Latest Report of Iditarod Dog Killings Prompts Complaint

PETA Calls On Alaskan Authorities to Investigate Claims That a Musher Killed Dogs in 'Fits of Anger'

For Immediate Release:
February 15, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Anchorage, Ala. – After a man publicly claimed this week to have previously worked for Iditarod musher John Baker and reportedly told news sources that he’d witnessed Baker kill sled dogs in fits of rage, PETA fired off a letter this morning urging the Alaska Department of Public Safety and the Kotzebue Police Department to conduct a thorough and immediate investigation into the allegations. The man also alleges that he knows of other violations by Iditarod Board President Andy Baker.

As noted in the letter, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—previously called on authorities to investigate allegations that sled dogs at kennels reportedly belonging to Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey were sick and injured, chained in dismal conditions, denied veterinary care, and regularly subjected to beatings.

“Another day brings yet another allegation of an Iditarod musher’s horrific cruelty to dogs,” says PETA Vice President Colleen O’Brien. “As this despicable race continues to implode, PETA is calling on Alaskan authorities to investigate John Baker for allegedly throwing temper tantrums that left dogs dead.”

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PETA’s letter to the agencies follows.

February 15, 2018

To:    Commissioner Walt Monegan, State of Alaska Department of Public Safety

Col. Hans Brinke, Director, Alaska State Troopers, State of Alaska Department of Public Safety

Chief Eric Swisher, Kotzebue Police Department

From:    Kristin Rickman, Emergency Response Division Manager, PETA

Re:    Allegations Made Against Iditarod Musher

Your urgent attention is respectfully requested.

Alarming accusations have surfaced against Kotzebue–based musher John Baker and his brother, Iditarod official Andy Baker. Among these is the contention made by a professed former handler-turned-whistleblower identifying himself as “Rick Townsend” that John Baker killed dogs “in fits of anger”—and Townsend says that he can prove it. Please see his comment below this article and see this article for additional information.

In October, the Department of Public Safety investigated allegations that sled dogs—at kennels in Willow and Talkeetna belonging to Dallas Seavey—were sick and injured, chained in dismal conditions, denied veterinary care, and regularly subjected to beatings. Also, in October, veteran musher Zoya DeNure came forward to allege that “hundreds on top of hundreds or more dogs”—including ones in the Seavey kennels—have been killed because they didn’t make the cut.

While culling underperforming dogs is, sadly, a notorious and longstanding tradition for sled-dog handlers, Alaska law prohibits individuals from knowingly inflicting severe physical pain or suffering on an animal. We respectfully request that your offices investigate this matter immediately.

May we please hear from you soon?


Kristin Rickman

Emergency Response Division Manager

Cruelty Investigations Department

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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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

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