Monday, January 31, 2011

We didn't know, honest! Don't think so, Outdoor Adventure...

From Canada News Wire:

VANCOUVER, Jan. 31 /CNW/ - Outdoor Adventures Whistler (OAW) only recently learned of tragic and regrettable events regarding a cull of animals at Howling Dog Tours Whistler Inc. (Howling Dogs) that are the subject of a WCB ruling issued last week. Contrary to media reports, OAW did not instruct the General Manager to carry out the cull in the manner described in the report.

OAW was aware of the relocation and euthanization of dogs at Howling Dogs in April 2010 but it was our expectation that it was done in a proper, legal and humane manner. We only learned otherwise on Friday, January 28 when we read the WCB ruling for the first time.

OAW is now investigating the matter.


While OAW has had a financial interest in Howling Dogs for 4 years the operational control of the company remained with the employee referred to in the WCB ruling who was the General Manager of Howling Dogs at the time of the incident. The employee in question in the ruling submitted both the employee report and the employer report to WCB.

Not long after the events of late April, the employee in question ceased managing the business. This employee continues to get our support as he heals from his injuries and illness. Because of the information in the WCB ruling pertaining to his emotional condition we don't feel it is appropriate to release further information about this individual.

In May 2010 Outdoor Adventures assumed operational control of Howling Dogs. With professional consultation and new leadership, Howling Dogs made significant changes to the business, the intention of which was to ensure humane treatment of our dogs and improved safety protocols of the operation. Measures included:

•Relocation and delivery of dogs throughout Canada. Approximately 75 of the most capable dogs were delivered across British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario to other operations. These dogs were given away for free and delivered at Howling Dog's expense.

•The neutering of all male dogs in the kennel to mitigate unwanted pregnancies and ultimately manage our population. This program was designed and implemented with our staff and our veterinarian in Whistler.

•Creation of an open-pen style kennel where dogs are not tethered or chained. Consulted with animal behavioral specialists and professionals to determine the best format and layout for this type of kennel. Currently 85% of our kennel has been transitioned with a goal of 100% transitioned before Summer 2011.

•It is now company policy that any dogs requiring euthanasia do so at our veterinarian's office. To this effect there are no firearms on our site.

We have hired a new manager for Howling Dogs who with the support of key operational staff at Outdoor Adventures is working to craft the finest dogsled operation in the world with the highest standards in the industry.

On December 1, 2010 our veterinarian conducted his bi-annual inspection of all dogs and kennel conditions and the summary of his report reads, "Overall, I am very pleased at the substantive improvements seen at the facility and have no concerns about the dogs' quality of life or for the care they are provided. Overall, this is a healthy and well cared for group of dogs."

For further information:

Media Contact:
Nancy McHarg
c 604 760 4366


So, they do not DENY that they KNEW about the "cull" - let's call a spade a spade, the mass killing of healthy dogs -

So answers please, Ms. McHart:OAW was aware of the relocation and euthanization of dogs at Howling Dogs in April 2010 but it was our expectation that it was done in a proper, legal and humane manner.

1.  From the press release, it seems obvious to me that OAW HAD in fact ordered/expected that 100 dogs were to be killed.  Surely it is management responsibility to ensure this is done in a humane and proper way.  Not that ANY mass killing of healthy dogs is acceptable, but at the very least, these dogs should not have suffered.  These dogs were ultimately YOUR responsibility. It was OAW that decided that business interests were paramount and dogs not being "used" to generate revenue were "excess".  Correct?

2.  So no argument it was YOUR employee? While OAW has had a financial interest in Howling Dogs for 4 years the operational control of the company remained with the employee referred to in the WCB ruling who was the General Manager of Howling Dogs at the time of the incident. If this individual (who you yourselves refer to as an EMPLOYEE) is OAW's responsibility, then surely the Company should be aware of past practices and methods used by this employee? If not, your Company remains negligent.

 3. Your "new" policies are somewhat after the fact.  Your website clearly indicates that outdoor adventures which involve live animals are part of your normal offerings. As such, WHY were these type of policies NOT in effect before?  These are humane, balanced ways of dealing with animals - can you explain what were the previous policies?  And if there were no written policies, why weren't there?

We'll see if she answers.

