A Whistler, B.C. sled dog owner who employed dogs to take tourists on tours during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics pleaded guilty to "causing unnecessary pain and suffering to animals" on Thursday. It involved the death of 56 sled dogs with a gun or knife.
Robert (Bob) Fawcett, owner of 'Howling Dog Tours,' claimed he killed the dogs because there was no further work for them following the 2010 winter games, a claim denied by companies that employed him. He killed them in April of 2010 by cutting their throats or shooting them; the killings came to light only after he'd applied for Worker's Compensation, claiming he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the trauma of killing the dogs.
In that application seeking Worker's Compensation, he described the horror of the cull, including the chasing down of a dog to kill it, shooting a dog in the face and not having it die and jumping into the mass grave to finish a dog off. On a PTSD website he also detailed the killings and said he had slaughtered 100 dogs. But when officials uncovered the mass grave only 56 dead dogs were found.
Sled Dog operator Fawcett: sentenced in November
The sentencing takes place November 22 and he could get up to five years in prison and be fined as much as $75,000; he could also be banned from owning animals for life. New laws regarding the treatment of sled dogs have been enacted since this story came to light but will not affect Fawcett's sentencing.
Over a dozen Animal Rights protesters were outside the North Vancouver courtroom where Fawcett entered his plea, demanding a strong jail sentence to send a message. The Crown has not said what sentence it will seek but prosecutor Neil MacKenzie noted that killing the animals was not the issue in the case - culls are legal, with regulations on how they are achieved - but rather the cruelty with which it was done.