Central Park Memorial Blooms for Five Dogs Raced to Death in 2017 Iditarod

Caring New Yorkers Flock to Place Flowers, Will Attend Vigil at Balto Statue

For Immediate Release:
March 18, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

New York

Following the deaths of five dogs in less than a week in this year’s Iditarod, members of PETA will hold a candlelight vigil tonight as they call for an end to the deadly race. Mourners have been placing flowers and cards at the Balto statue in Central Park—as well as at the Iditarod dogsled race memorial statue in Anchorage, Alaska—in tribute to the five dogs who died this year and the more than 150 dogs who’ve died since the first Iditarod race. Fern Levitt—director of Sled Dogs, a new documentary that draws back the curtain on the cruel race—will also attend the vigil.

Where:     The Balto statue, between the 107th Infantry Memorial at E. 67th St. and 5th Ave. and the Willowdell Arch, Central Park

When:       Saturday, March 18, 7–8 p.m.

Three-year-old Shilling, who collapsed and died on the trail on Wednesday, was at least the 151st dog to die in the Iditarod. Other deaths this year include an injured dog who’s suspected to have died from hyperthermia, a dog who was hit by a car after he had escaped from his handler, and two dogs who collapsed on the trail and died from “acute aspiration pneumonia,” which may have been caused by inhaling their own vomit.

“Deacon, Smoke, Groovey, Flash, Shilling, and at least 146 other dogs have died in this cruel race, and all for humans’ egos,” says PETA Vice President Colleen O’Brien. “How many more dogs will be forced to run to their deaths before this abusive spectacle is banned?”

Dogs in the Iditarod are forced to run nearly 1,000 miles—roughly the distance from Orlando, Florida, to New York City—in under two weeks. On average, they must run 100 miles a day, with only a few brief periods of rest. They’re subjected to biting winds, blinding snowstorms, subzero temperatures, and treacherous ice. Their feet become bruised and bloodied, and many dogs pull muscles, incur stress fractures, or are afflicted by diarrhea, dehydration, intestinal viruses, and “sled dog myopathy”—catastrophic muscle breakdown that often leads to death.  On average, about half of them don’t finish the race.

PETA’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment.” More information about PETA’s campaign against dogsled racing is available on our website.


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