A British Columbia musher and former sled-dog tour operator pleaded guilty to animal cruelty in a North Vancouver court Thursday for the slaughter of dozens of sled dogs near the resort town of Whistler in 2011. The Canadian Press reports that Robert Fawcett will be sentenced in November following a psychological assessment. He could receive up to five years in prison.
Fifty-six dogs were dug up in a mass grave in May 2011 after details of the cull leaked out four months earlier.
The information came from a post-traumatic stress-disorder claim made by Fawcett, the former general manager of Whistler-based Howling Dog Tours, through workers' compensation.
The claim suggested the dogs were killed to cull the sled-dog pack after a post-Winter Olympic slump in tour sales. The companies that employed the man, however, have denied such instructions.
A man calling himself Bob Fawcett also wrote on a PTSD website, describing a gruesome scene of how the dogs were shot or had their throats slit before being dumped in the grave.
The post claimed upwards of 100 dogs were slaughtered, although the B.C. SPCA said the investigation only ever turned up about half that number.
At the time of the slaughter, Fawcett was vice president of the Kenai-based sled dog welfare group Mush With PRIDE. Iditarod musher Karen Ramstead of Alberta, the group's president at the time, said he was being removed from his position.
Read more about Fawcett's plea from CP: Guilty plea in sled-dog slaughter