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Man pleads guilty to sled dog slaughter in North Vancouver court
A man charged in one of the most high-profile cases of animal cruelty in the country has pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary pain and suffering to animals.
Robert T. Fawcett entered his guilty plea in person before a North Vancouver Provincial courtroom packed with media and animal rights advocates eager to see if justice would be done.
Fawcett admitted to carrying out the mass slaughter of more than 50 sled dogs in Whistler in April 2010.
But those eager to hear Fawcett's fate would have to wait as the Crown asked that Fawcett undergo a psychological assessment to help determine the appropriate sentence for the crime.
That assessment is expected to take six to eight weeks and a sentencing hearing has been set for Nov. 22 in North Vancouver court.
Speaking to reporters and a half-dozen dog-lovers carrying signs condemning Fawcett outside the courthouse, Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie said that while the charge of animal cruelty carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, it's unusual in such cases that the perpetrator would see any jail time.
This, however, is not a typical case.
"The offence is not the killing of the animals per se," Mackenzie told reporters, specifying that it's the way in which they were killed that Fawcett is being held to account for.
Fawcett was the operator of Howling Dogs Tours Whistler, a sled-dog tour company which found itself financially over-extended in the post-2010 Olympics tourism lull.
Fawcett allegedly described shooting and stabbing at least 56 dogs in a WorkSafeBC claim for post-traumatic stress following the incident.
Those details led to international outcry from animal rights groups and even brought death threats against Fawcett. Those threats were cause for the trial to be moved from the provincial court in Pemberton to the more secure North Vancouver courthouse.