Iditarod 2018 Upgrade: Will It Be Skiing Humans, Not Suffering Huskies?

PETA Calls for Annual Event to Feature Human Athletes

For Immediate Release:
March 28, 2017

David Perle 202-483-7382

Wasilla, Alaska – After five dogs died in less than a week in this year’s Iditarod—bringing the total death toll over the race’s history to more than 150 dogs—PETA sent letters this morning urging the Iditarod Trail Committee and the mayors of Nome and Anchorage to replace dogs in the race with cyclists, cross-country skiers, or snowmobilers.

In the letters, PETA notes that whaling towns in New England no longer harpoon and kill majestic whales, but they still make a fortune from souvenirs and historic tours—and residents of Mataelpino, Spain, now run from giant polystyrene balls instead of the once-traditional bulls. By removing dogs from the race, the Iditarod could similarly honor Alaska’s history without harming any huskies.

“Dogs will keep dropping dead as long as the Iditarod keeps forcing them to run vast distances at breakneck speeds just so that their owners can win prizes,” says PETA Vice President Colleen O’Brien. “PETA is suggesting a new Iditarod that celebrates the trail’s history instead of dogs’ deaths.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—notes that the Iditarod forces huskies to run up to 100 miles per day over treacherous ice and in biting winds, blinding snowstorms, and subzero temperatures. 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. n average, about half of them don’t finish the race.

Many more die before the race even begins. Thousands of dogs are bred to compete, but those who are not deemed fast or fit enough are usually killed—including by being bludgeoned, shot, or drowned. The dogs used for the race spend much of their lives in cramped kennels, many of them tethered on short ropes or chains.

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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