Bob Fawcett must be a very unhappy man right now. He is the man some media outlets from out east allege was behind the brutal killings of the one hundred or more sled dogs in B.C. last April.

This would make him possibly one of the most abhorred men in Canada right now judging by the comments in all the online papers which have printed the story of the shotgun slaughter. The Globe and Mail published an article yesterday called Post-Olympic slaughter of 70 sled dogs prompts rage, embarrassment (someone was "embarrassed" by this?). It gathered over 1500 comments.

1500 comments.

I can't remember too many articles which have caused so much outraged response. The vast majority of the comments want the man and the organization behind this bloodshed strung out to dry - and that's putting it politely. The Facebook comments are much less forgiving.

But, as reviled as the dog killer might be, there are some who defend him - meekly, of course, because they don't want to be trounced. While I haven't read anything, and I doubt I ever will, which would sway my opinion about the ethics behind these killings, they do bring up some relevant points.

Most who have been involved in dog welfare know that sled dogs are abused more often than the general public would like to think and that, for too many operators, the mistreatment of their dogs is part and parcel of running a profitable business. See here and here and here (for this last link, type "sled dog" into the search box) as a start.

In this portentous article published in "Whistler, The Magazine" almost two years ago, we get a glimpse of the treatment of sled dogs from two very different perspectives.

The casual observer, Patricia Watson wrote that she was “horrified” to see dogs that were “extremely underweight, had horrible diarrhoea and bleeding paws” when she took a tour booked through the Hilton in February.

The vet for the sled dog companies in the area defends the condition of the dogs. “It’s not a matter of the dogs not being offered enough food,” he said. “Some of the dogs look a lot thinner than they really are.”

How do dogs look a lot thinner than they really are? Are they wearing black?

It's ironic that this vet was the vet for a dog sled company headed by Bob Fawcett. Yes, that Bob Fawcett.

In the article, we learn that Fawcett is vice president of Mush With Pride, an organization that outlines standards for the care of sled dogs.

Do the standards for the care of sled dogs include the following points? (From the alleged dog killer's application for compensation due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder):


In war, soldiers are able to kill and kill again because they are living in a culture of violence which makes it acceptable, even necessarily to do such things. And here, a man is able to slaughter a hundred dogs because the culture he works in says it's acceptable, even necessary to do such a thing. A man slaughters a hundred dogs and yet becomes so allegedly distraught over his own acts that he seeks solace within an online PTSD group and applies for disability compensation. What does it say about the culture of dog sled tourism? Conflicted perhaps.

In Canada, most of us grow up with a respect for dogs, albeit to varying degrees. The idea of using them as a source of income doesn't always sit well with a lot of people especially if the business results in dogs suffering. But the public itself is conflicted in this. Puppy mills, for example, are generally disgusting places full of abused, even tortured animals and most people wouldn't tolerate such conditions for their own pets and yet a vast number of pet owners get their pets, directly or indirectly from puppy mills via pet stores, resellers on Kijiji, country flea markets or the guy who knows a guy who has some really cute puppies.

Dog sled tourism and, similarly, competitive dog sledding, also sit on that edge between what is publicly acceptable and what is not. I have to admit that the idea of being pulled around by a team of huskies has more than once crossed my mind as something I'd like to try doing some day. But while we, the public, are shown pictures of outdoor adventure and excitement with a fun loving pack of dogs, we are not usually privy to the lives, and deaths, of the dogs after they are taken out of the public eye.

Remember this incident?

There is too much neglect and abuse of sled dogs going on. Unfortunately, we usually only hear about it if it is on a large enough scale to make the news and even then, it's only if someone lets it slip out. What about all the lone dogs who have been shot because they sustained an injury while running or shot because they got a bit too old or shot because they weren't strong enough? I doubt we ever would have known about this most recent cull if the man responsible hadn't applied for disability.

This does not in any way deflect the responsibility of the parties involved in the terrible deaths of these one hundred exploited sled dogs but it is our collective responsibility to change, and if not change, then police, the cull culture which allows such monstrous acts to continue season after season.



8 Comments to “Cull culture”

  1. Brent says:

    Well thought out and well said.

    I think in many ways this reflects my opinions on a lot of different areas when it comes to working dogs. I have no problem with dogs working. Heck, most of them seem to love it. But usually the problems lie in the "cull culture" that too-often surrounds the acts of trying to breed dogs to be very good as specific tasks. Greyhound racing comes to mind. I'm not sure most people would have too much of a problem with running a bunch of dogs around a track as much as the disposable attitude toward the dogs that don't end up great at it. It seems very similar to this situation...

