Iditarod dog kennel horrors

Terrible tethering

This dog was one of several on Doug Bartko's property who were tied to "gang lines" with leads that allowed only 12 to 15 inches for movement. Photo is courtesy of SledDogma.org

This dog was one of several on Doug Bartko’s property who were tied to “gang lines” with leads that allowed only 12 to 15 inches for movement. Photo is courtesy of SledDogma.org

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Tethering dogs is cruel, dangerous and makes dogs aggressive

Iditarod sled dogs are forced to live on chains. Many places have banned or severely restricted tethering because its terribly cruel to dogs.

Iditarod sled dogs are forced to live on chains. Many places have banned or severely restricted tethering because it’s terribly cruel to dogs.

Keeping dogs continuously chained is massive psychological cruelty:

[Iditarod dogs are tethered on chains as short as four feet. Each dog is kept in one spot and cannot interact normally with other dogs. Many kennels have more than 100 dogs and some have more than 200 dogs. In his introduction to the book Father of the Iditarod, Joe Redington, co-founder of the race, admitted that by 1990 he had 527 dogs living in his kennel.]

“Dogs are naturally social beings who thrive on interaction with human beings and other animals. A dog kept chained in one spot for hours, days, months or even years suffers immense psychological damage. An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously changed, becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious and often aggressive.”

– King 5 Television, Seattle, December, 2002, website

“Canada’s best-known expert on dog behaviour says keeping a dog on a short chain its whole life and depriving it of social interaction is as cruel as depriving a two-year-old child of the same basic necessities.

Dr. Stanley Coren, a University of B.C. psychology professor, was commenting on a case in Victoria, where the SPCA seized an 11-month-old rottweiler from a house at 510 Raynor Ave. after it was alleged that the dog spent her entire life on the end of a 2.5-metre chain. [From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: A 2.5 metre chain is 8.202 feet. Iditarod dogs are kept on chains 4 to 5 feet long.]

It was the first time in the B.C. SPCA’s history that the society seized an animal on grounds of psychological, rather than physical, abuse.”

“I think the easiest way to think about what’s going on is to remember that a dog has the mind of a two-year-old human child,” Coren said. “If someone took a two-year-old child and tied him to his bed area, forced him to eat near his feces, allowed him to get cold and in the way of drafts, and didn’t give him any social support, I think we would agree that everyone in the world would claim that this was massive cruelty.

That’s the mind you’re dealing with when you’re dealing with a dog. The same kind of things that will damage that two-year-old’s mind will damage a dog’s mind.”

– Nicholas Read, Vancouver Sun, February 28, 2002

Very sad or depressed tethered Iditarod dog. Photo attributed to Barrison on flickr.

Very sad or depressed tethered Iditarod sled dog. Photo attributed to Barrison on flickr.

“Watching 16-week-old puppies habituate to a tether’s lack of freedom, as I did when researching sled-dog kennels in Quebec, is truly unsettling. They fall into a condition psychologists call “learned helplessness” — the futility of their fight for freedom results in a passive depression-type acceptance of their condition.”

“Tethering from an early age similarly reduces dogs’ exposure to novelty, making them poor prospects for successful re-homing. It also makes them unable to express normal behaviours. Dogs, like us, are social animals and desire contact with others of their species.”

– Jill Taggart holds a PhD in Behavioural Psychology and a Master of Science in Animal Behaviour. She is a practicing Clinical Animal Behaviorist.
– Jill Taggart, Vancouver Sun, February 5, 2011

“Kim Schoolcraft, director of the Galveston County Animal Control division of the health district, said a dog’s nature was to be part of a pack or family.

‘When a dog is isolated every day, for extended periods, it’s going to take a psychic toll, just like it would on a human being,” Schoolcraft said.'”

– Scott Williams, The Galveston County Daily News, October 13, 2006

“Chaining them drives them insane, basically, and they don’t know how to behave.”

