Whistler's Joey Houssian reached out to local media on Wednesday (Feb. 2), calling for "patience" as the investigation into the alleged mass killing of sled dogs unfolds.
Houssian, owner of Outdoor Adventures Whistler, which is under investigation by the SPCA following a Worksafe B.C. report outlining a horrific scene of slaughter, told The Question that he wanted to reach out to his local community. He declined to be interviewed by phone under the advice of lawyers, but responded to some questions by email.
"Like everyone we were shocked and horrified when we learned of the details in the WCB document last week," he wrote on Wednesday.
"Myself and members of our company are part of this community and we know that we will get through this difficult time.
"We would ask that everyone be patient as the details of this incident and investigation emerge."
The story outlined in the Worksafe B.C. report, dated Jan. 25, outlining what's been described as the "execution" of about 100 sled dogs on April 21 and 23, 2010, has received worldwide media attention since Monday (Jan. 31). An investigation led by the SPCA is underway into the account outlined in the report, which was provided by the general manager of a local dogsled tour company.
Meanwhile, officials at the SPCA were busy Wednesday refuting a media report that they were asked to take some of the operation's dogs before the mass killing.
"It's ludicrous… it's absolutely false," said SPCA spokesperson Lorie Chortyk on Wednesday.
"At no time did they ask for assistance re-homing dogs."
Houssian said he doesn't know if the details in the Worksafe B.C. report are factual.
"Our own investigations suggest it may not be, but further investigation is required," he wrote.
Nobody from Outdoor Adventures authorized or signed the report filed with Worksafe B.C., contrary to what's been reported in the media, Houssian added. He repeated the claim that he and other Outdoor Adventures staff members only learned of the shocking allegations last week.
"It was our understanding that a number of older, un-adoptable and sick dogs would need to be euthanized in a humane manner," he wrote.
"We also knew that we had found homes for many other healthy dogs throughout Canada — specifically B.C., Alberta and Ontario."
The report's graphic descriptions of healthy dogs being shot, having their throats slashed and being dumped into a mass grave in a remote area outside Whistler's municipal boundaries have caused shock, outrage and horror in the resort and beyond.
Whistler RCMP have confirmed that several threats have been made by email against "individuals and entities" in association with the reported killings.
"There's been some threats made… we're following up on that," said Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair on Tuesday (Feb. 1). "Those threats constitute a criminal offence."
In response to a request for comment on the reports that he and Outdoor Adventures staff members have received threats of violence and death, Houssian responded that he is "deeply concerned for the well-being of my staff and their families in the midst of this event."
"The reports in the media have understandably caused a lot of anxiety and emotion from people around the world, in our Whistler community and including the many families that work within our company," he wrote.
"I truly appreciate the massive outpouring of support, both inside and outside our community."
LeClair said none of the parties that have been threatened are currently under police protection. Officers discuss with complainants what precautions they can take if they feel there's a credible threat to their safety, but they have to provide their own precautions, he said.