3 years probation for BC sled dog slaughter

Robert Fawcett leaves the B.C provincial court after pleading guilty to a single count of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

Credits: REUTERS/Ben Nelms


VANCOUVER -- Robert Fawcett won’t be serving any jail time for the slaughter of nine sled dogs during a cull two years ago that saw 54 canines later exhumed from a mass grave in Whistler, B.C.

A B.C. provincial court judge ordered Fawcett, the former Howling Dog Tours manager, to pay a $1,500 fine and serve three years probation.

Fawcett, 38, pleaded guilty to one charge of causing unnecessary pain and suffering in August. The maximum sentence for the offence is up to five years in jail and a maximum $75,000 in fines.

“A jail sentence would have sent a message to the public that animal cruelty is a serious crime that society will not tolerate,” the Vancouver Humane Society’s Peter Fricker said.

Crown attorney Nicole Gregoire said in court sensationalized media reports “demonized” Fawcett after he filed a worker’s compensation claim for post-traumatic stress disorder in 2011.

He killed the animals after a decline in business required culling the pack by 104 dogs, the court heard.
The autopsies concluded the nine animals put down inhumanely were either shot several times or had their throats slashed after Fawcett “wrestled” them down in April 2010.

One dog survived a bullet to the eye for 20 minutes before dying.

Reading from an agreed statement of facts, Gregoire told court the mass cull was the first time Fawcett had ever botched a euthanization, having done so previously with four animals at most.

Fawcett said in the statement he was very close to the animals, having worked at the touring company since 2000 and “everything that could go wrong went wrong” that day.

“By the time I was done, I was covered essentially from head to toe in blood,” he told a doctor afterward, adding he’s still struggling to regain his personality.

Gregoire said he’s shown “extreme remorse” and has since taken on a completely unrelated career.

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