– Ellie Choate, Doña Ana County animal control supervisor
– Renée Ruelas-Venegas and Jason Gibbs, Las Cruces Sun-News, December 16, 2006

Iditarod kennels are canine concentration camps or madhouses for dogs:

“These social animals, bred to run, spend nearly all of their time confined to a 5-foot chain to keep them near their small doghouse, food bowl, water dish and, most unnatural for a dog, their own excretions. Some veterinarians contend, quite reasonably, that chaining a dog leads to aggression and stress and, in fact, it appears that sled dogs suffer from a high rate of stomach ulcers brought on, some believe, by their living conditions. To some, 120 small identical doghouses, each with a restless howling dog chained next to it, may look like a “summer camp,” but it’s not hard to picture it as a canine concentration camp or a madhouse for dogs.”

– John M. Crisp, Scripps Howard News Service, August 20, 2007

Tethered dogs are often unsocialized:

“[Terry] Erhart, 27, walks up to a black sled dog cowering against the fence. The dog’s stance is not unusual. Nearly all Iditarod dogs are raised and trained in bush Alaska. They grow up knowing few people and open landscape.”

– Terry Erhart was an inmate Hiland Mountain Correctional Center who took care of dogs dropped from the Iditarod.
– Andrew Perala, Anchorage Daily News, March 21, 1987

“A number of their dogs were terrified of humans, even in their later years. You had to grab their chain and pull them in to you, harness them and then walk them to the team and snap them in. They walked as far away from you as they could, with their tails tucked, and clung to the ground when you hooked them into harness. They just wanted you to get away from them. A lot of sled dogs are like this, sadly.”

– Ashley Keith, former musher and Iditarod kennel employee who now rescues and rehabilitates abused sled dogs
– Email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, April 28, 2007

Tethering may cause repetitive behaviors:

“Tethering also causes behavioural responses. Dogs may perform repetitive behaviours such as incessant pacing, circling, barking, licking or self-mutilation, or learned helplessness.”

– Jill Taggart holds a PhD in Behavioural Psychology and a Master of Science in Animal Behaviour. She is a practising Clinical Animal Behaviourist.
– Jill Taggart, Vancouver Sun, February 5, 2011

“Many dogs run around their chain is circles as it is their nature to be very active. Several of the young dogs especially actually wear deep circular trenches in the snow and earth around their pen about four metres in diameter, as a result of constantly running in a circle on the end of their chain.”

– Jane Stevens, email sent to the Sled Dog Action Coalition on March 28, 2011
– Jane Stevens was a dog handler for a top 10 Iditarod musher.

Chained dogs wear feet to shreds:

“When there are females in heat around, your peaceful property will take on a new personality females will howl for hours. Males will bark all night.” “They will run in circles and slam against their collars, wearing their feet to shreds.”

– Seavey, Mitch. Lead, Follow or Get Out of The Way!, Sterling: Ididaride Publishing Company, 2008

Dogs damage teeth chewing on chains:

“I’ve seen dogs at numerous kennels that have teeth damage from chewing on their chains.”

– Ashley Keith, former musher and Iditarod kennel employee who now rescues and rehabilitates abused sled dogs
– Email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, April 28, 2007

The necks of chained dogs become raw and infected:

“In many cases, the necks of chained dogs become raw and covered with sores, the result of improperly fitted collars, and the dog’s constant yanking and straining to escape confinement.”

Sebastian County Humane Society, Fort Smith, AR, December, 2002, website

Tethering makes dogs easy targets for attacks by other animals, etc:

“A chained animal may suffer…stinging bites from insects, and, in the worst cases attacks by other animals.”

– King 5 Television, Seattle, December, 2002, website

“It jeopardizes the dog’s welfare by exposure to attacks, accidents, direct and indirect poisoning, sick animals, etc.”

– Dennis Fetko, Ph.D. December, 2002, Dr. Dog website
– Dr. Fetko is and expert in animal training and behavior

Dogs on chains are easy marks for wolves, foxes, bears, coyotes, moose and musk oxen:

“Dan [Seavey] (my grandpa) and I [Danny Seavey] share a dog lot, and I live next door.

