Canada Investigating Slaughter of Sled Dogs (UPDATE)
VANCOUVER, Canada - A Canadian government task force was appointed Wednesday to investigate the slaughter of 100 husky dogs used during the 2010 Winter Olympics, as well as the sled-dog industry.
The dogs, which pulled tourist sleds in the Canadian ski resort of Whistler, were reportedly killed by one tourism company worker using a shotgun and a knife. Injured dogs tried to escape and one survived to crawl from a mass grave a day later.
"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," British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell in a statement.
The province appointed a panel headed by a veterinarian to investigate the two-day slaughter last April.
A criminal investigation was announced Monday by Canada's national police force and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The dogs reportedly were killed because business slumped in the two months following the Games and they were no longer needed by tourism company Outdoor Adventures, which sold dog-sled rides to tourists.
They were among several hundred owned by Outdoor Adventures and its subsidiary Howling Dog Whistler Inc..
Outdoor Adventures said in a statement that it was "shocked and appalled" by the description of the killings. It has suspended sales of sled rides to tourists.
The company said it was aware of the planned euthanization of dogs last April but "expected this to be done in a proper, legal and humane manner." It "did not instruct the employee to euthanize the dogs in the manner described."
The case came to light on Monday after the unnamed worker claimed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of slaughter, and reportedly was awarded compensation from British Columbia worker's board.
After the case sparked worldwide media reports, rallies were held in support of the dogs and a Facebook campaign was launched to boycott Outdoor Adventures.
In addition to the slaughter, the British Columbia task force will report on the regulation and oversight of the dog sledding industry and the role of government agencies including the worker's compensation board, which did not communicate the case "to appropriate authorities." The board's report is due in March.
Image: Frank Kovalchek / via Flickr