Bottom line is that a very active 'clean up' campaign in which the individual who IS in truth responsible for slaughtering these dogs in a horrific and inhumane way is the judas goat.  I do NOT exonerate this individual in any respect - he DID kill those dogs and in a horrific way - and THEN proceeded to profit from their pain and suffering by claiming "post-traumatic" stress.  That after having actually collected on his salary for the slaughter.  BUT, bottom line is the Company clearly DID decide they had too many dogs and wanted rid of them - because money, bottom line, profit was paramount.

Show me the instructions where you told this individual to find homes for these dogs.  Show me the missive which details possible rehoming methodology.  Produce the memo that talks about HUMANE euthanization given that ALL other possibilities were explored.

And tell me - just HOW long was the individual given to FIND homes for these dogs?  How much time was he promised and which funds were provided to enable him to ensure their safe and humane adoptions?  At a minimum, can you explain to me the amount of money promised by Head Office to ensure that qualified veterinarians could be found to humanely euthanize these dogs?

Provide some of that information and I may accede that you are not ENTIRELY at fault.

UPDATE: Whistler Horror - Slaughter of Sled Dogs

Thanks to Jan at Redstar for the update .. which is making me nauseous.  He not only shot the dogs in front of each other (I can only imagine the terror and panic experienced and with no way of running away as they were tethered)- he didn't even ensure they were DEAD... warning.. graphic language...

This is beyond horrific.

CBC's coverage here.

The Vancouver Sun here.

Metro here.  oh, and a spokeman for the company called it "tragic and regrettable".  DAMN right - I will just BET they are "regretting" it now that the world is finding out about this disgusting place.

And I am not only outraged at the company and the individual who actually carried out this slaughter, but that he GOT COMPENSATION FOR it.

There really is something wrong with this world.

CHARGE the company.  CHARGE the bastard that did this.  Take AWAY his "compensation".  And prosecute to the fullest (if pathetic) extent of the law.

This CANNOT and SHOULD NOT go unpunished!

BOYCOTT Outdoor Adventures Whistler - Slaughtered 100 dogs because it was "slow"

Unbelievable!! Here is the story, but in case the link doesn't work this is it:

100 sled dogs shot when B.C. tour business slows

WHISTLER, B.C.—An official of the SPCA in British Columbia says word of a slaughter of sled dogs in Whistler warrants a criminal investigation.

Marcie Moriarty, general manager of the group’s cruelty investigations, says the description of the April 2010 incident is an “absolutely criminal code offence,” although there is no indication a police investigation is underway.
Documents obtained by CKNW radio reveal about 100 healthy sled dogs were killed in a mass slaughter in Whistler last April 21 and 23.

According to the WorkSafe B.C. documents, an employee of Outdoor Adventures Whistler has been compensated for post-traumatic stress disorder after being ordered to shoot the animals.
The documents reveal bookings for dog sled tours collapsed after the Olympics and when the company could not find homes for its animals, it ordered the cull.

Outdoor Adventures Whistler did not contest the details in the WorkSafe documents except to indicate that the injured worker claimed to have killed 70 dogs, but 100 were actually destroyed
How could this happen?? Was an attempt even made to rehome the dogs? To find rescue groups?  And it's all very well the guy that slaughtered them gets compensation for "post-traumatic stress" - just MAYBE he should have contacted the BC SPCA before shooting those dogs!!  And just MAYBE he could have SAVED those dogs. 

This was, to my mind, a MORAL choice. I can think of no situation that would force me to do what this man did - not even the possible loss of my job.  The company is unequivocablly at fault here ; I wonder what pencil pusher "suit" in the boardroom decided that the bottom line necessitated the wholesale slaughter of healthy dogs  - but the actual individual who carried out those orders is equally at fault.  To say "I was following orders" has already been proven in war crimes courts to be a fallacious defence.

I am outraged, disgusted and furious - this company needs to be BOYCOTTED and be put out of business!

I have emailed the company to ascertain whether in fact it is THIS company that did this heinous deed - check out the website.  If so, then I STRONGLY urge EVERYONE to write to the company via their contact information and express your outrage and disgust.

I have done so and told them I will be actively seeking a boycott of their company as well as exposing to the best of my ability their outrageous solution to "excess" dogs.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.