“We have moose in the yard all the time, so I didn’t think much of it, but when I got there, poor Grits (a Peach grandson) was hiding in his house while the moose was jumping up and down on top of it. I shot him from a long ways away with some bird shot, enough to sting him but not hurt him. He stopped pouncing on Grits, and stood in the middle of the yard licking his lips. Our houses are 55 gallon plastic barrels bolted onto railroad ties. They are big and heavy enough the dogs can’t pull them around. Grits was trying to hide in his house, but it had been kicked off it’s base, and was rolling around his circle.”

– Iditarodblog, Anchorage Daily News, March 9, 2012

“‘We had wolves actually killing dogs in lots,’ [William “Middy”] Johnson told me a few days before the race began.

‘”I know there were two pups missing and two other dogs were taken right in the lots,’ he said.”

– Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily New – The Sled Blog, March 14, 2010

“A pack of wolves killed about a half-dozen sled dogs from three teams in Marshall on Wednesday night before residents of the Yukon River village chased them out of town, according to village officials and Alaska State Troopers.”

“Dogs tied up on an 18-inch chain are simply too good to pass up, he [Alaska State Trooper Sgt. Matt Dobson] said.

‘These wolves have more than enough to eat,’ he [Dobson] said. ‘It’s just an easy treat for them.”

– James Halpin, Anchorage Daily News, October 26, 2007

Follow-up: One the wolves tested positive for rabies:

“A wolf killed [by humans] during an attack on sled dogs in the Yukon River village of Marshall last week has tested positive for rabies, and state officials Wednesday night said unvaccinated dogs in the village should be euthanized.

The wolf was part of a pack that killed a half-dozen dogs the night of Oct. 24 before villagers chased them out, killing the one wolf and wounding others. Tests returned late Wednesday showed that animal had rabies, and the state’s wildlife veterinarian said it’s possible other wolves in the pack also have the disease. Dogs could have been infected as well.”

– Don Hunter, Anchorage Daily News, November 1, 2007

“I remember the time a grizzly bear came into the dog yard, which is situated with view of our house. It is not an everyday event for sure, but it does occur almost every summer at our home in Denali.”

“The dog closest to the bear was Hickory, and he was standing on his back legs at the forward end of his chain….” “Before the incident was over, I ended up having to shoot that grizzly bear who went down less than ten feet away from my great lead dog.”

– King, Jeff. Cold Hands Warm Heart, Husky Homestead Press, 2008

“NOME — A sight grimly familiar to Nome dog owners returned Wednesday with the fatal goring of a local musher’s dog by a bull musk ox.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game wildlife biologist Bill Dunker said Nome police called his office Wednesday afternoon to report two dogs were injured — one fatally — in the attack before the bull musk ox was killed in what Dunker calls a clear case of “defense of life or property.”

“[Bill] Dunker said it’s the first fatal clash between musk oxen and Nome residents or animals so far this summer. That’s a far cry from the multiple gorings and dog fatalities seen last year, including a DLP [Defense of Life or Property] kill of a musk ox harassing a dog and a similar DLP kill in the community of Wales.”

– Matthew Smith, KNOM, August 13, 2015

Musk oxen have killed and injured tethered Iditarod dogs. Photo attributed to Quartl on Wikimedia.

Musk oxen have killed and injured tethered Iditarod dogs. Photo attributed to Quartl on Wikimedia.

“The roughly 700-pound animal charged, goring Snoopy, a prized lead dog. Harris grabbed his .30-06 rifle and ran toward the yard in time to see the musk ox bull turn on a second dog and charge.

That dog was able to dodge away, but the musk ox plowed through its metal post and sent it flying, freeing the dog. When the musk ox turned and charged a third dog, Harris shot and brought the animal to the ground.”

Snoopy had been stuck in the belly during the attack….”

– James Halpin and Lisa Demer, Anchorage Daily News, August 28, 2008

“We’ve actually had dogs that were actually killed by musk ox.”

