Former worker at B.C. dogsled company speaks out
A former employee at a B.C. dogsled tour company connected to the grisly slaughter of 100 healthy dogs says she left her job there because she didn't like what she saw.
Myriam Blais worked for Howling Dog Tours in Whistler about four years ago, and says the company was already overloaded with dogs.
"When I got there, there were 160 and a few years later there were 300, and they felt like we needed all those dogs to provide for the demand. For me, I was just stressed in that kennel," she told CTV News.
The company's general manager filed a claim with WorkSafe BC last year, asking for compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder after shooting dozens of dogs to death and dumping their bodies in a mass grave in April.
Blais was devastated by the news.
"For sure, I shed a few tears. I'm still really overwhelmed and stressed. I think that I'm still processing this right now," she said.
According to the WorkSafe BC documents, the dogs were killed because of a "slow winter season" after the Winter Olympics.
The worker described chasing after a dog that survived a shot to the face: "Although she had the left side of her cheek blown off and her eye hanging out, he was unable to catch her."
Another apparently dead dog was dumped into the mass grave, but the worker later noticed it crawling around amidst the pile of corpses, still barely alive. He had to climb into the pit to put the animal out of its misery.
The B.C. SPCA and Whistler RCMP are investigating, and say criminal charges are possible.
Since news of the slaughter broke, the Vancouver Humane Society has issued a call to ban dogsled businesses.
But Blais says she hopes the shocking story doesn't tarnish the whole industry.
"I just think it's a matter of people being aware of what kind of tour they are booking, the number of dogs in that kennel and make sure they are welcome in that kennel and there is nothing to hide," she said.
Outdoor Adventures Whistler, which assumed full operational control of Howling Dog Tours in May 2010, says that it has made "significant" changes to the business to ensure the humane treatment of its animals.
Those changes include giving away 75 dogs, neutering males and creating an open-pen kennel rather than tethering the dogs. Guns are no longer allowed on site and the company's new policy is that euthanasia must be performed at a veterinary office.
But it could be too late for the tour company.
As news of the gruesome cull spread across Canada and into the U.S., animal lovers took to the internet to ask for a boycott of Outdoor Adventures Whistler. In just one day, a Facebook page called "Boycotting Outdoor Adventures in BC, Whistler" gathered more than 10,000 fans.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Brent Shearer