When we discussed the first dog to die during the 2009 Iditarod, I mentioned that more were likely to follow. Now, at the end of the race, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that this year’s death toll stands at six.
Six dogs. Dead.
And for what? A belt buckle. A long shot at some money, a pickup truck, and a few endorsement deals. I suppose they think that they’re covering themselves in glory, too, but it looks more like blood to me.
Consider this: Two of the dogs may have frozen to death in the punishing weather. Two others died with fluid in their lungs. The most recently reported death apparently happened during a turbulent plane flight after the “musher” gave up. Even the generally Iditarod-supportive Anchorage Daily News called the number of deaths—only five, at the time—”troubling,” but that misses the point: Even one dog dead is too many, and it is unacceptable that the dogs who survive are run to exhaustion or injury, only to be stuck back on a chain until the next race.
To paraphrase a classic cartoon, we say it’s cruelty, and we say the hell with it. PETA has asked the Alaska State Troopers to open a criminal investigation into the deaths of these dogs in the Iditarod. We’ll keep you posted on any major developments. In the meantime, even though this year’s event has mercifully ended, it’s not too late to tell the 2009 Iditarod sponsors to make this the last year that they contribute to dogs’ deaths.
Written by Jeff Mackey