Written 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.
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
What You Can Do
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
Written by Michelle Kretzer
Soon, Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
mushers will begin driving dogs on a grueling 1,150-mile journey through frozen
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.
dweekly | cc by 2.0
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
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
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
Written by PETA
next time you hit a mall owned by Simon Property Group, you'll probably find plenty of shoes, sweaters,
and giant pretzels—but what you won't find are whips and chains. That's because after meeting with PETA and
hearing from countless concerned shoppers who responded to our action alert,
largest real estate company in the country—has banned all exotic-animal exhibits at all of its properties. For enacting
this lifesaving policy, Simon has been given a PETA Proggy Award ("proggy"
stands for "progress") for Best Animal-Friendly Real Estate Company.
you've been to a local mall, chances are pretty good that it's a Simon
property, since the S&P 500 corporation owns more malls in the U.S. than
any other company. Simon's new policy means that exhibitors such as Carson & Barnes that haul elephants and tigers around
in trucks from one parking lot to the next will have to set up shop
elsewhere—or, hopefully, nowhere. Expanding on the company's compassion
footprint, earlier this year, Simon demanded that the Iditarod remove its name as a sponsor of the deadly race.
thank CEO David Simon for making the right decision and let
him know that you'll be sure to shop at Simon malls.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
Update: The British Columbia SPCA has issued a gut-wrenching report about finding the decomposing bodies of the approximately 100 dogs who were dumped in shallow graves after being stabbed and shot at a failing dog-sledding operation. Read more here.
A company that operates dogsled tours of Whistler, British Columbia, reportedly killed 100 dogs last year when business slowed after the Vancouver Olympics. The killings came to light after an employee of Outdoor Adventures Whistler filed a claim for compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder that he says he suffered as a result of being told to shoot dozens of dogs or cut their throats and then dump them in a mass grave. The British Columbia SPCA is investigating and calling for a criminal investigation.
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. Mushers routinely abandon, shoot, bludgeon, or drown dogs when they become ill, don't run fast enough, or are simply unwanted. In 2005, it was revealed that the largest dogsled tour operation in the U.S., Krabloonik Kennel in Aspen, Colorado, was shooting and killing as many as 35 dogs every year. A Krabloonik employee defended the killings, saying, "This is part of the circle of life for the dog-sled dog."
The deaths of these dogs serve as a tragic reminder never to patronize dogsled tour operations. With the Iditarod coming up, be sure to tell everyone you know about the cruelty inherent in dogsledding.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
Just weeks after we told you about the slaughter of 100 dogs by a dogsled tour operator in British Columbia, 14 dogs used to pull sleds near Southend, Saskatchewan, have been killed after one of the dogs, who had been temporarily let off her tether, attacked a 4-year-old boy. The boy was hospitalized, and the dog was subsequently hit by a car and killed. The 13 other dogs were shot by their owner for reasons that remain unclear.
When they aren't pulling sleds, most dogs used to pull sleds are kept tethered on short ropes or chains or confined to small pens. They are deprived of everything that is natural and important to dogs, such as exercise, mental stimulation, and companionship. Not surprisingly, dogs kept in such conditions often develop psychological problems—knowing they have no means of escape, they become intensely fearful of anyone who approaches, even a small child, and resort to "fighting" (i.e., biting), since flight is not an option.
This tragedy serves as yet another reminder never to patronize any dogsled races or rides, and if you see a company promoting dogsled rides, explain that it will not get your business as long as it promotes cruelty to dogs.
Following the gruesome killing of 100 dogs used to give sled tours in Whistler, British Columbia, a Canadian government task force wants to set new guidelines for the dogsledding industry and toughen up cruelty-to-animals laws. It's not a moment too soon!
US Mission Canada/cc by 2.0
An employee of dogsled company Outdoor Adventures Whistler says he was made to shoot or cut the throats of the dogs when the demand for dogsled rides dropped after the Vancouver Olympics in the spring of 2010. The huge public outcry prompted the Canadian government to investigate the incident and the dogsled industry's animal welfare standards—or lack thereof.
Heading up the task force is Dr. Terry Lake, who said, "I don't like the word cull. I think that means you are killing a bunch of animals you don't need. I think that is unacceptable and our recommendations will reflect that."
Speaking of dog abuse, the first person to cross the finish line in the Iditarod broke the previous record by three hours. Somehow, the fact that dogs are being forced to work harder and harder every year doesn't seem like reason to celebrate. So far, at least one dog in the race has collapsed and had to be resuscitated.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
From coast to coast, cities are hosting alternatives to the cruel Iditarod—which began yesterday and will cause dogs to suffer and some even to die over the next two weeks. But in these entertaining events, no dogs will be paying with their lives. Check 'em out:
pattista/cc by 2.0
Let the "real" Iditarod sponsors know that until they pull their support from this cruel race, you won't be patronizing their businesses―you'll be supporting one of these cool and cruelty-free races instead.