– Alaska Wildlife Trooper Eric Lorring was quoted.
– James Halpin and Lisa Demer, Anchorage Daily News, August 28, 2008

“… [A bull musk ox] wandered into Iditarod champion John Baker’s dog lot and gored one of his huskies in the leg.”

“The behemoth, which most likely weighed between 500 and 600 pounds….”

– Jillian Rogers, The Arctic Sounder, July 11, 2014

“A Kenai Peninsula man shot and killed a brown bear with a shotgun slug while the young boar threatened a chained dog, according to an Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist.”

Anchorage Daily News, May 15, 2007

“‘A dog on a chain is an easy mark,’ [Howard] Golden said. He said the size of the dogs attacked suggests wolves, not coyotes, are responsible. Coyotes weigh 40 to 50 pounds. An adult wolf typically weighs 85 to 115 pounds.”

– Howard Golden is an Alaska state Fish and Game biologist
– Ben Spiess, Anchorage Daily News, April 6, 2003

“But when he looked out, he saw an arctic fox pulling dog-food pans to the side of the yard and licking them out. [Randy] Romenesko said he shooed the fox away with a shovel, but it came back. It tried stealing a pan from one of his chained sled dogs, which lunged at the fox and missed.”

“‘I kind of threw the shovel at him. But he didn’t run off, he ran toward me.’

‘Then I realized I was no longer armed,’ he said. He ran in the house, grabbed his .22-caliber rifle, waited for a clean shot and dispatched the fox.

It had behaved so oddly that he contacted local authorities, who shipped the fox’s head to the state virology lab in Fairbanks. The results: positive for rabies”.

– Steve Rinehart, Anchorage Daily News, March 20, 1997

Dogs easily made sick from eating animal feces and bird droppings:

“Dogs are scavengers by nature, taking treats where they can find them. It’s impossible to explain to a dog that eating a particular item could cause injury or death. As a result, it has become a human responsibility to protect dogs from foraging instincts that might have been useful in the wild but can be deadly to companion dogs.

Risky Business:

Several things your dog can find outdoors are harmful if swallowed. You can see some of the hazards, but others you cannot:

– Animal feces and bird droppings. Animal feces can transmit parasites, bacterial infection, or virus to the dog.”

– VeterinaryPartner.com, January, 2005

Larvae in the soil makes dogs sick:

“Buildups of hookworm larvae in the soil of poorly managed kennels can migrate through the skin of the feet and cause chronic dermatitis.”

– Dr. Dawn Brown, DVM, Mushing, January 1, 2010

“Most drivers park their dogs on dirt because it costs nothing (its one great attribute). Unfortunately, worm eggs thrive in dirt.”

– Collins, Miki and Julie Collins. Dog Driver: A Guide for the Serious Musher, Loveland: Alpine Publications, 1991

Dog poop attracts biting flies, mosquitoes and pests that attack the dogs and contaminate ground and surface water. A typical sled dog excretes 274 pound of waste annually. Forty sled dogs produce four tons of poop a year, 60 sled dogs produce six tons of poop yearly, 80 dogs produce eight tons, etc.

The stench of dog poop attracts biting flies. A typical sled dog excretes 274 pound of waste annually. Forty sled dogs produce four tons of poop a year, 60 sled dogs produce six tons of poop yearly, 80 dogs produce eight tons, etc.

Flies who bite are attracted by odor of waste on the ground:

“When you see a dog house with a circle of dirt around it, you know you are looking at the ‘home’ of a chained dog. The area where the dogs can move about becomes hard-packed dirt that carries the stench of animal waste even if the owner picks up fecal material.

The odor of waste draws flies, which bite the dog’s ears often causing serious bloody wounds.”

– Jean V. Johnson, WHS/SPCA News, 1991

Chaining can result in heat stroke and dehydration:

“Interior summers can have high temperatures over 90 degrees.”

– Alaska.com, Anchorage Daily News, June 2, 2009

“Long-term chaining during the hot summer months can result in countless insect bites, dehydration, and heat stroke.”

Cincinnati Enquirer, May 29, 2009

“Dogs that are chained up can easily wind the chain around a tree, a post, or even their own legs. With a tangled chain, they can’t get to their water bowl.”

