Whistler Sled Dog Massacre: Part 1

Sled dog from Howling Dog Tours Whistler Inc.

The  Howling Dog Tours Whistler Inc. sled dog massacre was a terrible and preventable tragedy.   In April, 2010, Bob Fawcett (picture), former Vice President of Mush with P.R.I.D.E. (Providing Responsible Information on a Dog’s Environment) killed 100 healthy sled dogs with a shotgun and in several cases, a knife.  He killed them in front of each other, causing fear and stress to overwhelm the remaining animals, who became more and more panicked as the slaughter went on.

The Report

CBC has a PDF of the January 25, 2011 WorkSafe report, which is very, very hard to read.

It describes the death of “Suzie” who Fawcett wounded with the first bullet and who escaped, running through the yard with “the left side of her cheek blown off and her eye hanging out”.  He then realized that he had inadvertently shot another dog, “Poker” who was not slated to be euthanized, but who had been lying in his own feces, bleeding out from a neck wound.

The dogs became more and more panicked, “biting him; he had to wrap his arms in foam”.  He claimed that he could not get a clear shot at the last dogs.

He also had to perform what he described as “execution style” killings where he wrestled the dogs to the ground and stook on them with one foot to shoot them.  The last few kills were “multiple-shot” killings as he was simply unable to get a clean shot.”

As the killings went on, the dogs became more and more aggressive.  Fawcett described an attack by a dog he “grazed” with a bullet.  He slit the dog’s throat.  Knives were used on some of the other dogs.

His memory of the final 15 dogs is fuzzy.  Some he shot cleanly, others he had to chase.  In some cases it was simply easier to get behind the dogs and slit their throats and let them bleed out.  By the end he was covered in blood.

The Nuremberg Defense

By that point [nearing the end of the dog kill] he wanted nothing more than to stop the “nightmare” but he continued because he had been given a job to finish and did not want to prolong the suffering and anxiety of the whole kennel population.  He stated that he felt “numb”.

At the risk of pre-emptively invoking Godwin’s Law, I am going to compare the above with “Befehl ist Befehl” and, like the judges at the Nuremberg Trials, conclude that it was a load of shit.

Apparently it didn’t occur to Fawcett that the way to stop the nightmare was to stop what he was doing.  Or, better yet, not do it at all.  The excuse “I was only following orders” or “I had been given a job” doesn’t mean fuck all when it’s WRONG.

I guess we should all be glad that Fawcett didn’t work in an orphanage.

There have been some horrific things done in the name of “orders”.  Admittedly, Fawcett was in a difficult position – finding homes for 100 sled dogs, who were not pets and were not suited for the average family life would be a huge challenge – but he was not in an impossible one.

Even if the SPCA did not give him help, as he claims, there were other avenues.  He mentioned that a local vet refused to put down healthy sled dogs – did he ask this vet to spread the word?  He was the Vice-President of Mush With Pride – did it ever occur to him to ask his fellow members for help?  How about northern breed rescues, people who are aware of the needs of these dogs and could possibly spread the word farther afield?  In this day and age, anyone can make a webpage or has a friend who can.  If Fawcett had gone public, people would have been falling all over themselves to volunteer.  Hell, has the man ever heard of Facebook?

What went on in Fawcett’s mind?  He was a man who, up until April of 2010, seemed to be the epitome of a good dog man – concerned for his animals’ welfare and committed to advocating for all sled dogs’ welfare.  What went wrong?  How could a person who claimed to care about his dogs put them into a position where they were screaming and terrified?  How could he continue with the killing when it was clear that he wasn’t able to perform it mercifully?

Was it the same kind of impulse that leads people to continue giving money to 411 scam artists and Scientology?  The whisper that says, “Well if I stop now, I’ll have to face that what I’m doing is wrong and then I’ll still have to deal with the problem…”?

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