Abuse, Neglect of Racing Dogs Prompts Appeal to Iditarod Trail Committee

PETA Probe Shows Violations of the 2019 Kennel Standards Agreement—Group Calls For End to Relying on Mushers to 'Self-Certify'

For Immediate Release:
April 9, 2019

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Wasilla, Alaska – Based on the findings of PETA’s first-of-its-kind exposé of two kennels owned by Iditarod mushers housing approximately 190 dogs—including many trained for and used in the 2019 race—the group sent a letter this morning calling on the Iditarod Trail Committee to take action against the mushers for apparent violations of the 2019 Kennel Standards Agreement:

  • At Team Baker Kennel, owned by Iditarod champion John Baker and five-time Iditarod competitor Katherine Keith, dogs’ only protection from the elements is dilapidated, uninsulated, and open-faced boxes. Dogs who were in obvious and significant pain—including one elderly, arthritic, and lame former champion who was left chained by the frozen sea without any shelter—were denied adequate veterinary care. Dogs are routinely fed a “stew” of rotten or moldy meat, and their only access to water is in the form of this stew, which is often so foul that they won’t eat it.
  • At IdidaRide Sled Dog Tours, Inc., owned by three-time Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey and managed by musher Ryan Santiago, a dog was left to suffer without veterinary care for open and infected wounds and rotting flesh on his neck. Dogs there run in circles for so long around the uninsulated plastic barrels to which they’re chained that their paw pads become worn down and raw.

Because Keith, Seavey, and Santiago registered for the 2019 Iditarod, they were bound to abide by the Kennel Standards Agreement, which requires that dogs receive veterinary intervention for relief from pain and suffering, wholesome food, and adequate shelter—but which allows mushers to “self-certify” their compliance.

“The Iditarod’s reliance on mushers to regulate their own kennels has left dogs suffering from painful, untreated ailments while living amid deplorable conditions,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling on the Iditarod Trail Committee to give up this charade and take action against these mushers and any others caught leaving dogs without shelter, veterinary care, or other basic necessities of life.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind