Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Approved by WorkSafeBCTraumatized dog-sledder wins claim, but pleads guilty

Attention farmers, horse racers, veterinarians, butchers, and tourism operators: if you suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), you may successfully file a claim with an organization such as British Columbia’s WorkSafeBC.

But at what price?

Back in January 2011, the general manager for a Whistler, BC, dog-sledding company did just. When business waned after the nearby Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, the owners of Howling Dog Tours Whistler Inc. directed Robert Fawcett to “put down” the company’s “herd” of mostly-healthy dogs.

In the past, reported Fawcett in his disability claim hearing, he would lead an old, injured or ill dog into the forest; feed it a meat meal, and point a gun at its head.

But in the spring of 2010, he was required to kill almost 70 dogs within sight and smell of other dogs. He had to chase them, shoot them, and—in some cases—slit their throats. Some dogs required multiple shots because they attempted to crawl out of their mass grave.

The scene is a grisly one to hear described, and we can only imagine the horror Fawcett experienced as—one-by-one—he exterminated animals that he had lovingly raised from pups.

Claim became a media frenzy

In a WorkSafeBC review decision, the unfortunate details of Fawcett’s disturbing experience are itemized as a part of his disability claim due to PTSD. His claim was approved, but the seven-page report quickly gained the attention of international media for months to follow.

This week, Fawcett is in the news again. After the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals investigated the dogs’ grave, they pressed charges against the traumatized Fawcett. He pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to animals.

Coincidentally, in January 2012, WorkSafeBC published related research on PTSD. The report describes PTSD as “…a clinical condition that may develop following exposure to a traumatic event” and continues that “PTSD can be triggered by traumatic workplace events including robbery, assault, or injury. “

At first pass it’s easy to condemn Fawcett, but like many disabling events, the causes and effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can be complex. If you work with animals and other living creatures, even more so.

If you have been denied a disability claim due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, get a second opinion. For a free lawyer referral, call toll-free at 1-855-843-9729.

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