Written by PETA
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
Many folks can't help shaking their hips to Kissin' Cousins, but when it comes to breeding imprisoned polar bears who share the same grandfather, you can be sure that our friends at PETA Germany will only be shaking their protest signs.
Here's the situation: Do you remember Knut? If not, you're not alone. A few years ago, there were several months when it seemed like everybody and his, er, cousin was talking about the Berlin Zoo's adorable baby polar bear. PETA Europe, in particular, protested the zoo's plan to hand-rear him. The baby was paraded for throngs of media and zoo visitors, but once he grew up, audiences' excitement and interest in the bear began to wane.
Well, now Knut is sharing his quarters with another polar bear named Giovanna, who is his cousin, and PETA Germany is calling for Knut to be castrated. To breed any polar bear in captivity perpetuates a life full of misery for animals who are roving predators with an instinct to roam and hunt. And in this situation, according to Frank Albrecht, an expert in captive animal welfare, if Knut and Giovanna were to have any offspring, it could threaten the genetic diversity of Germany's polar bear population, and the new bears could be susceptible to a condition known as "incest depression." (As if captive animals aren't depressed and frustrated enough already …)
Giovanna was moved to the problematic Berlin Zoo last year when construction work began on her own den in Munich. (Of course, the 64,000-Euro question is whether Giovanna will stay with Knut or be shuffled back to Munich.) There's no denying that Knut and Giovanna seem to enjoy each other's company, but allowing the two cousins to mate with each other (or with any other bears for that matter) would be irresponsible and cruel. Albrecht notes, "Knut fans need to know that only Knut's castration would allow a long life together with Giovanna."
So, tell us what you think:
Written by Karin Bennett
Compassion transcends age. Laura Moll—a 12-year-old vegetarian from New Delhi, India—is a role model to children and adults alike. The aspiring veterinarian volunteers at the Friendicoes Society for the Eradication of Cruelty to Animals, a local animal shelter, and records her efforts to help animals on her moving Web site.
Warning: The beautiful and poignant photographs of the many homeless animals who have touched Laura's heart—photographs that she hopes will encourage people to adopt these animals—just might move you to tears.
For her unwavering dedication to homeless animals, Laura has received PETA India's Hero to Animals Award and a card signed by PETA India staff members.
Whether you live in India or Kentucky—whether you are 9 years old or 86 years old—helping animals in your community is as easy as ABC.
Written by Logan Scherer
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
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
Follow PETA on Twitter!
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.