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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

War grave experts exhume bodies of 100 sled dogs killed by tour operator in post Winter Olympics massacre

By Daily Mail Reporter

-'Vet told owner' to cull huskies after business dropped
-Killer 'in a haze', covered in blood and suffered trauma
-Dogs 'wrestled to the ground and stood on'

Mass grave: Scientists have had to wait until the winter's ice has completely thawed before investigating the husky deaths

A team of war grave experts have exhumed the remains of 100 sled dogs who were killed by a tour operator in a post Winter Olympics massacre.

The specialists, who have dug up graves in Rwanda and Iraq, will dig for the huskies near to the ski resort Whistler, Canada, at a cost of £142,000 ($225,000CAD).

In one of the world's biggest ever animal cruelty cases, the dogs are believed to have been shot and knifed to death by a company employee following the Winter Games, which was held at nearby Vancouver.

The incident took place last April at Howling Dog Tours where tourists paid around £200 ($315CAD) for a three-hour, two-person sled ride through the valleys surrounding the town.

Each sled was towed by six dogs each, but the company found it had too many animals when bookings fell following the end of the Winter Olympics in February last year.

The killings came to light when the employee who carried out the cull was given compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder.

By the end of the slaughter the man - who said he was told to cull 100 of the 300 dogs after a local vet refused to destroy healthy animals, and he could not find new homes for them - was said to be killing dogs 'in a haze' and was covered in blood.

Cull: After the Winter Games Howling Dog Tours were told that 100 of 300 dogs were no longer needed - but that the vet would not assist

Scene of the crime: A sled dog rests at a kennel operated by Whistler Outdoor Adventures, who bought out Howling Dog Tours

The dogs were shot or had their throats slit, while those that proved hard to kill had to be 'wrestled to the ground and stood on' before they could be shot in the head.

Investigators have taken the unprecedented step and enlisted the team of forensic scientists, anthropologists and veterinarians for the dig.

With the ground now thawed after winter the mass grave specialists, including some involved in investigating Canadian serial prostitute killer Robert Pickton, will start by clearing the site today.

The forensic experts' past experiences also include the study of mass graves in Guatemala, Bosnia and Kosovo, Sri Lanka, East Timor and Afghanistan.

They will be looking for any evidence such as bone fragments, shell casings and knives that proved the dogs experienced pain and suffering before they were killed - findings that will be key if criminal charges are to be laid in the case.

Marcie Moriarty from the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said: 'This is one of the largest and most complex investigations the BC SPCA has ever undertaken.

Ski resort: The mass dog death took place near the slopes of Whistler

Empty: Kennels, once used by the killed dogs, make the gave site

source: dailymail


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