A Canadian man pleaded guilty today to causing unnecessary pain and suffering to animals after he was ordered by his tour company to cull 56 sled dogs after the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Robert Fawcett’s sentencing is scheduled for November 22.
He faces as much as five years in prison, The Canadian Press reported.
Prosecutors laid charges against Fawcett after he filed a worker’s compensation claim for post-traumatic stress.
The British Columbia SPCA then found the dogs buried in a mass grave near the world-famous Whistler ski resort and the Olympic Village.
Fawcett will undergo a psychological assessment before the sentencing.
In his worker’s compensation claim, he detailed about how he had to shoot or slit the dogs’ throats before dumping them into the mass grave.
The company that owned the dogs, Outdoor Adventures Whistler, said it expected Fawcett to destroy the dogs in a humane fashion.
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The company denied it culled its herd of sled dogs after a drop in demand following the end of the 2010 Winter Games.
It said many of the dogs were old or sick, and that efforts to adopt them failed.
Fawcett’s compensation claim and the court case caused widespread calls for stiffer animal rights laws in the Canadian province.
Now, after government changes, BC can levy fines as high as $75,000 or two years in jail.
About a dozen animal activists chanted slogans and held signs outside the courthouse.
“We are hoping the judge will consider all of the lives he killed,” activist Ingrid Katzberg told The Globe and Mail. “He brutally killed 56 dogs. That's got to speak to somebody.”
Because of interest and security concerns, prosecutors moved the case to North Vancouver from the smaller center of Pemberton.
A BC SPCA representative said the guilty plea is a welcome relief.
“I don't have the luxury of having other constables to replace constables while they’re in court,” Marcie Moriarty told News 1130. “This will help us, in fact, save more animals because our constables can be on the road.”
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