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BC SPCA recommends that man who culled sled dogs be charged

BC SPCA constables and forensic anthropologists exhume bodies at a mass grave of sled dogs near Whistler, B.C., May 8, 2011.

SPCA/SPCA

The BC SPCA has recommended that a man accused of slaughtering dozens of sled dogs be charged with causing unnecessary pain and suffering.

News of the killings near Whistler, B.C., first broke in late January. An employee of Outdoor Adventures Whistler said he killed the blue-eyed huskies last year after a decline in business.

In May, the BC SPCA exhumed the mass grave the dogs were buried in and found 56 bodies.

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Marcie Moriarty, a BC SPCA spokeswoman, said the society has wrapped up its investigation and handed its findings over to the Crown.

"We have recommended charges under the Criminal Code for causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal," she said Thursday.

The Crown must still review the BC SPCA's findings and determine whether to lay a charge.

Even though dozens of dogs were killed, Ms. Moriarty said only one count was recommended against the man accused of the cull.

"Typically, in animal-cruelty cases, we don't go by the animal. It's simply one count for the whole incident."

Ms. Moriarty said that, if convicted, the accused could face up to a five-year jail term, a significant fine and a lifetime ban on owning animals.

She said the investigation was one of the most complex in the BC SPCA's history.

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The man accused of the cull laid out the circumstances of the killings in a workers' compensation claim for post-traumatic stress disorder.

In April, 2010, his job was to cull the herd of about 300 by about 100 dogs. A veterinarian was contacted but refused to euthanize healthy animals. Attempts were made to find homes for the dogs, but with limited success.

The workers' compensation claim stated the employee had killed more than a dozen dogs when he came to Suzie, the mother of his family's pet dog, Bumble. The blast from his gun wounded her horribly, and her screams of pain made him drop the leash. Eventually he had to use a gun with a scope to finish her off at a distance. Other dogs attacked him when he went to retrieve the body.

The employee told WorkSafeBC he performed what he described as "execution-style" killings, where he wrestled the dogs to the ground and stood on them with one foot to shoot them.

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