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Iditarod: Life off the Trail Also Hellish for Dogs

Written by PETA | February 27, 2013

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 three dead 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.

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  • debra says:

    What is wrong with the world today? So many sick people. They can’t tell me this is humane.

  • Guerevitz says:

    Stop this barbaric”sport”…..

  • ADRIANA says:

    stop this cruelty

  • Rachel VanDinter says:

    Let them free

  • Diane Beelman says:

    I’ve always hated this so called “sport”! Horrible treatment to the dogs. Stop, stop, stop!!!!

  • carrie smith says:

    I love my dog like he is one of my kids .. He is family and I treat him like family … I just cry for the dogs that are treated like this ..

  • SHERYL LONG says:

    I’ve always wondered about their well being. GO FIGURE! Is ANYBODY sick of this sh*t yet and ready to make ALL animal abuse/neglect/cruelty a FELONY!!!? TELL CONGRESS!!!!!!!

  • swizzle says:

    disgust. should be illegal. animal cruelty

  • Lily H. says:

    Shame on those who support this cruelty. We have to do more than sharing this on Facebook.What can we do to end this???

  • Rebecca says:

    Thank you for telling us, I had no idea this was going on.

  • elena b. says:

    Let them free.

  • ANA GABRIELA says:

    Por favor paren con este maltrato a los animales .Con que derecho los privan de sus derechos a la libertad y al alimento. Que pare esa masacre y crueldad oque lesgustaria que a ustedes les hagan lo mismo???

  • Jo Ardell says:

    End Iditarod End cruelty to Dogs

  • saint etienne vregord says:

    Stop the madness to dogs, you have lost forstanden.Min sister and her husband have six sled dogs, they are treated with kindness. Beasts like you must be stopped, such evil treatment against led dogs will be tolerated :(

  • Misty says:

    This is discusting people who do not treat animals how they want to be treated should not take the animal on .KARMA!!!!

  • Martina Buhl says:

    Unpleasant /There is nothing horrific what the person cannot think up ! (Tears & Fury)

  • Eeshan Beohar says:

    pathetic.. PETA, please help them

  • Jaime Collura says:

    This horrible sport needs to stop. This is animal abuse and for them to be disposed in such a disgusting way. It’s appalling!

  • Noda says:

    What can we do to help the innocent animals from these un-hearted humans, have a conscious!

  • Hilary says:

    This is horrible how can people be so cruel and heartless.

  • Siobhan says:

    This is disgusting and cruel. All creatures deserve the right to live free of pain, fear and suffering.

  • DANIELLE says:

    Shameful! No living creature on Gods green earth should be treated so poorly. These people are disgusting.

  • Pamela McNeil says:

    Please show compassion for these dogs.

  • Tatia Shurgaia says:

    FREE THESE POOR INNOCENT DOGS. THEY WERE NOT BORN FOR YOU TO MISTREAT THEM AND USE THEM. THIS IS VERY VERY CRUEL. YOU WOULDN’T LAST A DAY LOCKED IN CAGES LIKE THAT. YOU WOULDN’T LAST A SINGLE SECOND CARRYING SOMEONE FOR FUN. ITS NOT FUN. YOU WOULDN’T LIKE IT, AND GUESS WHAT? NEITHER DO THEY. SO STOP THIS RIDICULOUS SPORT. NO SPORT SHOULD NEED AN ANIMAL. YOU DON’T GET EXERCISE LIKE THAT. ITS BASICALLY A LAZY SPORT. TOTALLY POINTLESS.

  • rashi says:

    please free them….

  • Upasana says:

    How do we help these poor animals?? Please suggest a route to get through to them and help them! Please, these innocent creatures have been man’s best friend for centuries. I want to help them.

  • Michelle Macy says:

    Animals need to be treated with dignity and respect, not used cruelly and selfishly for human “entertainment”.

  • jeanklatt says:

    any handlers of dog sleds from hell need to be put in cages and left in the elements. After suffering they should be put on the list with other animal abusers never to own or allowed to abuse other animals we must put a stop to all crual treatment of the precious animals.

  • Nayeli says:

    Free the dogs

  • Pinaypie says:

    People who doesn’t treat animal right are worst than stinking fish!

  • MURIEL SMITH says:

    Is there no end to the cruelty that our fellow animals have to endure at the hands of sick, cruel and greedy humans. When will we realize that Animals are not ours to use for our entertainment.

  • sayko says:

    someone who is inclined to support somethign like that can not be my friend nor family!

