The first paragraph of the Vancouver Sun story that details the last moments of Susie the sled dog's life is difficult to read. The dog--bred to entertain tourists during the 2010 Winter Olympics--had apparently outlived its usefulness to the company Outdoor Adventures of Whistler. And there, outside, near what would eventually turn into a mass grave, an employee of the company was ordered to kill the dog and 99 others like her--a task that, in Susie's case, was neither quick nor painless.
Susie's death didn't come quickly among the 100 sled dogs slaughtered after they had outlived their usefulness to Outdoor Adventures, which had used them as sled dogs to entertain the Olympic visitors in Whistler. The general manager who had been ordered to do the killings had shot out Susie's left side of her cheekbone but she didn't die. Instead, with her eyeball hanging out of its socket she tried vainly to escape after the man made the mistake of letting go of the leash and she was able to run off. The unidentified employee then had to track the Husky down using a scope on his firearm to end this poor animal's life.
A few other stories are surfacing about how some of the dogs met their end. They were shot, one at a time and over a two-day period. Some, like Susie, were wounded first; others that weren't meant to be killed caught stray gunfire and had to be finished off afterward. All ended up in a mass grave and at least one of them went in still alive.
The story came to light on Monday after it was discovered that the employee who killed the dogs had filed (and been granted) worker's compensation after he said he'd developed post-traumatic stress disorder from the gruesome ordeal.
The order to kill (the breeding term is "cull") the dogs apparently came after what was supposed to be a spike in post-Olympics business never quite materialized.
Outdoor Adventures' owners have more or less gone into hiding. The company's spokesman Graham Aldcroft gave a statement saying that the killings were supposed to be done in a "legal and humane" manner and has since removed his Facebook page and refused to answer any more questions. The company's subsidiary, Howling Dog Tours Whistler, which runs the dog-sled operations, has been mum on the matter.
Graham Aldcroft, Outdoor Adventures Spokesman
Already a Facebook page has been started advocating a boycott on Outdoor Adventures.
The SPCA has been leading the way in terms of alleging gross animal cruelty, and has started a probe into the slaughter.
The outrage over this incident is only beginning. And the effects are likely to extend beyond Outdoor Adventures and Howling Dog Tours to the entire Whistler resort, which has been struggling financially as it is.
Still, the fact remains that euthanizing unwanted sled dogs is a common practice for such businesses, usually done away from the prying eyes of animal-rights activists and the public in general. If not for the mental unease rightfully suffered by the dogs' killer (and perhaps unrightfully compensated for by Canada's workers compensation board), people likely would have never known about it.