For Immediate Release:
January 5, 2021
David Perle 202-483-7382
Norfolk, Va. – Just in time for the new year, director Fern Levitt’s compelling documentary Sled Dogs—which has been called the Blackfish of the dogsledding industry—is now available to Prime members at no additional cost to their membership and is free on Plex.
The explosive documentary reveals the shocking, secret practices of mushers and trainers from Alaska, Colorado, and Canada who use whatever means necessary to force dogs to pull sleds for tourists and compete in grueling races like the Iditarod:
- Dogs used in the 1,000-mile Iditarod were found to be exhausted and injured, and some were too worn out even to eat or drink.
- “Surplus” dogs are routinely shot, bludgeoned, or abandoned to starve. As one handler-turned-whistleblower explained, dogs may be killed simply for having the wrong color paw pads.
- At the largest tourist dogsledding operation in the U.S., dogs were regularly shot in the back of the head and buried in a pit.
- When not being used, dogs are chained outside to plastic barrels, metal posts, and dilapidated wooden boxes in snow, rain, and subfreezing temperatures.
- At one operation, a trainer hadn’t noticed that a dog was dead at the end of his chain until the film crew pointed it out.
“Sled Dogs shines a spotlight on the dogs who are chained 24/7 in all weather extremes, forced to run until their bodies break down, and killed if they don’t measure up,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA encourages everyone to watch this must-see film and never support the Iditarod or any outfit that forces miserable, abused dogs to pull people on sleds.”
More than 150 dogs have died during the Iditarod since it began—and that doesn’t include those who died during the off-season or who were killed because they weren’t fast or fit enough to make the grade. During the 2020 race alone, more than 220 dogs were pulled off the trail because of exhaustion, illness, injury, or other causes.
Since the release of Sled Dogs, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—released an undercover investigation into former champion Iditarod mushers’ “kennels,” revealing sick, injured, and crying dogs chained outside in the freezing cold.
More information about the dogsledding industry is available on PETA’s website.