– American Animal Hospital Association, healthypet.com, June 2, 2009

Chaining can result in dogs getting sunburn, solar dermatitis and skin cancer:

“Dogs, cats and even horses suffer from sunburn, solar dermatitis and skin cancer.

The skin of a sunburned animal is red and painful, just as in people. Hair loss may also be evident.

The most common sites for sunburn include: the bridge of the nose, eartips, skin around the lips, groin, abdomen and inner legs. Pets that have light-colored noses and skin, thin or missing hair, or have been shaved for surgery are at greater risk for solar-induced skin diseases.

Sunburn can progress to solar dermatitis which is characterized by redness, hair loss, crusting and ulceration of the skin. With continued sun exposure, skin cancer (such as squamous cell carcinoma) may occur.”

– Dr. Chris Riney, Providence Journal, June 21, 2009

Alaska’s intense sun–

“Alaska has long hours of sunlight during the summer, and the sun’s rays are even more intense when they are reflected off snow or water.” “The sun will burn you even if you feel cold…”

– Jim DuFresne, Paige R. Penland, Don Root. Alaska, Lonely Planet, Melbourne, Vic., 2003

Lightning can electrocute tethered Iditarod dogs. Photo attributed to NOAA Photo Library on Wikimedia.

Lightning can electrocute tethered Iditarod dogs. Photo attributed to NOAA Photo Library on Wikimedia.

Dogs on chains can be killed by lightning strikes:

“Dog houses are not safe, and dogs which are chained to metal chains or wire runners are particularly vulnerable to a nearby lightning strike.”

– National Weather Service, Public Information Statement, May, 2002

— Alaska had 31,000 lightning strikes in three days:

“There were more than 31,000 lightning strikes in Alaska from June 19 to June 21, and that is also the cause of nearby North Fork Fire No. 457, which had burned 971 acres by Monday evening.”

– Austin Baird, KTUU.com, June 23, 2015

— Lightning storms occur during winter and summer months:

“Usually they [thunderstorms and lightning] are observed along the Outer Coast as strong cold fronts move in from the Gulf of Alaska. Interestingly, these storms can occur during the winter months as well as during summer.”

“Very active thunderstorm days may feature 2,000 to 5,000 lightning strikes, mainly occurring during the late afternoon hours in late June and early July.”

National Weather Service, Juneau, Lightning Page, website article, April, 2003

Dogs on chains are vulnerable to attacks by rabid animals:

“But when he looked out, he saw an arctic fox pulling dog-food pans to the side of the yard and licking them out. [Randy] Romenesko said he shooed the fox away with a shovel, but it came back. It tried stealing a pan from one of his chained sled dogs, which lunged at the fox and missed.”

“‘I kind of threw the shovel at him. But he didn’t run off, he ran toward me.’

‘Then I realized I was no longer armed,’ he said. He ran in the house, grabbed his .22-caliber rifle, waited for a clean shot and dispatched the fox.

It had behaved so oddly that he contacted local authorities, who shipped the fox’s head to the state virology lab in Fairbanks. The results: positive for rabies”.

– Steve Rinehart, Anchorage Daily News, March 20, 1997

Chained dogs are tormented by attacks from insects, including wasps, bees, mosquitoes, flies:

“No discussion of northern summer and northern sled dogs in that season would be complete without mention of the bugs: mosquitoes, blackflies or sandflies, deer flies, ‘bulldogs,’ ‘no-see-ums,’ the works.””…These hordes can be almost life-threatening in their ferocity.”

– Olesen, Dave. Cold Nights Fast Trails, Minocqua: NorthWord Press, Inc., 1989

Horse fly bites are extremely painful for dogs. Photo attributed to Dennis Ray on wikimedia.

Horse fly bites are extremely painful for dogs. Photo attributed to Dennis Ray on wikimedia.

“Horseflies are maddening to the dogs and bite until they make small bloody wounds….”

