Friday, December 16, 2011

'Justice' may prove elusive

By on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 1:20 PM

Interesting announcement this week that the sled dog operation at the centre of the alleged 2010 dog massacre in Whistler has been turned over to a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to improving animal welfare.

The Sled Dog Foundation, and other sled dog companies in B.C., will undoubtedly operate under closer scrutiny in the years ahead. Outrage after the allegations became public led to new provincial regulations for all sled dog operators, which should only be good for the dogs.

But anyone expecting “justice” for the dogs destroyed in the spring of 2010 — an expectation fuelled by the SPCA — may be disappointed.

There haven’t been any charges laid 11 months after the allegations came to light. Considering the first charges in the Stanley Cup riot have only recently been laid, and last spring’s investigation of the sled dog site in the Soo Valley had to wait until the snow melted, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.

But neither should we be surprised if there never are any charges laid.

Remember: all the gruesome details that have shocked and horrified people around the world have come from one source, the man who claims to have killed the animals inhumanely and then sought compensation from WorkSafe BC for his mental anguish.

The investigation, led by the SPCA, unearthed the remains of more than 50 dogs in a mass grave. The leaked WorkSafe BC documents suggested there were up to 100 dogs killed.

Autopsies were done on the animals over the summer and in September the SPCA reportedly turned over tens of thousands of pages of evidence to the Crown, with a recommendation that cruelty charges under the criminal code be pursued.

The SPCA’s findings, based on their excavation of the grave site and autopsies done more than a year after the killings, may indeed prove that the dogs were killed in inhumane ways. But it’s going to be quite a bit more difficult to prove who did the killing.

A WorkSafe BC claim is not a confession. And as far as we know, there were no witnesses.

So 11 months later, with the graphic allegations as strong in people’s minds as the demand for justice, we are still left wondering what exactly happened out in the Soo Valley.


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