the cull is focused on one operator and the decision does not impact the other two dogsled companies in town.
Chris Quinlan, a councillor with the Resort Municipality of Whistler, said, personally, he was disgusted when he first heard about the story.
"I was pretty shocked," he said.
Earlier Monday, Quinlan contacted Canadian Snowmobile Adventures (CSA), which along with OAW and Blackcomb Snowmobile makes up the dogsled market in Whistler, and asked whether he was using dogs from the same kennel. Both operators have completely different kennels from the one used by OAW.
Asked what impact the news could have on the dogsled operators, Quinlan said, "I think what'll happen is the good operators will step up, showcase a good product in the way they operate. That will take care of the dogsledding industry."
News of the dog slaughter broke this morning after WorkSafe B.C. documents provided to CKNW Radio in Vancouver showed that a subcontracted employee of Outdoor Adventures was compensated for post-traumatic stress disorder after shooting 70 dogs on April 21 and 23 of last year. Media reports later had the company admitting that 100 dogs were killed.
The documents also stated that demand for dog sled tours fell after the Olympics and that the shootings were carried out when the company could not find homes for the animals. They were buried in what's referred to as a "mass grave."
Canadian Snowmobile Adventures, which also runs showmobile, showshoe and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) tours in the Callaghan Valley, contacted Pique on Monday morning and said it has a high standard of care for animals in dogsled operations.
"All my guys can run free," said Jamie Hargreaves, who runs the tours as a subcontractor for CSA. "Just as an example, at other companies you won't see any dogs off a chain, whereas these guys can run free without a chain. In the summer you'll see me running 40 loose dogs on an ATV at a time, just running with me."
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