PETA Statement on the Iditarod’s Unsurprising COVID-19 Case

For Immediate Release:
March 11, 2021

David Perle 202-483-7382

Wasilla, Alaska – Please see the following statement from PETA Vice President Colleen O’Brien in response to reports that veteran Iditarod musher Gunnar Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 and has been removed from the race:

PETA’s warning is coming true: Inspired by a relay to transport a vaccine nearly 100 years ago, the Iditarod is today spreading COVID-19. Dogs can carry the virus on their coats, and more than 60 dogs have already been pulled off the trail, likely because of illness, exhaustion, or injury, leaving the remaining ones to work even harder. In addition, since dogs can’t socially distance and 81% of those who finish the race end up with lung damage, the result of a positive COVID-19 test could be dire. PETA warned the Iditarod that the novel coronavirus can spread between species, but the reckless spectacle went on, proving once again that it lacks concern for the animals it puts at great risk.

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 or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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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