Sled dogs culled 'cruelly' when tour bookings fell

About 100 sled dogs were killed inhumanely and dumped in a mass grave when a tour operator's bookings dropped sharply after the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The event came to light this week after the worker who carried out the cull won compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder. Documents related to the case state that the dogs were shot or had their throats slit in front of one another, with some dying slowly and painfully.

Marcie Moriarty, of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in British Columbia, said the incident left her sickened and called it an "absolutely criminal code offence". The SPCA and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating.

The documents reveal that bookings for dog-sled tours collapsed after the Olympics, and when a company could not find homes for its animals, it ordered the cull, which was carried out over two days last April.

The name of the employee of Outdoor Adventures Whistler who killed the dogs has not been disclosed, but his lawyer, Cory Steinberg, told the local CKNW radio station yesterday that it was "the worst experience [the man] could ever have imagined".

"He was essentially told to figure out a way to make [the business] more cost-effective. They just had to have less dogs. So he did everything he could – finding homes for them, having them adopted, every which way that he could," Mr Steinberg said.

Ms Moriarty, who has read some of the confidential documents related to the compensation award, said: "There aren't words to really describe some of the ways these dogs died. Slaughterhouses have very strict rules for how supposed culling takes place. This violated every one of them."

Graham Aldcroft, for Outdoor Adventures Whistler, said the company had had a financial stake in another firm, Howling Dogs, for four years, for which operational control was with the worker referred to in the claim documents.

"While we were aware of the relocation and euthanisation of dogs at Howling Dog Tours, we were completely unaware of the details of the incident until reading the document on Sunday," he said.