Yesterday—the day after President Obama released his proposed 2012 budget cuts—PETA dashed off a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, pointing out a desperately needed cut to the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) budget: its $100,000 sponsorship of the 2011 Iditarod. Less than 24 hours later, we have received word that the TSA would withdraw its support of this cruel event.
We were scratching our heads over how forcing dogs to slog through more than 1,000 miles of snow and ice in roughly two weeks in any way aided transportation security, but the TSA says the money was part of an effort to recruit airport security screeners … which still has us scratching our heads …
Anyway, after learning from PETA that 20 Iditarod dogs have died since 2005—often from hypothermia, bleeding stomach ulcers, or "sled dog myopathy" (literally being run to death)—the TSA hustled to distance itself from Alaska's annual husky massacre.
A sled dog lot from 2010 Iditarod. jkbrooks85/cc by2.0
Tail-waggingly good call, TSA. And if you still need help recruiting airport screeners, we're really good at coming up with catchy ad campaigns.
Written by Alisa Mullins
Sometimes it breaks our hearts to say, "We told you so." It's less than a week into the 1,150-mile-long doggie death march known as the Iditarod, and abuser musher Justin Savidis has already reported one of his dogs, 3-year-old Whitey, missing.
Whitey has been loose since Wednesday, and although he's been spotted on a number of occasions, temperatures along the Iditarod course remain below zero, and there is no guarantee that Whitey will find shelter or food.
Even if Whitey survives his escape, when you consider the dark history of the bloody race, his future still looks pretty grim. On average, dogs in the Iditarod run at least 100 miles each day with very brief rests, and only half the dogs who begin the race ever make it to the finish line. Many are injured or killed as a result of the physical torment of the Iditarod—some of them fall through the ice or suffer from bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and viruses, while others are strangled by tow lines, trampled by moose, or hit by snowmobiles and sleds. Whitey's disappearance marks the beginning of this year's sub-zero suffering, but it's not too late to end it: Urge the Iditarod's sponsors to back out of the barbaric competition immediately.
Written by Logan Scherer
This year's Iditarod doesn't start until tomorrow, and one dog has already died. The death occurred during the Junior Iditarod, a 150-mile race that's open to teens aged 14–17. A necropsy found that the dog, a 5-year-old male named Lava, died of gastric ulcers, an all-too-common cause of death for dogs in the Iditarod.
According to a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, more than half the dogs who finish the Iditarod have gastric ulcers, which the study's authors believe are caused by "sustained strenuous exercise." Dogs suffering from ulcers may bleed or choke to death after regurgitating and then inhaling their own vomit. Poor Lava didn't deserve that—no dog does.
Bear in mind that the Junior Iditarod is only about one-eighth the distance of the daddy Iditarod, which is a grueling 1,150 miles. That's roughly the same as the distance between New York City and St. Petersburg, Florida—and the fastest teams are forced to cover all that ground in less than two weeks. Dogs often run more than 100 miles a day—the equivalent of four marathons back to back—with little rest. (The official race rules require that dogs only be given a total of 40 hours' rest during the entire race, which can add up to less than 3 or 4 hours a day.)
We're not talking about a jog through Central Park, here. Dogs in the Iditarod have to battle blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, and falls through treacherous ice into frigid water. Their feet become bruised, bloodied, cut by ice and rocks, and just plain worn out because of the vast distances they cover. Many dogs pull muscles, tendons, and ligaments, rupture discs, incur stress fractures, and become sick with bloody diarrhea, dehydration, intestinal viruses, or the aforementioned bleeding stomach ulcers. Dogs have been strangled by tow lines, trampled by moose, and hit by snowmobiles and sleds. Two of the six dogs who died in last year's race are believed to have frozen to death.
Nearly 150 dogs have died in the Iditarod since records started being kept (a tally that doesn't include dogs who die in training or after the race ends). On average, more than half the dogs who start the race don't make it across the finish line, and 81 percent of those who do finish have lung damage, according to a report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Is there a small light at the end of this dark Alaskan tunnel? To paraphrase Sarah Palin, former mayor of Wasilla—home of the Iditarod's headquarters—you betcha. The purse for the winners of this year's race is down roughly $52,000 from last year because several former sponsors, such as Chevron and Cabela's, have dropped their support. You can help by writing to ExxonMobil and the Iditarod's other remaining sponsors and asking them to stop paying mushers to run dogs to death.
Written by Alisa Mullins
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.