Every year, we brace ourselves for this predictable—yet avoidable—catastrophe, but it’s still upsetting. The first dog has been run to death in this year’s edition of the cruel and pointless Iditarod dogsled race: His name was Victor, and he was just 6 years old. Ominously, a Fox Sports article refers to Victor’s death as just “the first of this year’s race,” while an AP story reports that the unusually warm weather is taking a toll on the dogs. We already fear the worst for one dog who went missing after first-time Iditarod driver Nancy Yoshida crashed not one but two different sleds. (You can also click here to read a powerful op-ed ed by PETA staffer Jen O’Connor describing the unseen cruelty of the Iditarod.)
Can we finally put to rest the myth that dogsled racing is OK because the “dogs love to run”? Dogs don’t love to run until they collapse from exhaustion, choke on their own vomit, or get killed by a snow machine (as happened last year). That’s abuse, not “sport.”
It’s especially galling to me that I share a last name with the defending “champion,” Lance Mackey. I’d certainly leap at the chance to give him a piece of my mind at the Mackey family reunion. While that might not be possible, fortunately, there’s plenty that we can all do to help put an end to this annual nightmare for dogs.
For example, be on the lookout for any TV or radio programs that attempt to hide the cruelty that dogs endure during the Iditarod. A recent radio show with travel journalist Rick Steves failed to mention the suffering of the dogs, so perhaps you’d like to let Steves and his producers know what they missed?
Written by Jeff Mackey