Tag Archives: Iditarod

🗻The Iditarod is True March Madness!🗻

By Jennifer O’Connor

Boycott the cruelty! photos: PETA

Running a marathon and finishing it is a remarkable accomplishment. But imagine running four marathons a day for 10 days straight. Throw in biting winds, blinding snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures. Unfathomable, isn’t it? Yet that’s exactly what dogs used in the Iditarod are forced to endure. Many don’t make it to the finish line alive.

No records were kept of dog deaths in the Iditarod’s early days, but the Anchorage Daily News reported that “as many as 34 dogs died in the first two races.” Since then, at least 116 more have died during the events. The number of those who die during training or while chained outside is impossible to estimate. Kennel operators and breeders aren’t required to report how many dogs die at their facilities. Before last year’s race even began, multiple dogs were injured and one was killed during training.

So many exploiters of the beautiful husky dogs!

Even the most energetic dog wouldn’t choose to run 100 miles a day while pulling a heavy sled through some of the worst conditions on the planet. Along the 1,000-mile route, dogs’ feet are torn apart by ice and rocks. Many pull muscles, incur stress fractures or become sick with diarrhea, dehydration, intestinal viruses or bleeding stomach ulcers. Aspiration pneumonia—which can develop after dogs inhale their own vomit—is the number one cause of death on the trail. Rule 42 of the official Iditarod rules says that some deaths may be considered “unpreventable.”

Mushers have tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana. Dogs have tested positive for opioids.

Mushers appear to be oblivious to the misery the dogs endure. Last year’s winner shared a disturbing video during the race of dogs covered in snow and ice in the blistering wind with, as he described it, their faces “totally entrenched in snow” and their eyes “all frozen shut.” One musher lamented that chipping frozen urine off the dogs’ penises was an unpleasant but necessary task. While dogs pull and pull, mushers can ride and sleep. Mushers have tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana. Dogs have tested positive for opioids.

Life off the trail is equally grim. The vast majority of dogs spend their seemingly interminable days tethered on short chains with only barrels or dilapidated doghouses for shelter. Most kennels are never inspected by any regulatory agency. Dogs who aren’t fast runners or who simply can’t run for days on end are discarded like defective equipment. Dogs used in sledding have been shot, bludgeoned to death or abandoned to starve, or their throats have been slit.

Urge sponsors to abandon the race!

The Iditarod isn’t about honoring Alaskan culture or tradition. It’s about money and unearned bragging rights. How can anyone justly take pride in an event that causes so much suffering and death?

Iditarod Forced to Cut 2018 Prize Amounts After Outrage Over Deadly 2017 Race

Jett is a lot like his distant cousins! pic: R.T.



Iditarod Forced to Cut 2018 Prize Amounts After Outrage Over Deadly 2017 Race

By Katherine Sullivan

Five dogs died in less than a week during the 2017 Iditarod.

After PETA contacted State Farm, Guggenheim Partners, and Wells Fargo and our supporters wrote to the companies, they ended their sponsorship of the Iditarod shortly after the race concluded in March.

This summer also saw the release of Sled Dogs — a documentary by director Fern Levitt — which exposed the ugly behind-the-scenes cruelty in the dog-sledding industry.

So it comes as no surprise that only a few months later, organizers of the cruel race have announced numerous budget cuts — including cutting next year’s purse by $250,000.

According to Iditarod CEO Stan Hooley, the Iditarod has depleted its reserves and is attempting to rebuild its savings through the budget cuts. In addition to cutting the deadly race’s prize winnings by roughly 30 percent, he said that its communications budget will see a 17 percent reduction. Cuts will also be made to compensation as well as checkpoint supplies and operations.

Forget Budget Cuts — It’s Time to Cut the Whole Iditarod

Although this recent announcement is a welcome sign of changing public sentiment against the use (and abuse) of animals for cheap human entertainment, it’s not enough.

The Iditarod Trail Committee may be suffering from financial hardship, but it’s nothing compared to the pain, agony, and even death endured by the dogs forced to race.

photo: SLED DOGS

You can find out more about the ways in which dogs suffer for the Iditarod by checking out SLED DOGS.

What You Can Do

Dogs deserve far better than a lifetime of cruelty and suffering — and even death — just to train for and run in the Iditarod.

This is how sled dogs were warehoused for 40+ years in the mountains of Colorado.

