Iditarod Rot! PETA Offers to Rebuild Race’s Collapsed Burled Arch—With a Catch 

For Immediate Release:
April 30, 2024

David Perle 202-483-7382

Nome, Alaska

In an incident stunning in its symbolism, the Iditarod burled arch has disintegrated from apparent wood rot, prompting PETA to send a letter to Iditarod CEO Rob Urbach and Mayor of Nome John Handeland today offering to cover the cost of building a new sturdy, modern archway—if they agree to rebrand the Iditarod as a race for willing human athletes only.

“Even the Iditarod’s shabby old sign is giving up the ghost,” says PETA Senior Director Heather Carlson. “Something’s rotten in the state of Alaska, and PETA is calling on officials to stop clinging to the shameful dog death race and reinvent the Iditarod with a fresh new arch and proud human participants.” 

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kitsfor people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit or follow the group on X, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Handeland and Urbach follows.

April 30, 2024

The Honorable John K. Handeland

Mayor of Nome

Rob Urbach, CEO


Dear Mayor Handeland and Mr. Urbach:

I’m writing on behalf of PETA and our millions of members and supporters worldwide following the news of the Iditarod burled arch’s collapse with a proposition: PETA will cover the entire cost of building a new arch in time for the 2025 race if the Iditarod replaces dogs with willing human athletes, such as cross-country skiers, or even snowmachiners, to spare dogs a life of pain and misery.

The controversy surrounding the Iditarod’s cruelty to dogs only grows, as this year’s race became one of the deadliest in recent memory. Dogs named Henry, George, and Bog were forced to run until their bodies broke down, and they collapsed and died on the trail, adding to the existing death toll of more than 150 dogs. Even before the race began, five dogs were killed and eight others were injured during training. More than 200 dogs were pulled off the trail due to illness, injury, and exhaustion, including Faloo, who had to be airlifted for emergency surgery after her musher prioritized winning over getting her immediate veterinary care.

Both the dog-free Iron Dog snowmachine race and the Iditarod Trail Invitational ultramarathon surpassed the Iditarod in sign-ups again this year, an indication that the public is rejecting the abuse of dogs for racing. The collapse of the burled arch is another sign that the race in its current form is collapsing—and it’s time for it to be reimagined.

A new arch that marks the end of cruelty to dogs would be an opportunity to honor the historic Iditarod Trail without causing dogs to suffer and die. And reinventing the race without dogs would attract a new audience at a time when the Iditarod’s popularity has rotted like the old arch. Thank you for your consideration.


Melanie Johnson

Senior Manager

Animals in Entertainment Campaigns

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