Maya Angelou

Betrayed. Abandoned. Abused. and yet she hopes.

Perhaps one of the most astonishing charactertiscs about dogs are their endless ability to believe.  To come back from loss and betrayal, to find it in their great big hearts to believe yet again that THIS time, THIS time, the boundless faith and loyalty that lies at their soul will, THIS time, be recipricoated. Be appreciated. Be LOVED.

This 7 year old shepherd cross is understandably hesitant to trust yet trust she does - given time and patience she has shown that despite the hurt she has experienced over her life, you can see in her big dark eyes the ability and the will to love again. A favourite of the Toronto Humane Society dogwalkers, many of whom have known her (sadly) through her several other times at the THS, with the people she trusts, Venus blossoms.

Although a shepherd/lab x, Venus is all german shepherd in personality. Intensely loyal, incredibly committed and loving, shepherds are not kissy face clown labs, nor wiggling "love me" golden retrievers. They are intelligent, strong-willed and profoundly loving.  The right owner, with patience and understanding, would have in this beautiful dog a lifetime companion whose sweet personality would blossom once she internalized that THIS time was for keeps. She simply needs to believe that everything she offers would be embraced and repricrocated.  Venus desperately wants a leader and a guardian.

Because she grew up in unstable, insecure circumstances, Venus is sometimes a bit anxious around some strangers and dogs. She has worked hard to achieve confidence, having attended outside training classes with one of the THS volunteers, as well as receiving ongoing help from THS staff.  As a bonus, to help her settle and thrive in her new environment, Venus' new guardian will get free training/support for as long as needed from THS K9 department.

Venus is a healthy, young-at heart girl with many years ahead of her. She is energetic, playful and with the right person, so eager to please and to do well.

Dear Venus deserves a chance at a home of her own. Though well-loved at the Toronto Humane Society, well-cared for and cherished, she needs and deserves that someone special who will recognize and embrace the wonderful dog she is.
Where thou art, that is home.

Emily Dickinson
You can find Venus here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Some exellent thoughts from Brindle Stick

Brindle Stick has an EXCELLENT diatribe on the insanity here in Ontario where law-abiding citizens with innocent dogs are harassed, reviled and their dogs jailed while IDIOTS like the JERK that placed his german shepherd in a situation where she bit (seriously) several people apparently gets off scott-free. WHEN is this government going to grasp that dog breeds should not, CANNOT be arbitrarily labelled "vicious" or inclined to bite.  There is NO such breed as "pit bull" just a number of dog breeds that people decide are this mythical "evil, vicious people hating canine". 

I am also perplexed.

A year or so ago, when I arrived home, my son informed me that some strange guy opened BOTH our gates into the backyard (I have a two-gate system to ensure my dogs do NOT escape and to allow access to the side door without running into the dogs) and was wandering around checking out the house.  The dogs, thankfully, were INSIDE.  He confronted the guy who made up some story about being asked to give a quote on something or other - Declan told him to leave and literally had to insist. When I heard this, I called the cops (on the regular line) to report the incident. It was my understanding that is what you do in case there is some sort of neighbourhood scam going on.  I got this incredibly ignorant cop - rude, aggressive and unresponsive. I said in passing, "glad my dogs weren't out as that guy would be in ribbons"- and was then treated to a rave from this stupid cop about how I WAS LIABLE and maybe they should come over and check out my horrible dogs, that I wasn't "allowed" to keep dogs that would bite and that he seriously was considering calling Animal Control.


I was flabbergasted first for the unlooked for, unwarranted spew of nastiness from this cop and secondly, to find out (as I did after I hung up) that YES, if this SOB had entered my yard - my securely fenced, properly signed (BEWARE OF DOGS) yard, through not one, but TWO fences and were bitten by MY dogs who were protecting MY property - I could be charged?

How screwed up is that? And this guy has a dog who he carelessly, criminally leaves unleashed and bites a bunch of people and that's ok?

Get your priorities STRAIGHT government! As Brindle Stick points out - there is some seriously messed up thinking here.

"Bad dogs" do not "happen". Dogs are not born "bad".  Breeds are not "naturally inclined" to biting or violence.  BAD OWNERS ARE THE PROBLEM - deal with THEM.  It's called BEING RESPONSIBLE.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Class One and moving on....

