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Canadian musher pleads guilty to post-Olympics sled-dog slaughter

Alaska Dispatch

Robert Fawcett plead guilty to charges of animal-cruelty in association with the slaughter and disposal of over 50 sled dogs during the winter of 2011, after the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

According to The Canadian Press (via The Province), Fawcett, a former sled-dog operator for Howling Dog Tours, plead guilty in Canadian court Thursday. He faced a charge of "causing unnecessary pain and suffering" to the animals he was tending to, and could face up to five years in prison and up to $75,000 in fines.

In May of 2011 the remains of 56 sled dogs were found buried in a mass grave near Howling Dog Tour's property in Whistler, British Columbia. Prior to the discovery, Fawcett had filed for worker's compensation claiming "post-traumatic stress-disorder" as a result of being "ordered" to kill the sled dogs. Fawcett made a worker's compensation claim for PTSD which alerted authorities.

According to The Province, "The claim suggested the dogs were killed to cull the sled-dog pack after the post-Winter Olympic slump in tour sales." Howling Dog Tours denies Fawcett's claims.

Fawcett's sentencing will not take place until mid-November. Neil MacKenzie, a court spokesperson, told The Globe and Mail that a psychologist has been called in to provide the court with "a better understanding of what took place."

For more visit The Province here or the the Globe and Mail here.