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Letter to the Iditarod Trail Committee

Written by PETA | February 28, 2007

Iditarod.jpgDear Members of the Iditarod Trail Committee,

Every year, around this time, I start hearing about the vicious event you’re responsible for in which dogs are beaten and abused into running up to 125 miles a day without any rest. In the last two years, seven dogs have been killed by the Iditarod, through freezing, ulcers, or just plain exhaustion—and I’m certain that similar fates are in store for the animals whose suffering you’re arranging this year. Of course, these casualties are just the ones that are publicized—the dogs who are bludgeoned or drowned by mushers because they don’t measure up to Iditarod standards (or the ones who die alone in the tiny kennels they’re confined to for most of their lives) tend not to make it into the newspapers that report on your bloody proceedings.

I’m not surprised that, like so many people who profit from archaic and abusive customs, you defend yourselves by invoking “tradition,” but I can assure you that as more and more people learn that your tradition is one of cruelty, lies, and abject misery, it’s not one that’s going to be around for much longer.

If you’d like any more information about what PETA’s doing to ensure that these dogs’ misery doesn’t go undocumented, you can click here. We’re encouraging compassionate people everywhere to contact the sponsors of this event—Wells Fargo, Daimler-Chrysler, and Chevron—and let them know exactly what they’re supporting. I look forward to a time when your sadistic little race is a thing of the past.


Jack Shepherd

To be honest, I don’t think the Iditarod Trail Committee is going to be swayed by my letter, since it seems pretty clear that they’re not exactly dog-lovers, but the companies that continue to sponsor this event need to know why they shouldn’t. You can contact Wells Fargo here, Daimler-Chrysler here, and Chevron here.

Commenting is closed.
  • PETA says:

    Today’s Iditarod race is frivolous and gratuitous, and it bears no resemblance to the original event—an emergency delivery of diphtheria serum. Human participants – very few of whom are indigenous Alaskans – can choose whether or not to put themselves in danger for prize money; dogs die every year during and after the Iditarod, often of hyperthermia, gastric ulcers, or “sled dog myopathy”—literally being run to death.

  • Paul says:

    I have worked several check points as medical staff and I can only say PETA has no idea what they are speaking of. I have watched mushers just this side of hypothermic, severely sleep deprived and no doubt staving pull into a check point and before they even begin to think of themselves will feed, care for and bed their dogs down. Animals are cared for by some of the best Vets from around the world who volunteer their time; and if they think a dog isn’t well enough to continue, it is dropped…no questions asked. Maybe if PETA was just a bit less intolerant they might see this.

  • ali says:

    This is ridiculous. I have been a PETA supporter for a long time, but no more after their public display around the Iditarod. Mushers put their dogs lives before their own and if the person writing this article had ever been to a mushing camp they would understand this. I have never seen or heard of a sled dog being beaten and these dogs are doing what they are bred to do. If you saw the excitement in the dogs when they pull the sled you would understand. I am really disappointed in PETA for “standing up” against this time honored and wonderful tradition.

  • Musher says:

    I was a dog musher for 10 years and ran and finished the Iditarod. My firm belief is that people who think racing dogs is cruel are weak minded and assimilate their weakness to the dogs in the sport. The thing is, these dogs are incredibly tough. You may watch a person climb Everest and think “that is not something I would ever want to do”, but you probably don’t say “it should be illegal for people to climb Everest”. Now, if you talk to the person who has been there, they will most likely say “it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and yes, it was also one of the toughest things”. I feel the dogs who have run the Iditarod feel the same in their own dog way. Let me also say this. Any dog who has ran the Iditarod and the following year goes through training and finds him/her self at the starting line once again, knows damn well what is about to happen. And that dog is on his/her tugline, bouncing, yelping and smiling because they love it. I frankly think that PETA folks are either off their rocker or very out of touch.

  • Kelly Dickson says:

    I was born and raised in Alaska but now reside in California. The musher who lives half a mile away from my land in Alaska has totally destroyed the quality of life my family used to have there. No longer can we hear the loons that nest on the lake a half mile from our cabin. Now we only hear dogs barking 247 and he has plowed four trespassing trails across our land. How can someone who has no respect for other humans have any respect for animals?

  • Ann Webster says:

    I was raised in California and have always had dogs and cats that I adopted via dog rescue organizaitonsSPCA. I take in the older dogs that are near the end of their lives or are simply not adoptable for one reason or another. When PETA first came about I was young I am now 49 and I was very happy to hear what the mission was. I contributed and was planning on becoming a member. To this day the mission to stop the laboratory testing going on using innocent animals is a very valid one that I support. The reason I would not sign up as a member was the over the top comments made in the media on various occassions by leaders of PETA andor members when researched I found to be very inaccurate. I moved to Alaska four years ago when I married a man from the area who has never hunted or participated in sled dog races. I have found that the sled dog owners are some of the most dedicated dog owners I have ever met I spent time researching this for myself. The dogs truely love to run and are given rest very good medical exams play and love. There was a new driver two years ago caught kicking his dogs on the trail. He was removed and outsted from all future events and other races mostly due to the fact that the other drivers and dog lovers will not allow him near. That kind of thing is not tolerated by the drivers or supporters in the area. I must admit I held a belief for a long time that sled dog races were cruel. Hoever if you really look into it which PETA tends not to you will find that sled drivers are good and responsible dog owners. I hope someone at PETA cares enough about animals to be fair and not speak off the cuff again as it shows the lack of actually knowing something as fact vs. judgeing from the outside. The wasted time spent on the Iditarod race sled dogs could be put to use in better ways. Thank you for listening.

  • sweet-kn says:

    Sorry but what is mariburjeka? Jane.

  • Emma Bowden says:

    Barbaric is all I can think of. I never even knew this atrocity existed. And they say we live in a civilized society. What is wrong with these people allowing this to happen are they human at all? I just hope that what goes around comes around and they will get theirs one day. How people make animals suffer makes my blood boil. Keep up the good work PETA and thanks as always for your informative website

  • kim sumrall says:

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention…I sent letters to all three companies and will continue in my emails and letter writing until for all animals!

  • K says:

    Well done Jack! You have a great way with words as always. I’ll be learning more about this and definitely be firing off a few letters.

  • wendy lee says:

    THere should be a law against Iditarod’s cruel puppy mills and races. How would the sponsors or racers feel if they or their loved ones were forced to run till they dropped dead. Why are the racesponsors so cruel? Can’t they use their money to do good deeds? Being cruel to animals means being cruel to humans.

  • kelly says:

    Many people have their mortgages with Wells Fargo Good idea to write to CEO Richard Kovacevich with your account number and tell him how you feel about Wells Fargo spending YOUR money on dog abuse.

  • kelly says:

    The Iditarod is a sideshow act. It requires no human skill or intelligence About as athletic for the humans as sitting on a couch popping open a cold one And the “Iditarod puppy mills” are among the worst