The Iditarod has killed more than 150 dogs during its gruesome history, and the number of dogs who have died off the trail and during the off-season is unfathomable. During the race, hundreds of dogs are forced to run beyond their breaking point: Last year, nearly 250 dogs were pulled off the trail due to exhaustion, illness, or injury. Help PETA stop the Iditarod in its tracks.
Video of Iditarod Winner Dragging Exhausted Dogs
Update (March 17, 2023): Less than 24 hours after joining others in offering a reward, PETA received damning footage of the 2023 Iditarod winner, Ryan Redington, dragging his visibly exhausted dogs during the race.
The video shows the musher picking up and yanking his worn-out dogs into the race’s White Mountain checkpoint as they repeatedly try to lie down—actions that shocked even other mushers in the industry, some of whom have commented online that the Iditarod should prohibit dragging dogs out of checkpoints while others have called for Redington’s disqualification.
Approximately 175 dogs have been pulled off the trail so far due to exhaustion, illness, injury, or other causes, forcing the remaining ones to work even harder to pull the mushers. Redington finished the race with just six dogs.
As the end of the 2023 Iditarod approaches, it’s important to note that this year’s death race had the smallest number of mushers ever and that both the dog-free Iron Dog snowmobile race and the Iditarod Trail Invitational ultramarathon passed the Iditarod in sign-ups.
F1’s Deadly Ties to Dog-Sled Race Draw PETA’s Stock Purchase
Update (March 16, 2023): PETA became a shareholder in Formula One (F1) this week in order to push its owner, Liberty Media, to stop sponsoring the deadly Iditarod. Liberty subsidiary GCI, an Alaskan internet service provider, sponsors the notoriously cruel race with more than $250,000 every year. PETA is gearing up for F1’s next shareholder meeting, where we’ll point out that brilliant engineering and human skill, not cruelty to dogs, are what really rev fans’ engines.
After hearing from PETA supporters, nearly every other major sponsor—including Alaska Airlines, Chrysler, Coca-Cola, Jack Daniel’s, Wells Fargo, and ExxonMobil—cut ties with the Iditarod. F1 should know that racing must involve only willing human participants. Take action today to urge Liberty Media to drop its support of the death race and help dogs used for sled racing.
PETA Offers Reward for Footage of Iditarod Winner Yanking Dogs
Update (March 15, 2023): Following complaints from concerned viewers of the 2023 Iditarod, PETA is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for video footage of winner Ryan Redington reportedly dragging visibly exhausted dogs into and out of a race checkpoint. PETA’s reward is in addition to the $1,100 offered by concerned citizens and dog welfare advocacy group Humane Mushing.
Viewers of the Iditarod’s livestream reported to PETA that they had seen Redington pulling dogs to the White Mountain checkpoint as the seemingly worn-out team leader repeatedly tried to lie down. After only the minimum required rest period, Redington left the checkpoint, reportedly dragging five dogs and putting the sixth—who refused to move—in the sled basket. Redington had removed six dogs from the race at previous checkpoints—presumably because they were too exhausted, ill, or injured to continue—and he left two more behind at White Mountain. Iditarod rules require that at least five dogs be attached to a musher’s sled at the race’s finish.
PETA Dubs 2023 Iditarod Winner Ryan Redington a Real Loser
Update (March 14, 2023): Below, please find a statement from PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman in response to Ryan Redington’s winning the 2023 Iditarod today:
Crossing the Iditarod’s finish line first makes Ryan Redington this year’s biggest loser in PETA’s eyes. Eight dogs had to be pulled from the race after Redington pushed them beyond the breaking point, including Wildfire, who was predictably seen favoring the leg broken by the snowmobile that had hit him last year. Only six dogs were left to drag Redington to the finish, with reports that he yanked on and physically pulled the visibly exhausted dogs to the White Mountain checkpoint, and he’ll thank them all by chaining them back up outside like old bicycles at his kennel. The Iditarod needs to end, and with the race losing sponsors left and right, musher enrollment at an all-time low, and the Iron Dog snowmobile race and the human-powered Iditarod Trail Invitational growing in popularity, that end is coming.
Musher Falls Asleep, Loses Entire Dog Team
Update (March 13, 2023): Staying awake is one of the only things a musher needs to do while forcing dogs to pull them, but Eddie Burke Jr. fell asleep and fell off his sled. His dogs kept going and ran the remaining 18 miles to the checkpoint by themselves.
The list of dangers that the unaccompanied dogs could have faced is as long as the Iditarod trail itself: They could easily have gotten lost, found themselves in a snowmobile’s path (snowmobiles have killed dogs during prior races), or encountered a moose, among hundreds of other risks that could have caused injury or death. Burke needs to wake up to the fact that he put his dogs and himself in a very dangerous situation and be held accountable.
Last year’s winner, Brent Sass, reportedly dropped out of the race due to a bad cold and tooth pain, admitting that “[u]ltimately [he] couldn’t care for the dogs.” So far, more than 140 dogs have been pulled off the trail due to injury, illness, or exhaustion, and more will likely be taken off the trail soon, as rough conditions push more dogs past their breaking point.
More Than 50 Dogs Pulled From Race So Far
Update (March 9, 2023): Several dog teams made their way through a 75-mile stretch of the 1,000-mile race that Iditarod officials compared to a “washboard with 4-foot-high bumps.” Moguls, or tightly packed bumps of snow, are reportedly the worst they’ve ever been this year, making the 2023 Iditarod that much harder on the dogs forced to pull the sleds.
