2019 Iditarod Horror Stories, From PETA

For Immediate Release:
March 18, 2019

David Perle 202-483-7382

Nome, Alaska

With the Iditarod race now over—the last musher, Victoria Hardwick, having crossed the finish line with nine exhausted dogs in tow earlier this evening—PETA highlights the following roundup of the horrific incidents that occurred that show exactly why the Iditarod must end (and more information is available here).

  • A dog named Oshi died from aspiration pneumonia two days after crossing the finish line—meaning that she likely choked to death on her own vomit, which is the leading cause of death for dogs who don’t survive the race. Imagine that happening to human athletes.
  • Musher Sarah Stokey walked part of the final 150-mile stretch of the Iditarod trail, forcing her dogs—who were too abused and exhausted to keep pulling her—to finish the race.
  • Musher Linwood Fiedler lost the 13 dogs he was forcing to race when the line connecting them to his sled broke. As they ran free of the sled, one is believed to have been dragged through the snow by the others. Fiedler rounded them up and made them continue the race.
  • After four dogs had to be dropped from the race, the remaining ones used by musher Nicolas Petit simply refused to continue running, an act of exhausted defiance that cost him his lead and that he claimed was “just a head thing.”
  • A total of 235 dogs were pulled off the trail during this year’s race because of exhaustion, illness, injury, and so on.

 More than 150 dogs have died in the history of the Iditarod, and those are just the reported deaths. That number doesn’t include dogs who died during training for it, or during the off-season, while chained to plastic barrels or wooden boxes outside in the ice and snow (which is how trainers typically keep them). Rule 42 of the official Iditarod rules blithely asserts that some deaths may be considered “unpreventable.” Of the dogs who do survive, studies show that 81 percent are left with lung damage and 61 percent with gastric ulcers.

“How many more dead, injured, suffering dogs will it take before the Iditarod is relegated to the trash heap of history?” asks PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “If human athletes were forced to press on until they died choking on their own vomit, people would be in jail. PETA is requesting a full veterinary evaluation of every dog used in this year’s race and urging that 2019 be the last year these poor animals are literally run into the ground so that people can win some money.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—notes that forcing dogs to run hundreds of treacherous miles at breakneck speed through ice and snow is a form of speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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