AROUND 100 huskies were slaughtered by a Canadian tourism business after it ran into financial difficulties following the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Some of the animals were left maimed and writhing in pain before being killed.
Police have now launched an investigation after details of the killings emerged in documents relating to compensation paid to an employee, who was ordered to cull the sled pack and claimed he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from having to shoot the animals.
The documents reveal bookings for dog-sled tours collapsed after the Olympics, and when the company, based in Whistler, British Columbia, could not find homes for the huskies, it ordered the cull. The dogs, which were part of a pack of 300, were shot over two days last April.
Marcie Moriarty, general manager of cruelty investigations for the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said the incident left her sickened and that is "was the worst investigation" she had yet taken part in.
Both the British Columbia SPCA and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating the killings.
Ms Moriarty said some of the dogs were shot in the head, but others clearly suffered and did not die instantly. She said documents describe the man not killing a dog with one shot and the animal running away badly disfigured and yelping in pain.
"He had to chase her and finish her off," Ms Moriarty said.
She said all the other dogs would have seen this happen. "There aren't words to really describe some of the ways these dogs died," she said. "We don't put cows down like that. Slaughterhouses have very strict rules for how supposed culling takes place. This violated every one of them."
An employee of Outdoor Adventures Whistler was awarded compensation in a ruling by WorkSafe BC, the provincial body that manages employee compensation claims.
Outdoor Adventures did not contest the man's compensation claims.
The WorkSafe documents are confidential, but Ms Moriarty saw them as part of the society's investigation.
They were initially obtained by radio station CKNW. The station reported the man was attacked at least twice by other dogs in the pack as he carried out the killings. The name of the man has not been released, but his lawyer, Cory Steinberg, told the radio station that it was "the worst experience he 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.
Graham Aldcroft, a spokesman for the company, said Outdoor Adventures had a financial stake in a firm called Howling Dogs in Whistler for four years, but operational control of Howling Dogs was with the worker referred to in 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," Mr Aldcroft said in the statement.