“Canadian black flies can get so thick that they practically choke a panting dog. They bite around the eyes and ears until scabs form.”

– Collins, Miki and Julie Collins. Dog Driver: A Guide for the Serious Musher, Loveland: Alpine Publications, 1991

— Horse fly bites are extremely painful for dogs:

“Some of the largest flies in the world, horse flies are common throughout North America and produce extremely painful bites. The horse fly’s mouthparts account for their painful bite—while many small insects use a piercing proboscis to feed on the blood of other animals, the horse fly is equipped with a scissorlike pair of mandibles.”

– Orkin, Flies and Dogs, website article, 2013

— Many more wasps in Alaska than in 1900:

Wasp in Alaska. Wasp stings cause painful swellings in dogs. When a dog is stung several times, he can go into shock as a result of absorbed toxins. Dog who have been stung previously may go into anaphylactic shock. Photo attributed to alaskanent on flickr.

Wasp in Alaska. Chained sled dogs cannot escape painful wasp stings. When a dog is stung several times, he can go into shock as a result of absorbed toxins. Dogs who have been stung previously may go into anaphylactic shock. Photo attributed to alaskanent on flickr.

“There are now about 11 species of yellow jackets in Alaska, and many more species of other types of wasps, [Dr. Derek] Sikes said. That far surpasses the total of two species of wasps observed a century earlier by the 1900 Harriman Expedition to Alaska.”

– Dr. Sikes is an entomologist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
– George Bryson, Anchorage Daily News, May 18, 2008

“Long-term chaining during the hot summer months can result in countless insect bites, dehydration, and heat stroke.”

Cincinnati Enquirer, May 29, 2009

—  Stings cause erythema, edema, pain and even death:

“Four possible reactions are seen after insect stings: local reactions, regional reactions, systemic anaphylactic responses, and less commonly, delayed-type hypersensitivity. Clinical signs of bee and wasp stings include erythema, edema, and pain at the sting site. Occasionally, animals develop regional reactions. Onset of life-threatening, anaphylactic signs typically occur within 10 minutes of the sting.”

– Fitzgerald, KT and Flood, AA. Clinical techniques in small animal practice. 2006 Nov.; 21 (4):194-204

—  Mosquitoes can infect dogs with heartworm:

“All dogs are at risk for fleas, ticks, heartworms, and internal parasites. Left untreated these parasites can be dangerous to your dog’s health.”

– VCA East Anchorage Animal Hospital, Anchorage, Alaska, website article, 2012

Dog's heart infected with heartworm nematodes. Photo attributed to Alan R. Walker on Wikimedia

Dog’s heart infected with heartworm nematodes. Photo attributed to Alan R. Walker on Wikimedia

—  Heartworm disease – What it is and what causes it?

“Heartworm disease is a serious disease that results in severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage, and death in pets, mainly dogs, cats, and ferrets. It is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. The worms are spread through the bite of a mosquito. The dog is the definitive host, meaning that the worms mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring while living inside a dog. The mosquito is the intermediate host, meaning that the worms live inside a mosquito for a short transition period in order to become infective (able to cause heartworm disease). The worms are called “heartworms” because the adults live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of an infected animal.”

– U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), website article, 2012

—  Dogs may get infections from scratching itchy mosquito bites:

“And since dogs tend to keep scratching itchy areas, even a minor mosquito bite may lead to a secondary infection.”

– Virbac E-Newsletter, August 30, 2012

“Ticks, biting flies, and mosquitoes can cause red swollen areas of the skin, which itch and can sometimes become infected.”

– WebVet.com, website article, 2013

Alaska State Bird: The Mosquito. Vintage postcard. "In Alaska, the mosquito is the state bird, or so the joke goes because of the size and numbers of the bloodsucking insects" Swarms of these huge bloodsucking mosquitoes bite and torture chained Iditarod sled dogs.

Alaska State Bird: The Mosquito. Vintage postcard. “In Alaska, the mosquito is the state bird, or so the joke goes because of the size and numbers of the bloodsucking insects.” Swarms of huge, bloodsucking mosquitoes bite and torture chained Iditarod sled dogs.

