Veterinarian’s Statement: Overexertion Is Killing Iditarod Dogs

For Immediate Release:
March 16, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Koyuk, Alaska – Below, please find a statement from Dr. Christine Capaldo, veterinary adviser to PETA, in response to the “pneumonia-related” death of Blonde during the 2018 Iditarod:

Pneumonia in young dogs occurs most often because of infectious causes (viral, bacterial, or parasitic) or because of the aspiration of foreign material (food particles, vomit, dust, or irritating substances).

The dogs used in the Iditarod are being overexerted, causing extreme fatigue and exhaustion, in addition to suppressing their immune systems. This is likely causing them to be far more susceptible to viral or bacterial pneumonia. Dogs who are stressed are also likely to develop other conditions, such as stress colitis, which can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and vomiting. Vomit that is inhaled is likely to cause inflammation and infection in the lungs, especially in a dog who is being forced to run many miles a day without adequate rest or shelter.

Dogs who develop respiratory illness require prompt treatment, rest, and proper nutrition. Any delay in treatment, chronic stress on the body, or chronic exposure to cold temperatures can cause rapid deterioration, sepsis, respiratory failure, or even death.

PETA’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment,” and more information about the campaign against the Iditarod is available on PETA’s website.

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

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind