No charges in sled dog case a cause for concern 

Two years after mass cull nobody held responsible

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOHN FRENCH - Answers Needed Crown counsel is quiet on charges stemming from the mass culling of sled dogs.
  • Photo by John French
  • Answers Needed Crown counsel is quiet on charges stemming from the mass culling of sled dogs.

Almost two years have passed since a mass sled dog cull took place near the Outdoor Adventures Whistler dog kennel, and there's still no word on whether anyone will be charged in connection with the incident that shocked the world.

People who have been waiting anxiously for word of possible charges in relation to the case are getting tired of the wait.

"We're hopeful that there is some kind of closure and that closure includes some kind of charges in this terrible, terrible case," said Sled Dog Co. Foundation director Sue Eckersly this week.

Peter Fricker of the Vancouver Humane Society, an animal advocate who believes commercial sled dog operations should be banned, said the length of time it is taking Crown counsel to determine if charges should be laid is significant compared to other animal abuse allegations.

"It has been a long time," said Fricker.

He noted that Janet Olson, an alleged dog thief, was investigated and charges were quickly laid against her late last year.

"How is it that this issue seems to be moving so quickly?" Fricker asked. "Given how long since the investigation (in Whistler), it has been some time since they (the SPCA) handed over their investigation."

Fricker said he feels Crown has had plenty of time to determine if charges are warranted.

The SPCA conducted an investigation that included digging up a mass grave. The resulting documentation was significant and Crown attorneys have been reviewing volumes of information gathered by a team of international investigators.

News of the existence of a mass grave leaked in February of last year and an investigation was launched after Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) documents revealed that the general manager of Howling Dog Tours Whistler, Bob Fawcett, applied for benefits after suffering post-traumatic stress disorder from carrying out the mass cull. Leaked WCB documentation suggest that the dogs were put down over the course of April 21 and 23 in 2010 after demand for sled dog tours allegedly dropped following the Olympic Winter Games.

Outdoor Adventures Whistler (OAW), operated by Joey Houssian, had a financial interest in Howling Dog Tours Whistler at the time, but Fawcett ran the company. Hossian's company OAW did not take over operational control until May 2010. When the story broke last year Houssian said he had no idea about the mass cull though he understood some dogs were to be euthanized for health reasons or because they could not be adopted out. He denied vehemently that it had anything to do with the Olympics.

Calls to and messages left by Pique on the Crown counsel media relations line in Victoria have gone unanswered.

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