NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C. — A man charged with the slaughter of more than 50 sled dogs near Whistler, B.C., two years ago has pleaded guilty to a charge of causing unnecessary pain and suffering to animals.

Sled dog operator Robert Fawcett entered his plea while standing next to his lawyer in a North Vancouver court, while outside, about a dozen animal rights advocates gathered, calling for a prison sentence for Fawcett.

Fifty six dogs were dug up in a mass grave near the 2010 Olympic Village after details of the cull leaked out through a post-traumatic stress disorder claim made by Fawcett through worker's compensation.

The compensation documents described a bloody scene of how the dogs were shot or had their throats slit before being dumped in the grave site.

The slaughter prompted the B.C. government to bring in tough new anti-cruelty laws to protect sled dogs, with penalties that include fines up to $75,000 and two years of prison time.

The Crown prosecutor has asked for a psychological assessment for Fawcett, who is expected to be sentenced in November.

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