  • Lauren Bywater says:

    You cruel heartless bastards. Dogs have feelings, they feel pain, misery, hunger, coldness and this is what your subjecting them to. Imagine your family, kids, grandchildren in the same position, feel anger and upset by this? Good! This is how we feel and the pain the dogs are going through. If you have any kind of heart at all you will treat them better with love, compassion and kindness.

  • Bev Walther says:

    Sled Dog races to me always seemed horrible, but now after finding out how they are kept in between races is even worse. No dog deserves to be kept in that manner, and then least of all expected to perform the act that they are expected to do. These dogs should be given warmth, food, water and treated in the best possible way if they are to race in a lengthy race such as those. And even then, I still feel it is wrong, those races are far too long and torturous for the dogs, there is just too much danger that they have to face.

  • gabriela lins says:

    animals deserve respect!

  • Casey E says:

    Please give these wonderful animals a better life

  • amy nguyen says:

    Can’t treat the dogs like that. Let them free. Whoever treat the dogs like that should go to the hell.

  • polly yuhas says:

    to all of you sick bastards….stop this practice immediately! you love your animals??? you all make me ill. I vote to abandon you all and watch you freeze to death. SICK!!!!

  • lpjewels says:

    Please use human volunteers instead.

  • neharika says:

    This is insane!! They have no rights to treat them this way…send the dogs to some good families..they do not deserve such treatment…if these people do not know how to treat them then they have no rights to keep them.may such people die a terrible death.i pity the poor dogs.please do something.

  • Hani Lee says:

    Let them free

  • Erikson Sá Bezerra da Silva says:

    Eles têm direito à vida e merecem respeito! Não devem ser tratados como objetos de uso, jamais! Eles são seres inocentes e indefesos. Eles merecem a liberdade!

  • Anette Breidebach says:

    Schluss mit dieser Tierquälerei. ! ! !

  • MH says:

    All sled dogs are not mistreated and unhappy. All the sled dogs I met were eager to run, were happy to be handled even if they did not go running that time. On meeting them the first time they where friendly, did not feel threatened by me walking to them strait ahead with a shovel to clean their patch. Feeding time was nice because they where very welcomming and accepting a pat and a hug. Getting them to the sled was hard work because they are so happy and eager to run. You have to hold them very close to you on their rear feet . To get them in the harness you have to hold them close and they are to your face level ; never did I feel I had a twitchy dog or a dog ready to growl in my hands. The dogs were happy. When you work with these dogs you constantly presenting your hands and face. “Dangerous” you could reckon. A unhappy dog has the funny look that makes you think “I am staying away from this dog”. A stressed dog will not let a stranger approch if he is on a tether and can not back off. He will growl or bite has you go past him. I never felt this with the 100 or so dogs I met in Alaska. They lived outdoors all year round. Each had a collar, a tether and it’s wooden box with straw and a small patch. They were fed daily with warm food. We also scooped ther poops away from them. Older dogs are sometimes lucky to be adopted as home pets and live a nice life indoors on the soffa…

  • PHYLLIS DICARLO says:

    THIS IS ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING! LETS PLEASE START SENDING LETTERS TO WHOEVER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS MISTREATMENT AND WHO HAS THE POWER TO STOP IT.

  • Dr Janell Beck says:

    I have felt this race is the most cruel and inhumane treatment of an animal and only for the pleasure of someone who has no respect for the life of the poor dogs. What is the purpose of this race? To see how horrible and tortuous one can be? It is crazy

  • katelynn says:

    mushers should start treating there dogs better it is not the dogs fault

  • Sandra Storino says:

    Please stop the horrific abusive treatment of dogs for your amusement and profit. SHAME ON ANY ONE THAT WOULD TREAT AN ANIMAL IN THAT WAY. If you loke it so much pull the sled yourself

  • lisa says:

    How can musher’s leave dogs that cant make the race chained and found frozen to death?? dogs left to starbe to death?? if a pup is slow cant keep up one comment i read when i start training dogs in the fall anything that cant keep up go’s to the happy hunting ground,at age 4months they put on chain, “When a dog in your team looks back, and looks back, and keeps looking back, the whole team knows that dog is looking back, and pretty soon the rest of the dogs are looking back. So it’s best to discard that one.” As a new handler with about two weeks of experience, walking through the dog lot with the main handler, I pointed to a dog and said, ‘That’s a funny looking dog.’ I found the dog shot, still at his house on his chain.” Just a few comments made from mushers i found on on net yes they love their dogs soo much this is how they treat them.

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