Damn I like Sam's classes! While he is covering much the same territory as my course with him last year- it is really helpful to have it reaffirmed and explained; I find clarity and understanding are more complete when you've had a chance not only to hear but to experience the material.   I also look forward to attending the entire course - as my efforts to do so last year were aborted by the Terrible Accident.

Of course I was amused (embarrassed) as at certain times, the Darcyman was referred to as the Terrible Terrier, the Demon Dog, the Little Bastard (all of which are true, I can't deny it). - He, of course, put a lie to it all as both old and new class members (some of whom were more than familiar with Duke the Murdering Terrier of legend) waited apprehensively for the Awful Dog to appear, no doubt breathing fire and dripping poison. Who then trotted in insouciantly with his ears cocked, his tail waving like a banner and proceeded to act like a Perfect Puppy. While I am cognizant through harsh experience this state of affairs is fragile at best (and one can't help but speculate, planned to put his prey at ease and thus easily accessible), I was also ridiculously proud of the little bugger.

It was also reaffirmed that Darcy did in fact draw blood in the last course when he managed to clamp teeth into Sam's legs. Lucky for me, Sam admires "spirit" in a dog and loves to see "fire in the eyes" - the reality that there is a conflagration in Darcy's does not seem to dampen his enthusiasm in the least ...

Sam was (for Sam) relatively politic - I think, like Darcy, he is lulling those unfamiliar with his very large personality into a state of bovine calmness ... all the better to rile up when the time is right...

Some amazing dogs in the class - to someone who cohabits with dogs whose parentage, breeding and genetics are at best, questionable, some of the dogs were enviably beautiful and grounded. One young man brought this magnificent German Shepherd who apparently has Czechoslovakian roots. I love tidbits that Sam proffers - Czech dogs are apparently the most grounded, solid shepherds of all. Used pretty well exclusively for police and prison duty - they are bred exclusively for the "right temperament" - in this case, Sam explained, if beaten to a pulp and they STILL try to get up, then they are bred! It is actually really important to know the origins of your dog's genetics as intrinsic qualities bred over generations will dictate how the dog is best handled - and what the strong and weaker points of its nature reveal.

While learning hard facts on how to deal with dogs generally, I am always delighted with the vast knowledge Sam reveals as he works the dogs (and owners). He is like the Holy Grail of Dog Knowledge - and one of the most striking positives I find about this teaching are those "light bulb" moments when he suddenly and succinctly explains why a certain behaviour arises and how it is engendered.

German Shepherds are strongly represented in the class from the Czech shepherd, to a GORGEOUS long-haired guy called Dolby (suffers from extreme anxiety), a white shepherd (albeit more golden to my eye), a shepherd/hound puppy from the THS (Holly - a sweetheart of a dog - who rumour has it has created some issues with her "mouthing" - umm, puppies MOUTH - they just have to be redirected), a beautiful Newfoundland mix named Farley (also a THS dog) and Miller a highly strung boxer mix (also THS).  There is also an ADORABLE little chihuahua mix, a GORGEOUS, sweet natured grinning pit bull mix (god, I LOVE those dogs - NO ONE smiles like a pittie or is more affectionate, NO ONE), a stunning doberman whose frantic need to please means he is driving himself into an early grave with anxiety and more - all of whom I shall talk about at some point.

Kudos to all the people who attended.  It is easy to become discouraged and disheartened when you volunteer at a shelter and see the sheer number of people who through negligence and ignorance, destroy dogs then dump their problems into other laps.  To see the other side of the coin - people who are caring, committed and ready to make changes (which are HARD, damn it) - to ensure the best life for their dogs is wonderful.

A very BIG cheer to the THS volunteers who are attending not only for their own sakes but have sponsored (out of their own pockets) - some of the THS dogs in order to give them the BEST chance they will ever have to find their own forever homes- you guys ROCK.

Onward and upward ... now beginning the REAL nucleus of the training - will be spending many frosty moments with Darcyman and Llyr (who didn't go last night but WILL be attending but Doug was sick and I just couldn't handle two of them alone) going through their paces.