— Alaska is home to about 17 trillion mosquitoes:

“Alaska is home to about 17,489,393,939,393 mosquitoes, minus the one you just slapped. Yes, that’s 17 trillion. At 0.0000055 pounds each, the combined weight of Alaska mosquitoes is about 96 million pounds.”

– Ned Rozell, Alaska Dispatch News, May 16, 2015

— The mosquito is Alaska’s state bird:

“In Alaska, the mosquito is the state bird, or so the joke goes because of the size and numbers of the bloodsucking insects. The mosquitoes can get so thick hikers have been known to walk while swatting them away with branches from a tree.”

– David Strege, GrindTV, July 29, 2013

Alaska has many mosquitoes and this photo shows a small number of them. Mosquitoes attack dogs who are chained outside. Photo attributed to mecocrus on flickr, taken July 8, 2008

Alaska has many huge, fierce mosquitoes. This photo shows only a small number of them. Chained Iditarod sled dogs are tormented by the painful attacks of biting mosquitoes. Photo attributed to mecocrus on flickr.

—  The air is thick with mosquitoes:

‘If you’re Dallas Seavey, it’s living in a two-story yurt in Alaska where mosquitoes are so thick you hang a bug zapper inside your living room, about 10 feet away from where your toddler’s swing hovers above a couch.”

– Jill Burke, Alaska Dispatch, July 17, 2012

“They [Tom Daily and his with Fidaa] were living in a cloud of mosquitoes, surrounded by hungry dogs…”

– O’Donoghue, Brian Patrick. My Lead Dog was a Lesbian, New York: Vintage Books, 1996

—  Huge, fierce mosquitoes:

“The snow is almost gone and we begin to see tufts of green here and there. Mud (the kind that sucks off your boots) will be a perpetual hazard for the next few weeks. We expect the first ‘bird-sized’ mosquitoes soon.”

– The SP Kennel Dog Log, May 5, 2012
– The SP Kennel is owned by Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore

Chained Iditarod sled dogs can't protected themselves from huge, vicious mosquitoes in Alaska. Photo attributed to mecocrus on flickr.

Chained Iditarod sled dogs can’t protect themselves from painful attacks by swarms of huge, vicious, biting mosquitoes in Alaska. Photo attributed to mecocrus on flickr.

“The mosquitoes are deadly here. They are not only huge, but they are fierce and out in droves.”

– Jan Steves, Iditarod musher, Living My Dream blog, part 3, June 28, 2013

—  Worst invasion of mosquitoes ever seen:

“With the heat comes an invasion of mosquitoes many are calling the worst they’ve ever seen.”

– Rachael D’Oro, Associated Press, June 19, 2013

— Arctic warming means faster mosquito growth:

“With the Arctic warming at about twice the rate of the rest of the world, faster emergence of mosquitoes is likely to be the trend into the future, though there will be year-to-year variability, [Lauren] Culler said.”

– Lauren Culler is an Arctic postdoctoral fellow at Dartmouth.
– Yereth Rosen, Alaska Dispatch News, September 15, 2015

Dogs on chains are vulnerable to attacks by humans:

“Alaska State Troopers and school officials are investigating the slaying of a Teller teacher’s dog by some of her students, officials said Tuesday.

Five kids — three girls and two boys — between the ages of 13 and 15 have been linked to the stabbing death of the sled dog Willow, a member of the teacher’s mushing team.

Trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson said two of the girls were present when the dog was killed but didn’t participate in the stabbing. The third girl held the dog’s head and comforted it while the two boys stabbed it with knives, troopers said.”

– Tataboline Brant, Anchorage Daily News, November 10, 2004

“Alaska State Troopers found the 18 sled dogs that were reportedly shot to death in the village of Manley three weeks ago.

The dogs disappeared on April 8. The dogs were gone when their owner, recreational musher Chuck Parker, returned home from work that day. There was evidence the dogs had been shot and removed from a dog lot in the small town at the end of the Elliott Highway.”

