Governor Urged to Save Dogs, Help End the Iditarod

For Immediate Release:
February 2, 2023

David Perle 202-483-7382

Juneau, Alaska

Ahead of the 2023 Iditarod and as Gov. Mike Dunleavy settles into his second term, Anchorage resident Michelle Sinnott fired off a letter this morning to the governor—who is known for his love of dogs—urging him to call for the permanent cancellation of the race, which has killed more than 150 dogs since it began. Sinnott notes that the Iditarod—which is driven by the lure of cash prizes and fame and has nothing to do with how the original Iditarod Trail was used—puts hundreds of dogs at risk of illness, injury, and death every year.

“Governor Dunleavy clearly loves his own dogs and surely wouldn’t force them to run hundreds of miles until their paws bled and their bodies broke down,” says Sinnott. “PETA is calling on him to use his influence to end this deadly race and help protect dogs, who deserve the same care and consideration that his animal companions, Mr. Tito, Blue, and Olive, enjoy.”

PETA notes that even the most enthusiastic athlete wouldn’t run four marathons a day for up to two weeks in biting winds, blinding snowstorms, and subzero temperatures. As awareness of the Iditarod’s cruelty grows, an increasing number of sponsors are cutting ties, including ExxonMobil, Jack Daniel’s, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, Alaska Airlines, and Millennium Hotels and Resorts—and musher enrollment is at an all-time low.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Dunleavy follows.

February 2, 2023

The Honorable Mike Dunleavy

Governor of Alaska

Dear Gov. Dunleavy:

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters worldwide, including more than 16,000 across our great state—to urge you to use your power to call for this year’s Iditarod to be canceled, before hundreds of dogs are again put at risk of serious illness, injury, and even death.

Contrary to popular belief and as you surely know, today’s race has nothing to do with how the original Iditarod Trail was used or the 1925 emergency relay of diphtheria serum to Nome. Instead, the Iditarod uses a distorted version of history as an excuse to force dogs to run 1,000 miles through some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain so that mushers have a chance at winning cash prizes and fame.

These dogs are no different from those we love and share our homes with—just like your beloved Mr. Tito, Blue, and Olive—yet they’re kept chained to dilapidated boxes or plastic barrels outside in all weather extremes and are forced to race until their bodies break down. Thousands of dogs are bred for racing each year, and those deemed too old or not fast enough have been shot, bludgeoned to death, or abandoned to starve. Is this really how Alaska wants to treat “man’s best friend”?

The public is quickly turning away from the Iditarod’s cruelty to dogs: Last year, outrage ensued after officials shamefully chose to fine mushers for sheltering dogs during a potentially deadly storm. The Iditarod’s list of sponsors continues to drop, and this year’s race garnered a record-low number of musher sign-ups.

As an Alaskan, I know we can celebrate the historic Iditarod Trail and Alaskan huskies without causing dogs to suffer and die. Please, help ensure the Iditarod’s dog abuse doesn’t continue on your watch. Thank you for your consideration.

Very truly yours,

Michelle Sinnott, Esq.

Director, Captive Animal Law Enforcement

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