  2. Very good, thoughtful and well-written. The cull culture exists in and outside of shelters and pounds.

  3. Monica says:

    All I can think about when I read the little bit that I can stomach is the trauma & fear those helpless animals must have felt - it breaks my heart.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It's my guess that "Culling" is a very common practise for all businesses that treat animals as commodities. Pet stores cull their animals they can't sell. Breeders cull their animals they can't sell. Race tracks cull the slower horses(or dogs).Puppy Mills try to sell them before anyone notices so they don't have to cull(except for the breeding females).Irresponsible owners cull their pets by abandoning them. Over crowded shelters cull their numbers also. The only difference is this was made public.It happens all the time in secret.

  5. In the grand scheme, the cull culture exists for working dogs, sport dogs, mills and shelters.

    In Bob Fawcett's case, my guess is that this guy knew how to take a dog out back, give it a nice steak, and blow its brains out before it knew what was happening. Given the challenge put to him by OAW to get rid of 1/3 of the herd in two days, I think the guy just snapped. He didn't know how to say no and he didn't know how to deal with it other than stepping up his old school ways, which was a disaster waiting to happen.

    The BC SPCA understandably does not want every failed sled dog operation or puppy mill dumping hundreds of dogs on them - and if anyone does that, the dogs will be euthanized anyway - but it comes with the territory. That's another part of the cull mentality.

  6. Joanne says:

    Now Mr. Fawcett's story is the dogs were old and/or ill. If they were too ill to work, why was he still running them. If they were ill, why didn't the vet agree to treat them or, if not able to do so, put them down. The vet apparently said he refused to euthanize a healthy animal. If they were so old, why weren't they retired long ago. They just became istantly old overnight? More and more and more posterior covering and bull poop. It still comes back to Fawcett had done it before, done it to puppies, he continued this slaughter for two days. And then, having made a living off the backs of these dogs, betrayed them by cutting their throats and shooting them, once more tried to make a living off their now-dead backs with a WCB claim.

  7. Gina says:

    Hi all,
    If anyone is interested in taking a relatively easy action on this & signing a related petition-it can be found on the care2.com site-link:
    http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/prosecute-for-the-senseless-slaughter-of-100-sled-dogs/
    Maybe the best that can be hoped for from such cruelty & tragedy is that shining a light on it might keep it from ever happening again.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Joanne & I'm just sick from reading this. I don't care if he does have PTSD. I hope to God he does!, & nightmares so excruciating that he can't eat or sleep, that he is in a constant state of trama unable to stop reliving it over & over & over until he tortures himself to extreme. God forgive me, but what he did there is NO excuse for. NONE!!! Should he actually be compensated? NO!!! NO!!! NO!!! Let him starve to death. Let him sleep in a fricken box on the freezing cold street. Who the heck cares?!! I sure don't. PTSD!!!!! SO F*****G WHAT!!!!! A**H***!!!! I can't help it. I have NO sympathy for this piece of s**t!!

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A request

The reason for this blog is to help get specific dogs adopted from TAS but equally important is to try to normalize the idea of shelter dogs being just as good and just as desirable as any other dogs including those which are regularly merchandised by backyard breeders, puppy millers and those few remaining pet store owners who still feel a need to sell live animals. The single greatest stigma shelter animals still face is the belief that shelter animals are substandard animals. Anyone who has had enough experience with shelter animals knows this is untrue but the general public hasn't had the same experiences you've had. They see a nice dog photo in a glossy magazine and too many of them would never think of associating that dog with a dog from a shelter. After all, no one abandons perfectly good dogs, right? Unfortunately, as we all know, perfectly good dogs are abandoned all the time.

The public still too often associates shelter dogs with images of beat up, sick, dirty, severely traumatized animals and while we definitely sometimes see victims such as these, they are certainly not the majority and, regardless, even the most abused animals can very often be saved and made whole again.

Pound Dogs sometimes discusses the sad histories some of the dogs have suffered. For the most part, though, it tries to present the dogs not as victims but as great potential family members. The goal is to raise the profiles of animals in adoption centers so that a potential pet owner sees them as the best choice, not just as the charity choice.

So, here's the favour I'm asking. Whenever you see a dog picture on these pages you think is decent enough, I'd like you to consider sharing it on Facebook or any other social media sites you're using (I know many of you do this already and thank you for that). And when you share it, please mention that the dog in the photo is a shelter dog like so many other shelter dogs waiting for a home. If we can get even five percent of the pet buying public to see shelter dogs differently, to see how beautiful they are and how wonderful they are, and to consider shelter dogs as their first choice for a new family member, we can end the suffering of homeless pets in this country.
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