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Sled-dog Slaughter Hits Aboriginal Community Hard

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The slaughter of 100 sled dogs in British Columbia after last year’s Olympic Games is causing outrage and has sparked an investigation, but for aboriginal groups the deed is especially painful. They have long held close relationships with the dogs that literally pull them through the winter.

“It was just sickening to hear about this,” said Louis De Jaeger, a member of the Chilliwack Métis Association, and a Siberian husky dog owner, to The Progress, a local newspaper. “We run for exercise and for fun.”

In a letter to the Chilliwack Times he wrote, “Dogsledding has been a part of Canadian culture for hundreds of years, a part of my Métis aboriginal heritage. These animals deserve the same respect they show us, and the culling comes post-2010 Olympics that featured all of the aboriginal peoples of Canada. This is an insult to a long-celebrated aboriginal tradition, a Canadian tradition.”

Meanwhile authorities and even the owner of the company, Outdoor Adventures at Whistler, were still trying to determine exactly what had happened. The cull, which took place in April 2010, became public in late January after the employee who executed the dogs sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We … have been working to piece together the facts so that I, and the rest of the world, can understand what actually happened surrounding the events of April 2010,” wrote Joey Houssian, president and owner of Outdoor Adventures at Whistler Ltd., the parent company of Howling Dog Tours Whistler Inc., whose employee shot and bludgeoned the dogs.

“Our understanding was that some old and sick dogs needed to be put down. Additionally, a number of healthy dogs were successfully adopted and given new homes throughout Canada,” he wrote in a letter to the Vancouver Sunon February 7. “I want to emphasize that the decision to euthanize dogs was not the result of a slowdown in business after the Olympics.”