Sled dog massacre court case now set for August 

Protesters demand justice for sled dogs outside North Vancouver courthouse

click to enlarge BY JOHN FRENCH - POOCH PROTESTERS Protesters gathered outside the North Vancouver courthouse to express anger at animal abusers.
  • POOCH PROTESTERS Protesters gathered outside the North Vancouver courthouse to express anger at animal abusers.

The man accused of shooting and stabbing to death up to 54 sled dogs near Whistler did not appear to enter a plea at his second court date hearing in North Vancouver June 19.

But a handful of protesters did show up at the courthouse. They came to speak out against animal cruelty carrying placards which declared: "Jail a must for dog killer," and "Justice for sled dogs."

"We're tired of seeing animal abusers walk away with a slap on the wrist," said protester Marley Daviduk of the Vancouver Animal Defense League, outside the courthouse.

"We've seen lately that it is very common for animal abusers to continue on and commit crimes against human beings ... and we want to stop this cycle."

This was the second hearing in connection with the cull of sled dogs near Whistler in April of 2010. The first one was held in Pemberton last month. At that time a motion was made to move the case to North Vancouver for security reasons.

At the hearing Tuesday to set the date for arraignment Crown Counsel Nicole Gregoire told North Vancouver Provincial Court Judge Joanne Challenger that the soonest she would be available to attend court on the Fawcett matter was the third week of August.

Gregoire noted that defense lawyer Greg Diamond has 3,000 pages of documentation to read through, so she suggested a September date. But Challenger expressed concern for the length of time that has already passed.

"The offence dates back to 2010," said Challenger. "We have to move this matter along."

While Diamond has a significant amount of material to digest, he didn't protest the judge's suggestion to meet again in August.

"My client doesn't want to hold this trial up," Diamond told the court.

The judge ruled that the next court date would be set for August 16.

Fawcett is charged with causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an animal and if he is found guilty he could be fined up to $10,000 and he could be sent to jail for up to five years.

He was the general manager of the Whistler-based Howling Dog Tours at the time of the sled dog cull.

The BC SPCA spent more than $200,000 to investigate the dog cull after it was discovered that Fawcett had given WorkSafe BC details of the cull when he applied for benefits as he dealt with post traumatic distress.

Details of the killings were leaked to reporters in January 2011 after Fawcett was awarded WorkSafe BC benefits. The gruesome details created a firestorm of international reaction from people upset by the news.

The BC SPCA submitted a 1,000-page investigative report to Crown Counsel in September of 2011, and now more than two years after the dogs were killed, the matter is coming before the courts. The BC SPCA uncovered the remains of 54 sled dogs from a mass grave at the company's sled dog operations site near Whistler, though the original allegation suggested that up to 100 dogs were killed.

Gregoire indicated in May that the trial is expected to take ten days with about 15 witnesses.

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