2020 Iditarod Dog Abuse

For Immediate Release:
March 22, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382

Nome, Alaska

PETA has raised numerous problems and concerns over the treatment of the dogs and their living conditions during this season’s Iditarod. With the race now over—the last musher, Kaci Murringer, having crossed the finish line with exhausted dogs in tow this afternoon—PETA presents a roundup of the horrific incidents that occurred this year alone showing why PETA and concerned people everywhere are calling on this cruel event to end:

  • Nicolas Petit forced his dogs to continue the race even after, reportedly, all of them vomited, one was injured in a fight with another dog, and three got frostbite. He finally stopped racing at mile 852, likely because the dogs simply couldn’t run any farther.
  • Jessie Royer accidentally set her own sled on fire.
  • A senior dog used by Matthew Failor named Cool Cat developed twisted intestines and almost died of painful bloat.
  • Mitch Seavey—already the subject of a recent PETA undercover investigation that found that dogs were chained up, denied veterinary care, and even killed during training—reportedly threw a dog down and pinned her muzzle to the ground while on the race’s livestream. He previously admitted to beating, depriving, and neglecting dogs.
  • Thomas Waerner—who chains his dogs to wooden boxes in the snow at his kennel (a common practice for mushers)—left behind four dogs he pushed beyond the breaking point during the race.
  • Richie Diehl admitted that he dropped out of the race because five dogs had coughs and were showing signs of the beginning stages of pneumonia.
  • As of Friday, a dog named Betty used by John Schandelmeier was in critical condition with pneumonia, and dogs Thunder and Charlotte weren’t eating, had lost a lot of weight, and had fevers, diarrhea, and consistent coughing.
  • Three mushers had to call for rescue after running dogs through part of the trail blocked by seawater overflow. Rescuers reportedly found the mushers in sleeping bags, and they required oxygen. But there was no word as to the conditions of the wet dogs in the below-freezing temperatures.
  • More than 220 dogs were pulled off the trail because of exhaustion, illness, injury, and other causes, leaving the rest to have to work even harder.

These instances are in addition to ongoing complaints surrounding the Iditarod, including the deaths of more than 150 dogs since the race began.

“From vomiting and frostbitten dogs to exhaustion, illness, and injury so severe that they were removed from the trail, the 2020 Iditarod stayed the course in terms of cruelty,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “Dogs will suffer badly as long as this despicable race continues, which is why PETA is calling for this year to be its last.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—notes that forcing dogs to run hundreds of miles through ice and snow for a musher’s prize purse is a form of speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. This event is truly a matter of life or death for dogs. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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