Lesley Fox: Whistler sled dog massacre should be a lesson to all of us

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      The news was absolutely shocking: 100 sled dogs gruesomely killed because of slow business in Whistler.

      And now, the finger pointing has begun.

      Was it the fault of the man who shot the dogs and buried them in the giant pit? Or was it the fault of the company which may have ordered the massacre? Maybe we should blame the veterinarian who refused to humanely euthanize so many dogs in the first place?

      It is a lot to consider. But remember when you point your finger, there are three fingers pointing back at you.

      The truth is maybe we all played a small part in this horrible tragedy.

      Killing healthy dogs is completely legal. Even shooting them in the head is legal. Healthy animals, including adorable huskies, are killed every single day in shelters across Canada just because there is a so-called surplus.

      The investigators involved in the murder of the sled dogs in Whistler are not concerned about why these dogs were killed, but rather, “How were the dogs killed, and was it humane?”

      Really? Should the investigation focus on if the dogs were killed humanely or not? I think the investigation should focus on why the animals were in that situation in the first place.

      True, this story has elicited a public outcry. Good. It should. But now, let’s take a deeper look at the real issue.

      Those sled dogs died because a very large percentage of society has no real regard for animals and our current legal system simply reflects those views.

      Exchanging money for animals and their services, as if these beings were commodities, products, or inventory, usually results in such disaster.

      Furthermore, society not only tolerates this kind of commerce, we promote it, endorse it, market it, derive our livelihoods from it, and even take great pleasure in it.

      I am sure a dog-sled ride is a good time.

      Just imagine the fun those people had. It was likely the ultimate so-called Canadian experience for many Whistler tourists. The dogs likely seemed happy, families paid their money, took photos, and went home. I bet no one ever thought to wonder what happens to those dogs when business slows or they can’t run anymore.

      It reminds me of when I was a kid. It was a real treat to get a Big Mac combo (hold the pickles). I ate animals all the time. I never bothered to think much about those animals I ate, or how they ended up on my plate. Not until I became much older anyways.

      Each year in Canada, over three million cows, 30 million pigs, and 600 million chickens are slaughtered for food. Approximately 2.5 million fur-bearing animals are killed for their coats and over 300,000 baby seals are killed on the East Coast for their meat, oil, and fur.

      In addition to these staggering numbers, an unrecorded number (in the millions) of other animals including monkeys, frogs, fetal pigs, cats, dogs, guinea pigs, and mice are used and killed for testing, education, and research.

      The tragedy of the Whistler sled dogs should be a lesson to all of us.

      It is time to give real thought to our choices, to ask tough questions about where the animals we use come from, what happens to them in the future, and who is looking after them in the meantime.

      It is an opportunity to also examine our attitudes toward all animals. Do dogs suffer any more than other animals and what actions in our daily life contribute to the use and abuse of animals? Do we love all animals, or just some animals, like the husky dogs in Whistler, and why?

      Lastly, we need to pressure our members of Parliament to take action and tighten the laws in this country to give animals real protection and rights, and to severely punish the abusers.

      And why should you care? Because by saving animals, we can save ourselves.

      In the words of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, “We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.”

      Lesley Fox is the executive director of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, an animal-protection organization based in Burnaby.



      Just Business

      Feb 3, 2011 at 5:40pm

      What we know is this new task force will recommend that the SPCA get 24 million dollars of new taxpayer money, 20 million going to bureaucracy, 4 million going to do the actual work. As their donations dry up, this will be a win win situation for all involved, don't you think.


      Feb 3, 2011 at 6:16pm

      Its more disturbing how media likes to hide the olympics games as being the root and the original cause of this evil. The post-trauma of slow business is what drove the massacre.
      If you want to shed truth, speak it without prohibition.

      Alanna C.

      Feb 3, 2011 at 6:29pm

      I am in 100% agreeance with with you Lesley Fox!!! Thank you for writing this....it is exactly how I feel, and how others should too!! Amazing :) I will definately share this on my Facebook page!!!

      Alanna :)

      Chris Nicola

      Feb 3, 2011 at 6:44pm

      Everything started out great until the snowball of good intentions you started out with started rolling down the slippery slope fallacy to "you're all going to hell for eating meat" and there, it melted. It's unfortunate really, because what happened was a true tragedy in every sense, but instead of proposing realistic changes and solutions you used this tragedy for a soapbox.

      Roland Nova Scotia

      Feb 3, 2011 at 6:51pm

      The killer must be punish severly and the company so called owners of the dogs,,
      This cannot be forgotten this easily

      Punish those cruel people


      Feb 3, 2011 at 8:27pm

      None of the governments have done much to ensure the humaine treatment of animals. They don't do it for children so it will be some time before it gets around to protecting animals.
      We have for 7 years had the highest child poverty rate in Canada. The province has done nothing about it.
      They are going to hold an "investigation" into the Whistler incident but rest assured nothing will improve the laws to protect animals. The government does not even provide sufficient funds to enforce the regulations which are on the books. They cut funding for training of the animal protection officers.
      We have seen the cuts to child welfare and the lack of improvement in the status of children in this province. The minister responsible said no harm had been demonstrated following a child being left with her dead mother for 9 days.
      Do you really expect that type of mentality to improve the conditions of dogs and other animals. Only a sustained effort will do that and making it an election issue.
      People could start by pressuring their local/civic governments to make changes.
      Children don't vote and neither do animals so I am not expecting politicians to do much for children or animals.


      Feb 4, 2011 at 2:53am

      Just read a bit on this new article on the sled dog tragedy and it's amazing how this so called writer wants to blame the whole of society for this problem and I think that's a bit far fetched because it is the sled dog companies whom aquire these dogs for such jobs,so if your gonna blame any one,blame the companies for not having a heart towards these animals


      Feb 4, 2011 at 6:58am

      Thank you Lesley, you are so right! It has to start with us, we need to be more conscious in our daily life, we should think more about the consequences of how we are living, of what we are eating, of what we are putting out there and not just live upon what is "in" at that moment, we should put more heart into what we are doing, and we should not be afraid to speak up what is wrong. And yes, this matter concerns all of us!

      Dee Dee

      Feb 4, 2011 at 7:36am

      Lesley you absolutely nailed it on the head. Obviously this entire nightmare is so horrific but this issue is so much deeper. The lack of concern and humane treatment of ALL animals is so appalling. Good things do come out of horrendous situations and hopefuly we will see even a minor change in the laws regarding animal welfare due to the public outrage this event unleashed.


      Feb 4, 2011 at 10:20am

      Well said - Lesley Fox
      I have so enjoyed reading your comments here - Bravo,
      you have got the facts and the objectives bang on.
      The Straight can be proud of such a professionial!