New Iditarod CEO Slammed for Sham Meeting, Total Failure to Help Dogs

PETA Fires Back at Rob Urbach: Talk Is Cheap

For Immediate Release:
January 13, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382

Wasilla, Alaska – This morning, PETA sent a letter calling out Iditarod CEO Rob Urbach for failing to help dogs used in the 1,000-mile race. Urbach recently met with PETA representatives, pitched the disingenuous meeting to the media, and even sent PETA’s executive vice president a postcard saying that he looks forward to working with the group in 2020—but it’s clear that he has no intention whatsoever of helping the dogs: Despite his suggesting it, he ultimately refused to allow a PETA veterinarian or an independent veterinarian to visit the kennels, where dogs are left chained up in the freezing cold and summer heat, so PETA is decrying his actions as nothing more than a stunt.

“The dogs bred, chained, and pushed past their limits for the Iditarod are exactly the same, physiologically and emotionally, as the dogs who share our homes,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA stands ready to help the Iditarod reinvent itself and celebrate Alaskan culture without the dogs—but it’s clear that its organizers are only interested in stunts and the status quo, and we’re not willing to go along with any plan that still forces dogs to run to their deaths.”

PETA has also posted a meme on its popular social media pages explaining why the group is “leaving the Iditarod CEO on read.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit

PETA’s letter to Iditarod CEO Rob Urbach follows.


We reached out to you initially in the hope that someone without a longstanding affiliation with the Iditarod would actually be open to reinventing the race without dogs. When you offered to have a vet visit the kennels, we were initially hopeful that it would give us an opportunity to help you see what we see and what most people see: dogs merely existing on the ends of chains in the freezing cold and summer heat. But it has become very clear that this is merely a stunt you wish to orchestrate. When you balked at the notion of a PETA vet doing the kennel visit, we found a highly regarded vet at the top vet school in the country, someone unaffiliated with PETA, willing to visit, but it seems you don’t actually mean an unaffiliated vet—you mean a vet not of our choosing.

Again, there is no such thing as a “sled dog,” any more than there is a “house dog.” The dogs bred, chained, and pushed past their limits for the Iditarod are exactly the same physiologically and emotionally as all other dogs. If it is not safe to keep dogs in pens, keeping them tethered isn’t the alternative.

It is only a matter of time before the Iditarod as we know it comes to an end. The public won’t stand for cruelty, and the race will go the way of the circus. You can reinvent it without dogs and celebrate its culture and history, but using dogs should not be part of it. Until then, we will continue to work hard for these dogs.



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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