Editor’s Note: This news item is NOT for the faint of heart. It’s frankly heartbreaking on every level … we can’t imagine anyone having to make this choice ever. So please consider yourselves warned.
A lot of people find themselves faced with difficult choices about their dogs. Thankfully, few of us will ever face the situation that Marco Lavoie did while stranded in the Quebec wilderness. On the verge of starvation, Lavoie killed his beloved German Shepherd with a rock and ate him.
Lavoie’s heartbreaking decision was made only more poignant by the fact that the dog had already saved his life once on the trip. In July, he set out on a canoeing and hiking trip along the Nottaway River that was scheduled to last until Oct. 21. But early into the trip, a grizzly bear attacked his camp, destroying his food, canoe, and other gear. If his dog hadn’t driven the bear off, the bear probably would have killed Lavoie, too.
That attack left him without food or other supplies, alone in a very dangerous part of the Canadian wilderness. No one would miss him for another three months. And three days later, he killed the dog who had saved his life and lived off him.
As unthinkable as it might be to dog lovers, survival expert Andre-Francois Bourbeau says that eating the dog was the right choice.
“He survived because he made good decisions,” Bourbeau told the Daily Mail. “Eating his dog was one of them. You have to be desperate but there’s no shame in it. He had to use reason. Hunger squeezes you so much that you would accept food that’s not normally possible. You can crave slugs and bugs.”
But Bourbeau is talking about the decisions that Lavoie made after he was already in the wilderness, and after the bear destroyed his food and gear. It might be that his initial decision — to go on a trip into a notoriously harsh and dangerous section of Canadian wilderness alone — was reckless and ill-informed. The river itself is considered highly dangerous because of tricky currents and shallow depths. In addition, there’s few edible plants in the area, and Lavoie’s ankle was injured in the bear attack, making it difficult for him to explore or hunt.
Andre Diamond, who lives near the Nottaway River, says that he told Lavoie that the trip was a bad idea.
“He said it didn’t scare him, but it’s not a river to travel alone,” Diamond told the Daily Mail. “Other adventurers have gone there over 20, 30 years and never came back.”
Lavoie came very close to adding to that number. It took eight days for rescuers to find him after his family reported him missing, and even then, they had to hike a mile to get to him because the helicopter couldn’t safely land near his location. Lavoie had lost 90 pounds and was suffering from hypothermia and dehydration. He’s now recovering in a nearby hospital.
When he arrived, he was barely able to speak, but a spokesman for the hospital said that he was clear about one thing: “He is very ill and he can barely talk, but when our officers spoke to him in hospital the only thing he said was, ‘I want to get a new dog.'”
What are your thoughts? Should Lavoie have gone on such a long trip in dangerous wilderness alone? Should he have eaten his dog once he was facing starvation? Should he be allowed to get another dog?