Whistler sled dogs to be laid for final rest 

SPCA planning special ceremony in Penticton

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The 56 sled dogs unearthed in the area of the Howling Dog Tours kennel back in 2011 are going to be reburied at an animal cemetery owned by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

The organization that led the investigation into the slaughter of the sled dogs in April 2010 chose the Penticton site because the sad story touched people around the world.

"This wasn't just a Whistler story. It was a story that touched the hearts of every person across B.C. who loves animals," said Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer for the BC SPCA.

She added that the dogs had to be exhumed from the mass grave north of Whistler so forensic evidence could be gathered.

"We were always very aware of our responsibility to treat the remains of the dogs with great care," Moriarty said through a news release. "This was a heartbreaking case, but now that a guilty plea has been rendered and justice is being served we hope that these beautiful animals can now finally rest in peace."

Bob Fawcett, the former general manager of Howling Dog Tours, entered a guilty plea in connection with the killing of the dogs. A sentencing hearing for Fawcett is scheduled for Nov. 22. He potentially faces five years in prison, a fine of $10,000 and a lifetime ban from owning animals.

Lorie Chortyk, the SPCA general manager of community relations, said her organization hopes Fawcett's sentencing sends a clear message.

"This kind of treatment of animals who are used for recreation and for human entertainment that is just not acceptable," Chortyk said. "We certainly hope that the sentencing is strong enough and serious enough to send a very clear message to people not only in the sled dog industry but in any industry that uses animals for entertainment or recreation."

Chortyk said the SPCA is confident that all the dogs buried at the mass gravesite were recovered, despite the fact that Fawcett's Workers Compensation Board report indicated 100 dogs were destroyed.

"We don't know if he made up that number or what," said Chortyk.

She said a massive grid was created and experts with international experience in working with mass graves used their expertise to ensure all the dogs were recovered.

"They literally went inch-by-inch through that and sifted through for any kind or remains or any other additional evidence," Chortyk said. "They absolutely exhausted that area."

The SPCA burial is set for Nov. 2 at on White Lake Road south of Penticton.

Messages in memory of the slain dogs can be posted at facebook.com/bcspca or through Twitter at #WhistlerSledDogs.

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