PETA and compassionate people everywhere are calling for a permanent end to this dangerous, deadly race, and you can, too. You can help these dogs by asking corporate sponsors to drop the deadly Iditarod. Already, numerous companies have severed ties with the abusive race, but a handful — including Coca-Cola — continue to sponsor it.

Photo of a dog chained up at a facility run by Joe Redington Jr., the son of Iditarod’s founder Joe Redington.



Encourage the Iditarod Trail Committee and the mayors of Anchorage and Nome — the start and end of the race, respectively — to celebrate Alaskan huskies and protect them from suffering and death by replacing them with willing human cyclists, cross-country skiers, or snowmobilers.



Every pup deserves a loving home!

The Iditarod is truly March madness

Jett is half Siberian Husky and hates the snow! “Mush” is anathema to this little guy!

By Jennifer O’Connor

Running a marathon is a physically grueling feat — one that most of us don’t even attempt. For those who do and finish, it’s considered a remarkable accomplishment.

So try to imagine running four marathons in a single day, and throw in biting winds, treacherous terrain and freezing temperatures.

Then do it all over again for eight more days.

That’s exactly what the dogs used in the Iditarod are forced to do.

Since 1995, the top finishers have covered the approximately 1,000-mile course in nine days or fewer, including one mandatory 24-hour stop.

This means that dogs run more than 100 miles a day while pulling sleds weighing hundreds of pounds through some of the harshest weather conditions on the planet.

Temperatures have plummeted to 60 degrees below zero. Mushers revel in taking the credit for finishing the race, even though they ride, eat and sleep while the dogs burn 12,000 calories a day and do all the work.

Sports writer Jon Saraceno, who coined the term “Ihurtadog,” calls the race “frenzied lunacy.”

Although death records were not kept in the early days, we do know that 26 dogs used in the Iditarod have died just since 2004. Rule 42 of the official Iditarod rules says that some deaths may be considered “unpreventable.”

The animals have been run over by snowmobiles or died of pneumonia after inhaling their own vomit.

Countless dogs suffer from diarrhea, dehydration, intestinal viruses or bleeding stomach ulcers. In referring to the Iditarod, veterinarian Barbara Hodges said, “The race would violate animal cruelty laws … in 38 states and the District of Columbia. Of course, Alaska has no such law.”

Many dogs are routinely given antacids to try to prevent gastric ulcers. A veterinarian who studied the race’s effects on the animals found that exercise-induced stomach disease may affect 50 to 70 percent of the dogs who enter, a number significantly higher than is seen in non-racing dogs.

Dogs with ulcers typically show no symptoms until the condition becomes life-threatening and they start to bleed internally and vomit, which may cause them to choke and die.

Life off the trail is equally grim.

Most kennels keep dozens of dogs, who live on short chains with only overturned barrels or dilapidated doghouses for shelter, their world extending no farther than their 6-foot tether. And slow runners are doomed. As sports columnist Jeff Jacobs wrote, “The cruelty is in the vast distance. The cruelty is in some training techniques that would turn your stomach. This doesn’t begin to address some manuals that recommend killing dogs that don’t cut the mustard. They call it culling. Really, it’s murder.”  There’s no requirement to report how many dogs are “culled,” so the death toll is unknown.

Although organizers attempt to put a historic spin on the race, winning the Iditarod is all about bragging rights and the cash and truck awarded as prizes. Gambling with animals’ lives is ethically indefensible.

From bear-baiting to cockfighting, many activities once considered acceptable have since been condemned as we learn more about the suffering endured by all living beings when exploited for entertainment. Dogs deserve to be part of a family, not treated like snowmobiles with fur.

Our schools should give the Iditarod a failing grade


Half Huskie and maybe part coy-dog Jett seconds this emotion! 

By Gemma Vaughan

Good teachers try to bring vitality into their classrooms by using real-life examples to enhance what’s in the curriculum. But just as no conscientious educator would take kids to a strip club for a lesson on “the birds and the bees,” no class should romanticize the Iditarod by “adopting” a musher. The Iditarod is an event in which dogs routinely suffer and some even lose their lives. Schools should teach children to denounce cruelty to animals, not glorify it.

