For Immediate Release:
March 20, 2022
David Perle 202-483-7382
Nome, Alaska – Animal mistreatment is the name of the game for the Iditarod, and this year was no exception. Now that the final musher has crossed the finish line at the expense of her dogs, PETA shares the following information about the deaths and chaos that ensued in order to give a balanced perspective:
- Photos from the starting line show dogs chained up in the freezing cold and mushers dragging dogs and heaving them into tiny crates.
- Nearly 250 dogs were pulled off the trail because of exhaustion, illness, injury, or other causes, forcing the remaining ones to work even harder to pull the mushers.
- Iditarod “winner” Brent Sass—whose dogs have died in other races and who chains his dogs to wooden boxes and plastic barrels in the frigid cold—left behind three dogs who could go no farther. He also shared a disturbing video during the race of dogs covered in snow and ice in the blistering wind with, as he described, their faces “totally entrenched in snow” and their eyes “all frozen shut.” In a previous race, he pushed dogs so far beyond their breaking point that he had to call for a rescue.
- Musher Hugh Neff reportedly had to quit after the dogs he was forcing to race—who were described as “skinny” and were apparently suffering from diarrhea—were found in such poor condition that they couldn’t continue. Neff was banned from the 2019 race after one of his dogs died during the Yukon Quest.
- Notorious musher Dallas Seavey—who has raced dogs who have tested positive for opioids, operates a kennel accused of killing dogs who didn’t make the grade, and owns property where a whistleblower reported finding dying puppies—admitted that during the first half of the race, the dogs he was forcing to run were suffering from diarrhea and that several dogs had been pulled off the trail because of injuries.
- A dog named Jimbo was left behind by musher Richie Diehl and subsequently escaped the Iditarod’s “dropped dog” area in Anchorage. He was on the loose for more than a day.
- Leon, a dog used by rookie musher Sébastien Dos Santos Borges, went missing at the Ruby checkpoint during the Iditarod—and apparently, he has still not been found.
- Before the race even began, four dogs were severely injured by a moose while being forced to train by rookie musher Bridgett Watkins, and the month before, a team of dogs run by musher Jaye Foucher was hit by a truck, killing one of them, injuring others, and causing another dog to go missing.
“The Iditarod must end for the sake of the dogs who are being injured, chained, and worked to the bone,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA and concerned people all over the country are calling for this rotten race to join the trash heap of historical blunders.”
This year, Millennium Hotels and Resorts and Nutanix joined ExxonMobil—a former major sponsor that had given the race $250,000 a year—as well as Jack Daniel’s, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, Alaska Airlines, and 14 other companies in cutting ties with the Iditarod. PETA supporters denounced the race at its Ceremonial Start in Anchorage and its Restart in Willow; pressured one of its few remaining major sponsors, GCI, to end support; and ran anti-Iditarod ads on local buses and television stations.
More information about this year’s Iditarod, including photos and video of PETA’s protests against it, is available here.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.