The winner of last year’s Iditarod, Brent Sass, pulled into the checkpoint with a dog named Marty, who reportedly had sustained an injury during the race, in his sled bag. “I’ve been carrying a lot of dogs—I carried this guy for 60 miles, so that was fun,” said Sass in an interview, seemingly oblivious to the irony of complaining about carrying one dog 60 miles while forcing dogs to pull him 1,000 miles.
Two other mushers, Kelly Maixner and Jessie Holmes, complained of their own ailments, ranging from backaches to bashed knees, but elaborated little on the condition of their dogs, beyond Maixner’s statement that “[t]hey’re a little, maybe, banged up.”
There are only 33 mushers in the Iditarod this year — the smallest amount of mushers EVER.
— PETA (@peta) March 6, 2023
Only 33 mushers are racing in the Iditarod this year—the smallest number ever—but more than 50 dogs have already been pulled from the race due to injury, illness, or exhaustion, and the race isn’t even halfway over. Last year, nearly 250 dogs were pulled off the trail during the race, so hundreds of dogs will likely still be forced to run beyond their breaking point before the end of the 2023 event.
The 2023 Iditarod’s Kick-Off Was Haunted by Dead ‘Dogs’
Update (March 6, 2023): PETA supporters were at all three of the 2023 Iditarod’s weekend events—the Mushers’ Banquet, the Ceremonial Start, and the Willow Re-Start—protesting and spreading awareness of the plight of the dogs used for the race. Armed with signs and accompanied by PETA “dogs,” who stood in coffins displaying the name and story of an actual dog who died during the race, our protesters ensured that no spectators could miss the fact that more than 150 dogs have died in the Iditarod to date.
No race is worth a dog’s life. Help us urge the few remaining sponsors of the event to do what’s right and best for the dogs by ending their support of the death race.
PETA’s Ad Blitz Is a Plea to Rescue Dogs Who Will Be Used in the 2023 Iditarod
Update (Feb. 16, 2023): As a plea to help end the use and suffering of dogs in the 2023 Iditarod and beyond, PETA launched a full-page appeal in top Alaska publications like the Anchorage Daily News and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. The ad, which shows a thin, freezing dog chained on property owned by notorious Iditarod musher Mitch Seavey, briefly explains the abuse that these dogs endure year-round and during the death race and calls for Alaskans to stop supporting it.
PETA is also hitting local radio stations with a 15-second alert from an Alaskan letting people know that dogs are kept chained to dilapidated boxes or plastic barrels in the bitter cold when they’re not forced to run the Iditarod. The spot will air until February 24 on seven major radio stations in Anchorage and Fairbanks.
The ad blitz will also land a message at Juneau International Airport during the lead-up to the race: “Adore Alaska. Hate the Iditarod.”
Dogs in the Iditarod are forced to run about four marathons a day for up to two weeks through extreme snow, ice, and wind. With PETA alerting more people and company sponsors to the number of dogs who have died during this 1,000-mile race, the Iditarod itself may soon be dead.
Originally published February 3, 2023
PETA Urges Alaska Governor to Stop the Death Race
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is settling into his second term, and ahead of the 2023 Iditarod, Anchorage resident Michelle Sinnott fired off a letter on behalf of PETA to the governor—who is known for his love of dogs—urging him to call for the permanent cancellation of the race.
Even the most enthusiastic human athlete wouldn’t run four marathons a day for up to two weeks in biting winds, blinding snowstorms, and subzero temperatures. The 1,000-mile race—which is driven by the lure of cash prizes and fame and has nothing to do with how the original Iditarod Trail was used—puts hundreds of dogs at risk of illness, injury, and death every year. We hope Dunleavy will use his influence to end this deadly race and help protect dogs used for sledding, as they deserve the same care and consideration that his animal companions—Mr. Tito, Blue, and Olive—enjoy.
There’s No Such Thing as a ‘Sled Dog’
“Sled dogs” don’t exist. Dogs used for sledding are just like the ones we share our homes with: They love to run and play, enjoy attention and affection, and have physical limits to what they can endure. But they rarely get to engage in their favorite activity—running—when they’re not being forced to pull sleds. During the off-season, dogs used for sledding are often chained up outside like bicycles in all weather conditions with nothing but inadequate plastic barrels or dilapidated wooden boxes for shelter. During the summer, they may get as little as one hour per month off their chains.
Dogs are loyal individuals who deserve a loving home, and none of them would ever choose to run to their death in the 1,000-mile Iditarod. If you’re planning a trip or cruise to Alaska, please don’t buy any packages or excursions that include dog-sled rides or visits to dog kennels.
Help PETA Reach the Finish Line: Urge Remaining Sponsors to Drop the 2023 Iditarod
After hearing from PETA and over 40,000 of our supporters, Cue Health made the compassionate decision to stop sponsoring the cruel Iditarod. Healthcare company Greenbrook TMS dropped its sponsorships ahead of the 2023 Iditarod after they heard from our supporters. Dozens of other companies—including Alaska Airlines, Chrysler, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, and Millennium Hotels and Resorts—have also cut ties with the race.
No race is worth a dog’s life. Help us urge the few remaining sponsors of the Iditarod to do what’s right and best for dogs by ending their support of the death race.