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Monday, January 31, 2011

Olympic Shame

 My mother told me about something she heard that sounded so unbelievable, I thought it could not be true. A tale of Olympic sled dogs massacred by gunshot; something so wretched that I had to figure out what the heck she was talking about. As it turns out, my mum is telling the absolute truth. 

  WorkSafe BC ( The board that oversees worker's compensation claims in the province of British Columbia) received a claim on behalf of a man suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. The man told a story of working for Outdoor Adventures Whistler where he was ordered to kill healthy Husky dogs shortly after the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Olympiad. He detailed a dog that had survived a gunshot to the face and was walking around "with it's eye hanging out". On another occasion, an animal struggled to get out of a mass grave. In all, over 100 perfectly fine dogs were executed in some manners so horrifying as to be unspeakable. 

  Graham Aldcroft of Outdoor Adventures stated that the company had financial control of Howling Dog. but distanced itself from the tour group they own in this statement "While we were aware of the relocation and euthanization of dogs at Howling Dog Tours, we were completely unaware of the details of the incident until reading the document Sunday," He noted that Outdoor Adventures took over control of Howling Dogs in May, after the reported dog cull, and said it's now company policy that animals needing to be put down are treated at a vet's office.

  The worker, who remains unidentified, had his WorkSafe application approved, and the RCMP and SPCA are investigating the slaughter in pursuit of animal cruelty complaints. 

  While there is nothing that will bring back these animals, it is always horrifying to hear of intelligent beings disposed of like trash. Dogs do not exist for our abuse; they aren't a product. They are curious, perceptive, and eager to please, which is why Huskies are the dog of choice. If you wouldn't go to a harness race, if greyhounding repulses you, so should commercial dog sledding. These are not Inuit who treat their dogs like family, but profiteers who see excess dogs as a nuisance. While the tour operators may have preferred to have seen the dogs adopted out, it was just more cost-effective to shoot and bury them than to feed them and transport them to good homes. 

  When people talked about the Olympic stains on Canada, they discussed the relocation of the homeless; they protested Aboriginal land rights being violated; they voiced the human victims of the Olympic ambitions of Vancouver and Whistler. But they forgot about the helpless victims that look a lot like your best friend. 

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