Support is the best tribute to slain dogs

While incidents like the mass killing of sled dogs in Whistler are thankfully rare, the neglect of helpless animals is all too common

Aheart-breaking case that served to shine attention on animal cruelty around the world found closure in a tranquil setting just outside Penticton.

Several dozen mourners gathered at the B.C. SPCA pet cemetery in Penticton on Friday to pay their respects to 56 sled dogs who were killed in Whistler in April 2010. The dogs were shot or had their throats slit as a result of a drop in demand for sled dog tours following the 2010 Olympics.

The mass killing launched the largest animal cruelty investigation in B.C. SPCA history, with the former general manager of Howling Dog Tours pleading guilty to causing unnecessary pain and suffering to animals. Bob Fawcett will be sentenced later this month.

“We could not save you, but we could be your voice demanding justice for these unspeakable crimes,” the SPCA’s Marcie Moriarty said during the Penticton ceremony.

Although incidents like the mass killing are thankfully rare, the suffering and neglect of helpless animals is all too common. And it is these cases where our attention is most needed.

“It has opened our eyes to the lack of penalty there is for the abuse that happens to animals. We hope this case in particular will set things in motion to change things,” said Phil Jensen, an SPCA volunteer who travelled from his home in Chilliwack for the memorial service.

While Friday was a time to mourn the cruel fate suffered by those 56 dogs, now is the time to focus our efforts on bringing stricter penalties for those found guilty of abuse and pledging our support for programs that provide comfort to animals in distress.

Because it is that support that will be the greatest tribute we can give to those 56 dogs who have touched the hearts of so many of us.