The Iditarod is a life-and-death contest—but only for the four-legged participants. The dogs in this race are forced to run more than 100 miles per day on average. They are subjected to biting winds, blinding snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures, and they risk falling through treacherous ice into frigid water. Their feet can become cut, bruised and worn by the vast distances of frozen terrain they must cover. Even though the race can take up to two weeks, the official rules require that the dogs be allowed only 40 hours of rest—in total. Most states have laws that prohibit overdriving or overworking animals—but Alaska does not.

Many dogs pull muscles, incur stress fractures or become sick with diarrhea, dehydration, intestinal viruses or bleeding stomach ulcers. Dogs have been strangled by tow lines and trampled by moose; some have succumbed to hypothermia. The official Iditarod rules blithely dismiss some deaths as “unpreventable.”

At least 23 dogs have died in Iditarod races since 2004, including 3-year-old Kate, who was allegedly beaten and kicked by her musher because she sat down and refused to get up; Thong, a 3-year-old male, who apparently died of acute pneumonia; and Snickers, a 6-year-old female who died from an acute hemorrhage caused by a gastric ulcer. In the 2013 race, a dog named Dorado suffocated after being buried in snow, and a dog named May was lost on the trail and missing for a week.

Having children follow the Iditarod can’t rightly even be spun as a history lesson, since today’s cruel race bears no resemblance to the original event that inspired it―an emergency delivery of diphtheria serum. Very few participants are indigenous Alaskans. Winning the Iditarod is all about bragging rights and the cash and truck awarded as prizes.

Kids who care about animals would be devastated to learn that many dogs used to race or haul sleds are killed if breeders think they won’t be fast enough. And for the ones who do make the cut, life is often grim. They don’t spend their days snuggled up on the couch or going to the dog park to play; typically, they live on short chains and have only ramshackle pens or overturned barrels for shelter. Some have been abandoned to starve to death and were later found frozen to the ground. Backyard breeders of these dogs are not inspected by any regulatory agency.

“Adopting” an Iditarod musher may seem like an easy and harmless classroom activity, but teachers would be remiss to take the Iditarod’s promotional materials at face value. Schoolchildren should not be encouraged to become emotionally invested in this cruel tradition, and educators shouldn’t risk imparting the message that running dogs to death is acceptable.

There’s no reason for students and teachers to champion an Iditarod musher, and there are plenty of reasons to teach children about the very real cruelty associated with this race.

Because I have a Husky mix and Huskies are incredible dogs

Me and my Husky mix, Jett, whom I adore!

This race needs to be stopped – from the fab folks at PETA. – R. T.

Iditarod: Life off the trail also hellish for dogs

By Jeff Mackey

The 2013 Iditarod dogsled race is approaching, and it has been preceded by a string of canine deaths in other races, illustrating yet again why PETA works to stop this miserable “sport,” which can be grueling and even deadly for the animals forced to pull heavy loads over long distances at high speeds, often in extreme weather conditions.

But what you might not know is that the dogs used for pulling sleds live miserable lives off the trail, too. When they aren’t pulling heavy sleds, they’re often tethered by short chains to plastic doghouses or ramshackle sheds, living on small patches of dirt amid their own urine and feces. Chained dogs are at the mercy of the elements and susceptible to attacks by dangerous wildlife. Recently, for instance, a pack of chained dogs used for pulling sleds in Alaska was attacked by a musk ox.

Many dog-sledding operators shamelessly admit that, to them, dogs are little more than disposable “equipment” and are often denied adequate food, shelter, veterinary care, and even humane euthanasia. The following are just a few examples:

  • In April 2010, 100 dogs had their throats slit or were shot when a sled operator no longer needed them.
  • In 2009, 100 dogs were found emaciated, chained, and near death in Québec, Canada, and threedead dogs who had been used for sledding were found chained to stakes and frozen to the ground in Canada’s Northwest Territory.
  • In April 2008, a Montana dog-sledding operator pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals after abandoning 33 chained dogs and allowing them to starve.
  • In May 2006, authorities in British Columbia seized 51 emaciated, dehydrated, and sick dogs from a kennel that provided dogs for sledding.
    • In 2005, Krabloonik Kennels in Colorado—the largest dog-sledding operation in the continental U.S.—generated a considerable public outcry when its manager admitted that dogs who didn’t “work out” were killed by a gunshot to the head and dumped into a waste pit. Krabloonik’s manager shrugged off the killings, saying, “[Culling dates] back hundreds of years. This is nothing new. … This is part of the circle of life for the dog-sled dog.”