Reality is, people, there is no short cut. Training requires commitment, repetition and PATIENCE. Sam reiterates again and again, the MOST important part of the equation is PATIENCE ... we can spend our four or five hours with Sam every week but without the day to day follow through it is all a waste of money.

So, Darcyman, strap on your shoes, boyo - school is IN SESSION.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Whose the Dog

So this Sunday sees the beginning of a new session with trainer Sam Malatesta.  Sam breeds magnificant german shepherds, dogs whose behaviour is so exemplary that it is humilitating to even be in the same room as them with my own bad dogs!  It is sorta like a Before and After scenario - it's just I am not even in the ballpark with the "After" yet despite months and months of training... did I mention I am a bad owner?  Because Sam points out the issue is NOT the dog, but the OWNER.

The Toronto Humane Society has graciously allowed the course to take place on their premises.

Sam's methods are not to everyone's taste ... nor is he.  He is a self-confident (brash), opinionated (scathing), verbose (my, that man loves to talk!) and doesn't mince words (come with your flak jacket) or wrap things up in pretty packages.  The first session I had with Sam I went home both nights and cried with humiliation ... and returned the next morning, because DAMN that man knows what he's doing!  I am also comfortable enough with myself to accept that while straight talking can sting, ego can't get in the way of truth. 

And I LIKE him.  I'm ok with people telling me I've been doing everything wrong - that lifelong habits with dogs need to be reassessed and re-evaluated because damn, look at my dogs - they sure as hell aren't reflecting confident, serene behaviour!  Despite all the characteristics above, Sam is also charming, fiercely committed, honest and compassionate (he just doesn't like anyone knowing that!).

For me, the bottom line is that I believe implicitly that Sam has it right - and I have seen a lot of improvement in my dogs despite not being anywhere near where they should be.  Certainly Finn has benefitted immensely (granted, she is the least damaged of my dogs - all of whom are rescues and come with their own unique set of issues).

Sunday, Doug and I will be bringing Llyr and Darcy.  Llyr badly needs socializing (he was a backyard dog, relegated to infrequent visits and a lifetime (3 years) spent looking yearningly in at the life he was denied), he has aggressive tendences based not on a natural aggression but a deluded notion that he is the "dominant" (Sam says - and I concur - Llyr is NOT a natural dominant - merely pretending to be!).  He is also incredibly sweet, loving and a goofball.

And my Darcy Doodlebug?  This is it - this is his last chance - if he were a cat, his "9th" life.  Poor damaged, abused Darcy is a biter - and unless I can (a) control HIM in order to prevent the bites or (b) deal with his issues enough that he no longer bites, he is doomed.  I have spent 18 months doing my best to socialize him but he continues to be a loose cannon - unpredictable, aggressive and viscious - with most people.  He worships me, is immensely attached to Doug and adores Rowan - but even so, he has bitten Doug twice and the other day, for the first time, went for Rowan (I had him tethered as always so was able to stop him).  The stress this has caused is immense - and I cannot continue to risk friends, families and strangers.  I am praying to all the gods that with Sam's help we can do something for this dog - whose behaviour is no fault of his own but based on treatment meted out by humans.

Updates to come - no humiliation will be spared nor browbeating go unreported!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Flowers are yummy apparently...

 Apparently, Llyr thought the flowers would taste good and took a big chomp. They were sent to my daughter who is DEATHLY ill with mono (hasn't eaten in a week, can barely drink and was so ill she was in the hospital most of the weekend) by a very good friend of mine in New Brunswick.

 The two goofs ..  hoping for treats. Where are the treats they ask?  They very accusingly gave me zombie eyes and tried to intimidate me into feeding them.
Darcy-man and Finster - yes, the Darcy man is tethered. Do not let that innocent bug eyed face fool you - he is evil incarnate and lives to rip legs open...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

2 GSDs need loving home

Heard from a friend recently, that 2 GSDs lost their home recently in horrific circumstances.  That poor woman killed in Ancaster lived alone with the dogs before she horribly murdered.  These dogs are currently in the care of Hamilton Animal Services, Flamborough division.

I will try to find out more about them tomorrow but please spread the word.

UPDATE: got some excellent news today- these two dogs were adopted and are now in a loving home together.