Diana and Ken McTavish show off their Malamutes Timber and Lady from Saltair.

Diana and Ken McTavish show off their Malamutes Timber and Lady from Saltair.

Animal legislation needs teeth: Dog rescuer

  • Feb. 5, 2011 8:00 p.m.

Matthew Peterson

The Chronicle

The world read in horror last week as news came to light about the killing of 100 huskies in Whistler.

The move was an apparent business decision by Howling Dog Tours Whistler and Outdoor Adventures Whistler when bookings dropped off after the Olympics.

And while sides point fingers about who made the decision and what attempts were made to get homes for the dogs, one local woman says hopefully the tragedy will bring to light more of these cases and drive some change.

Diana McTavish is part of the Alaskan Malamute Help League.

From her Saltair home, she and husband Ken have been taking in Malamutes, rehabilitating them and giving them a second chance at life.

McTavish said she is sorry the dogs had to die, but says there is a bigger picture people are not focussing on.

“The only illegal thing that happened at Whistler was the dogs were not killed humanely,” said McTavish, adding dogs are considered possessions under the law.

“Everybody closes their eyes to it.”

These kinds of cases happen all the time, said McTavish, who has heard through her network of dog rescuers that recently another 100 dogs were killed in Northern B.C.

This case McTavish thinks, has only received so much attention because of the ties to the Olympics.

However, McTavish said maybe this will finally open some eyes.

“Maybe the best thing that can come out of this is a change of legislation.

“The issue here is not just that 100 dogs. The real issue is all animals.”

McTavish noted a dog owner can chain their pet to a tree its whole life and the owner is not doing anything illegal.

While she deals with malamutes and the dogs in Whistler looked mostly like huskies, McTavish said the dogs should have been adoptable.

“Can they be re-homed? Yeah, they can, but you have to be willing to accept the fact that these dogs are not house dogs and have probably not been house broken.”

McTavish said she wishes rescue agencies were given the chance to help the dogs in Whistler.

While reports are surfacing the SPCA said they couldn’t take the dogs, McTavish noted it would be a tough job for the donation-run organization.

“They are underfunded and understaffed.

“One hundred dogs that have to be fed and housed. There is not a SPCA in the Lower Mainland that can take 100 dogs.”

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