What You Can Do

Like our adored animal companions, dogs used for pulling sleds are highly social pack animals who need to be part of a family, not treated like snowmobiles with fur. Please help them by sharing the above photo on Facebook and Twitter—especially with any friends or family members who might be inclined to support the cruel and deadly Iditarod.



Injuries Abound

After being forced to run an average of 100 miles a day for two weeks, many dogs will be suffering from conditions such as pneumonia, hypothermia, bruised and lacerated paws, upper respiratory infections, frostbite, inflamed wrists, and shoulder injuries. Nearly 150 dogs have died during the Iditarod since records started being kept, and that doesn’t include dogs who died after the race was over. Some dogs die of “sled dog myopathy”—literally being run to death.

dweeklycc by 2.0

Mushers Admit the Truth

Although they won’t call it what it is—cruel—even mushers admit that the dogs suffer. During last year’s race, top contender Hans Gatt reported that half his team was “sick and eating poorly,” likely because of upper respiratory infections. Four-time champion Lance Mackey said that he didn’t know what was wrong with his dogs but that he had watched his “world-class dog team falling apart before my very eyes.” Paul Gebhardt had to forfeit the race when his dogs couldn’t continue because of dehydration, cramps, and injuries. And Zoya DeNure had to perform mouth-to-snout resuscitation on one of her dogs, who had collapsed in his harness.

Sponsorships Dwindle

So why do mushers continue to subject their dogs to the abuse of the Iditarod? Because thousands of dollars in cash and prizes are at stake. But the good news is that the purse is dwindling as corporations withdraw their sponsorship after learning about the Iditarod’s cruelty. Last year, thanks largely to PETA, the Transportation Security Administration pulled the plug on its $85,000 donation, and Chevron and Cabela’s both called it quits prior to 2010’s race.

Please share this with friends and family who may not realize how much dogs suffer for the Iditarod.




Dog sledding races: the suffering begins before the starting line

By Jennifer O’Connor

People everywhere were rightfully outraged by a recent report that 100 dogs were shot or had their throats cut when business waned at a British Columbia, Canada, sledding operation. But this was no isolated incident. Dogs who are used to pull sleds—including those in the upcoming Iditarod—routinely pay with their lives.

Dogs used in the Iditarod, its cousin the Yukon Quest or one of the commercial operations catering to tourists live and often die at the end of a chain. All over Alaska and Canada, dogs spend their nonworking hours tethered by short chains to metal barrels or ramshackle wooden boxes, living, eating and sleeping amid their own urine and feces. The hobbled-together “houses” offer little protection from the elements. Water buckets are frequently frozen or tipped over. The dogs are fed scraps and slop and may never see a veterinarian in their lifetime.

The Iditarod plays a big part in this cruel cycle. Countless dogs are bred every year in the quest to produce a “good” runner. Those deemed fast enough face a lifetime of toil in the harshest of conditions. Those found lacking are doomed. There have been many cases in which dogs have been abandoned and left to starve. Dead dogs have been found chained and frozen to the ground. Continue reading Dog sledding races: the suffering begins before the starting line

Racing dogs to death

By Jennifer O’Connor

People everywhere watched in awe recently as Olympic athletes skied for miles, skated for hours and performed amazing physical feats. But even gold medal winners wouldn’t be equal to what the dogs in the Iditarod will be forced to do in the next few weeks.

There’s nothing sporting about an event in which animals routinely die, as they do in the Iditarod. One dog has already collapsed and died from gastric ulcers during this year’s “Junior Iditarod,” a test run for young mushers. It’s time for this grueling race to be relegated to Alaska’s history books.

The Iditarod’s 1,150-mile course means that dogs run more than 100 miles a day for almost two weeks straight. They must pull heavy sleds through some of the worst weather conditions on the planet.

The dogs’ feet are torn apart by ice and rocks. Many dogs pull muscles, get stress fractures or suffer from diarrhea, dehydration, intestinal viruses or bleeding stomach ulcers.

Mushers ride, eat and sleep while the dogs pull. One musher admitted to smoking pot. The official Iditarod rules only require that the dogs be provided a total of 40 hours of rest—even though the race can take up to two weeks. Many dogs don’t survive. Rule 42 of the official Iditarod rules says that some deaths may be considered “unpreventable.” Continue reading Racing dogs to death