The race began March 7 and goes on for weeks. SO brutal on the dogs who are owned by unscrupulous mushers! Many die, many suffer, pushed beyond their physical limits. – Rose T.
Here are eight reasons why the Iditarod is a deadly nightmare for dogs forced to race.
😢1. Dog deaths in the Iditarod are so routine that the official rules call some of them an “Unpreventable Hazard.”
The Iditarod has killed more than 150 dogs since it began in 1973. Five died in 2017 alone. In just the last five years, dogs competing in the event have died from myriad causes, including being hit by a car, being struck by a snowmobile, being buried in snow, heart attacks, excessive fluid in the lungs, and acute aspiration pneumonia — caused by inhaling vomit.
😢2. If the dogs don’t die on the trail, they’re still left permanently scarred.
The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reported that more than 80 percent of the dogs who finish the Iditarod sustain persistent lung damage. A separate study in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine showed that dogs forced to take part in endurance racing had a 61% higher rate of stomach erosions or ulcers.
😢3. There’s no retirement plan.
￼Breeders of dogs used in sledding have freely admitted that “surplus” dogs are killed. They may be killed if they aren’t fast or fit enough for competition or if they don’t meet certain aesthetic standards — for example, if they have white paw pads. Dogs who finish the race but are no longer useful to the industry may be shot, drowned, or abandoned to starve.
😢4. Dogs pull mushers’ sleds up to 100 miles a day.
During the race, they’re expected to run approximately 1,000 miles in less than two weeks, and race rules mandate only 40 hours of rest over the entire span of the race. They’re prohibited from taking shelter during any part of the race, except for veterinary exams or treatment.
😢5. As many as half the dogs who start the Iditarod don’t finish.
￼Injured, sick, and exhausted dogs are often “dropped” at checkpoints, but event rules require that only dogs who started the race be allowed to finish, meaning that the remaining animals must work under even more grueling circumstances, pulling even more weight.
😢6. No dog would choose to run in this arctic nightmare.
￼Orthopedic injuries are the number one reason that dogs are “dropped” from the Iditarod — which makes it clear that no dog, regardless of breed, is capable of handling the grueling race on ice, through wind, snowstorms, and subzero temperatures. Even wearing booties, many incur bruised, cut, or swollen feet. They also suffer from bleeding stomach ulcers, pull or strain muscles, and sustain other injuries.
😢7. Thousands of dogs are bred each year for sled racing.
￼While only a few dozen dogs raised for the race will ultimately be deemed fit enough to compete, many more will be kept tethered and chained for most of their lives, some with nothing more than dilapidated plastic crates as their shelter.
😢8. Dogs at sled-dog breeding compounds have died of numerous ailments.
Some have frozen to death, while others have died of complications from eating rocks — presumably a result of the intense frustration of spending years on a chain.
Dogs Deserve Far Better Than a Lifetime of Isolation, Cruelty, Suffering, and Death on the Iditarod Trail!!!!