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Animal Rights in Whistler, British Columbia: A Case Study of 100 Slaughtered Sledge Dogs Case Study

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Updated: Jan 13th, 2022

Overview

The heinous slaughter of 100 dogs from a pack of 300 by Howling Dog tours shocked the world revealing a dirty secret of the dog sledge industry. Related to lesson 4 about animal rights, this case study involves the slaughter of 100 healthy sledge dogs by Howling Dog Tours in Whistler, British Columbia (B.C.) that took place between the dates of 21 and 23 April 2010.

After the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, there was a drop in the sledging dog business; thus an employee of the Howling Tour Company slaughtered 100 dogs to make the business more cost-effective. The allegations of the slaughter started after “a WorkSafe document leaked to the media in January 2011” (“Update on Sled Dog Investigation”, par 15). The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, (SPCA) launched investigations after the employee “filed a claim with the Worker’s Compensation Board of B.C. for post-traumatic stress, after being ordered to kill dozens of dogs” (100 healthy Sled Dogs Slaughtered in Whistler, B.C., par 3). This involved hiring a team of forensic experts to collect evidence “from bodies of more than 56 dogs exhumed from the mass grave (“Update on Sled Dog Investigation”, par 7). The forensic evidence gathered from the grave was used in the case against the tour company.

After the incident, there were demonstrations with people calling for tougher laws against animal cruelty, which had not changed since 1892. Currently, B.C. has the toughest animal cruelty laws in Canada, with imprisonment of 24 months instead of the previous 6 months and a maximum penalty of $75,000 from the previous $10,000 (Pemberton, par 1).

Challenges/Opportunities

The slump of business after the Winter Olympics proved to be a challenge for the tour operator to maintain the pack of dogs. This led to the slaughtering of the animals after it became a problem to find new homes for them (100 healthy Sled Dogs Slaughtered in Whistler, B.C., par 1). According to Moriarty, manager at SPCA, it is “legal to shoot an animal, as long as it dies instantly” (par 12), a task that became challenging on the large pack of dogs. This inhumane act proved so when the employee used a knife to kill an aggressive dog after he ran out of ammunition (par 6). He also “describes a dog that survived a shot to the face: “its eye was hanging off, and it was still running around” ” (par 5). Whistler did not have any legislation concerning animal cruelty, but there were provisions in the SPCA act that allowed Criminal Code charges. Previously, animal cruelty was difficult to be accepted by Crown prosecutors as a criminal charge (Cooper and Sullivan, par 22). To prove the dogs were killed in an inhumane way, SPCA dug up the mass grave to compile forensic evidence for its investigation.

The slaughter of the 100 sledge dogs provided an opportunity for strict laws against animal cruelty. Currently, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, amended by the provincial government ensures sledge dog companies operating on Crown Land in British Columbia have their animals inspected annually (B.C. Dogs Must be Inspected Annually, par 1). This incident brought sharp focus to the rights of animals since most of them were killed mercilessly without the knowledge of the authorities. This incident was followed by demonstrations and petitions by animal rights activists forcing law enforcers to enact tougher rules to guard against animal cruelty.

Case – Lesson Connections

The slaughter of the 100 sledge dogs can be compared to the Canadian seal hunt in lesson 4, concerning the philosophical perspective of the animal rights movement. There are two philosophical perspectives of viewing animal rights; the Utilitarian Perspective and the Rights-Based perspective (Lesson 4, slide 1). However, according to Moriarty, the methods used to kill the sledge dogs were inhumane. SPCA seems to be adopting the Rights-Based Perspective, which focuses on whether the action of killing the dogs was inherently right or wrong. Moriarty believed “that lethal injections supervised by a veterinarian would have been the more humane way to cull the dogs” (100 healthy Sled Dogs Slaughtered in Whistler, B.C., par 13) than slitting their throats with a knife. This proved when Moriarty said, “….By fully investigating these allegations can we send a clear message that we are a humane society where brutality and violence against animals will not be tolerated” (“Update on Sled Dog Investigation”, par 19). SPCA focused on the action leading to the death of the dogs, an act considered inhumane but not the consequences of killing the dogs (Lecture 4, slide 1).

Another lesson that can be taken from the seal hunt protest is the methods used to kill the animals. Lesson 4 slide 17 proves the inhumane way the seals are left to suffer on the ice after being clubbed or shot. The seals do not die instantly; a case which is similar to the Whistler incident where a shot sledge dog presumed dead tried crawling from the mass grave after 20 min.

Works Cited

  1. “100 healthy Sled Dogs Slaughtered in Whistler, B.C.” ctv.ca. CTV News., 2011.
  2. .” cbc.ca. CBCNEWS., 2011. Web.
  3. Cooper, Sam and Sean Sullivan “Massacre horrifies B.C.: Man shoots 100 sled dogs…” theprovince.com. The Province., 2011.
  4. Pemberton, Kim. “B.C. introduces tougher animal cruelty laws.” Vancouversun.com. 2011.
  5. “Update on Sled Dog Investigation.” Spca.bc.ca. BCSPCA., 2011.
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IvyPanda. "Animal Rights in Whistler, British Columbia: A Case Study of 100 Slaughtered Sledge Dogs." January 13, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/animal-rights-in-whistler-british-columbia-a-case-study-of-100-slaughtered-sledge-dogs/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Animal Rights in Whistler, British Columbia: A Case Study of 100 Slaughtered Sledge Dogs." January 13, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/animal-rights-in-whistler-british-columbia-a-case-study-of-100-slaughtered-sledge-dogs/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Animal Rights in Whistler, British Columbia: A Case Study of 100 Slaughtered Sledge Dogs'. 13 January.

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