Provincial task force to investigate reported sled dog killings

The provincial government has launched a task force to look into the reported killing of about 100 sled dogs in Whistler last year.

Premier Gordon Campbell has announced that Kamloops-North MLA Terry Lake will lead the task force, which will also include representation from the B.C. SPCA and the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

The task force will review the circumstances around the reported mass killing in April 2010, and why authorities didn’t find out about the incident earlier.

"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," said Premier Gordon Campbell in a press release issued today (February 2). "No creature should ever have to suffer in the manner that has been reported, and we want to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again in our province."

The B.C. SPCA has launched an investigation into the incident, which became public on January 31 when media reports indicated an employee with the tour company Outdoor Adventures Whistler has been granted compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder after killing the dogs. The SPCA described the details of the incident outlined in a WorkSafe BC report as horrifying.

Outdoor Adventures has said that while they were aware of the relocation and euthanization of the dogs, “it was our expectation that it was done in a proper, legal and humane manner.”

The task force led by Lake, who is a veterinarian, will also review issues related to regulation and oversight of the dog sledding industry, and make recommendations to prevent future incidents.

The task force report will be completed within 45 days, when it will be forwarded to the minister of agriculture for review before it is made public.



Peter Hamilton, Lifeforce

Feb 2, 2011 at 4:58pm

The horrific slaughter of 100 dogs exploited by the sled dog industry, is only the tip of the ice pack. There are many more “culled” dogs buried below the blood stained snow across Canada and far too many cruelties within these businesses. Some say they are working dogs so regulate it. Lifeforce, the Vancouver based animal rights and ecology organization, say don’t treat them any differently than animal companions. Any regulations will not be easily enforced and will not end the tragedies.

It is time to end injustices under the Canadian animal cruelty laws. Politicians are hearing the outcry. Since the dogs were killed as a downturn in business one politician stated that it is now a black eye to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Now Premier Campbell recognizes the threat to BC tourism and sets up a task force.

The public has moral and monetary power. Don’t support those businesses that profit from the animal abuses. Put on the snow shoes or skis for exercise NOT exploitation. Sled dogs should be on the list of tourism don’ts!


Feb 2, 2011 at 5:24pm

BC SPCA CEO, Craig Daniell provided a number of excellent suggestions for people to take action in a statement released earlier this week -

1. Contact your local MLA to express your strong support for significant funding for animal cruelty investigations. The BC SPCA currently spends more than $2.2 million a year investigating more 6,000 complaints of animal cruelty and neglect. Despite this annual investment, we simply do not have enough officers in the field. We receive no provincial government funding for this work and must raise all funds for our cruelty investigations and other animal protection work through donations.

2. Contact all the candidates in the provincial leadership race to express your support for strong animal cruelty laws and significant funding for the work of the BC SPCA.

3. Contact your local MP and ask them to ensure the swift passage of legislation that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of animals across Canada. Although penalties for animal cruelty were recently increased, Canada’s federal animal cruelty laws have seen no significant improvement in more than 100 years.

4. Make a donation to help animals in need. Your support saves lives and enables us to provide emergency rescue and care for nearly 34,000 animals each year. The work of the BC SPCA would not be possible without our caring and compassionate supporters.

Silly Rabbit

Feb 2, 2011 at 6:19pm

Okay let's get this straight - for nine years, non-profit groups, welfare agencies, and politicians have begged, pleaded, and cried for Campbell to form a task force or committee to look at child poverty. Reports have been written, statistics cited, hands wrung.

Five days ago the Representative for Children and Youth releases a report describing how 21 infants in B.C. died because of poverty just in the last 3 years. In almost every case, the death could have been prevented if government support had been forthcoming. Still, Campbell and his government do nothing.

News of a tragic and horrific slaughter of 100 dogs breaks Monday, and 2 days later, hey presto, Campbell has set up a task force.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be a task force for the dogs, or that the dogs lives weren't important. They are. I just wish the lives of babies who died because they were born in the wrong family were equally important.


Feb 2, 2011 at 6:31pm

Wow... how long did it take the government to set up a task force to look into the killing of women from the Downtown Eastside?

I'm glad this task force is in place but do hope that it sets a precedent for all living creatures, not just the ones we see as our babies.


Feb 2, 2011 at 7:24pm

I agree with the two above statements, but I find it kind of odd that Gordon Campbell is so fast out of the gate on this. It might be a good time to ask for a task force to be set up on the sale of BC Rail and a number of other things that are still in the dark to the people of this province.