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Investigation widens into B.C. sled dog killings

An image from the website for Outdoor Adventures Whistler, which offers sled dog outings.
An image from the website for Outdoor Adventures Whistler, which offers sled dog outings.

What led to killings of 100 sled dogs in Whistler last spring? British Columbia's Premier Gordon Campbell has appointed a task force as part of a widening investigation into the animal deaths at a dog sled compound near the winter resort town of Whistler.

Dogs were employed for Olympic Games tourists

The dogs were owned by the firm Outdoor Adventures Whistler, and many were brought in for activities related to the 2010 Olympic Games. An employee of the company sought workman's compensation after saying he suffered post traumatic stress disorder after carrying out a mass 'cull' - or killings - of dogs for the firm last April. 

The Vancouver Sun's Kim Pemberton reports Premier Campbell has given the task force 45 daysto complete their review:

"We want to get the facts and act and make sure it doesn't ever happen again. The tragic and disturbing details that have emerged around how these dogs were inhumanely treated are not acceptable to British Columbians or to their government."

The Sun reports 100 of 350 dogs were killed on April 21st and 23rd, according to the employees complaint. His compensation claim was first heard last May, and was approved late last month, according to Worksafe BC (WBC). The officer who heard the case has said the man's employer did not dispute the claim.

But in a statement to Whistler-area media on Wednesday, Outdoor Adventures owner Joey Houssian appealed for cool heads, according to reporter Jennifer Miller of the Whistler Question:

"Like everyone we were shocked and horrified when we learned of the details in the WCB document last week," he wrote on Wednesday.

Threats of violence since case came to light

Miller writes Royal Canadian Mounted Police officials confirmed threats have been made against some associated with the sled dog operation. The Sun will not name the man who brought the complaints, citing concern for his mental condition. 

Pemberton writes, "It is believed the man is in hiding after threats to his life."  According to the Question's Miller: "Those threats constitute a criminal offence."

The task force will include members of the SPCA and elected leaders, among others. Public meetings are unlikely, according to task force chair Terry Lake of Kamloops-North Thompson, citing the need to complete the work in 45 days, according to the Sun.

Demonstration on Saturday

Protesters against animal cruelty will gather in West Vancouver on Saturday in an event organizers have titled "Barking Mad." According to

“We need to channel something positive from this tragic event and show the world that this is not Canada, and it’s not the way we treat animals,” said (Catherine) Barr, the site's community blog editor.

The event is scheduled from Noon to 2 p.m. at West Vancouver's Ambleside Dog Park.