– Staff Report, Fairbanks News-Miner, April 28, 2005

“A Russian Mission man charged with stabbing four chained sled dogs, leaving two of them dead, pleaded no contest to animal cruelty Tuesday in a Bethel courtroom.

Carl Vaska, 20, was drunk on home brew the night of Dec. 7, when he took a knife and slashed the animals where they were chained in a yard, according to an affidavit from an investigating state wildlife trooper. Vaska’s parents later found bloody gloves in his room.”

– Julia O’Malley, Anchorage Daily News, February 12, 2009

“A veteran Iditarod musher returned home to find his best lead dog dead. Chris Knott’s dog, named Charlie, died from a gunshot wound. ‘It suggests it was somebody that knew me and was staking out the kennel,’ said Knott, who lives in nearby Two Rivers.”

“A necropsy determined Charlie quickly bled to death after being shot from behind, possibly by a rifle.”

– Associated Press, Seattle Times, August 26, 1999

This dog could get painful splinters in his mouth, paws, other parts of his body from the rotting wood at the top of his shelter, photo attributed to Tom Brady on flickr

This sled dog could get painful splinters in his mouth, paws, or other parts of his body from the rotting wood at the top of his shelter, photo attributed to Tom Brady on flickr

Some chained dogs have shelters with rotting wood and dangerous splinters:

“Head and neck abscesses are caused by are caused by infected animal bites, and sharp objects that work their way back into the soft tissues, such as wood splinters….”

– Debra M. Eldredge, DVM, Lisa D. Carlson, DVM, Delbert G. Carlson, DVM, James M. Giffin, MD, Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2010

“For instance, wood can easily splinter, leaving tiny shards in your dog’s mouth, which then become infected.”

– Vetinfo.com, article, 2013

“A swollen toe may mean a sprain, a broken one, or an infection from a wood splinter, nail or wire puncture, bite, or plant.”

Dr. Greg Martinez, DVM, website article, 2013

Tethers can strangle dogs:

“Chains/ropes can get tangled and result in the dogs’s being strangled or dangerously restricted.”

Mohawk & Hudson River Humane Society, New York, December, 2002, website

Chained dogs can get frostbite in less than an hour:

“According to the American Animal Hospital Association, animals are vulnerable to frostbite and hypothermia in less than an hour.”

– Bill Curtis, Bakersfield News, January 14, 2008

[Information about frostbite and hypothermia hazards]

Frozen water, maggot infested food, defecation packed down as dirt or mud:

“Fiske painted a picture of misery: frozen or overturned water bowls, maggot infested food, defecation in a confined area that gets packed down as dirt or mud, neck sores from yanking on collars, or even collars embedded in the dog’s neck because of owner negligence.”

– Robert Fiske is the director of Maine Friends of Animals
– Lucy L. Martin, The Lincoln County News, May 4, 2005

Dogs chained next to incompatible dogs are constantly stressed and on alert:

“A dog tethered next to an incompatible dog will constantly be [on] alert and stressed because it can’t escape the situation. The animal’s emotional and physical health will decline.”

– Jill Taggart holds a PhD in Behavioural Psychology and a Master of Science in Animal Behaviour. She is a practising Clinical Animal Behaviourist.
– Jill Taggart, Vancouver Sun, February 5, 2011

Continuous confinement by a tether is inhumane:

Iditarod sled dog tethered on short chain must do a high jump just to get into his shelter. Photo attributed to Barrison on flickr

Iditarod sled dog tethered on short chain must make a high jump just to get into his shelter. The dog must make a big jump to get down on the ground, and this can cause orthopedic injuries. Photo attributed to Barrison on flickr

“Our experience in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has led us to conclude that continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane.”

– The United States Department of Agriculture, 1996

“What we’ve done we’ve done for the citizens of this town because of safety first, and it’s a humane thing to do for the animals.”

– Councilman Woody Jumper of Big Spring, Texas talking about the city council voting to ban tethering
– Thomas Jenkins, Big Spring Herald, July 28, 2004

“If you need to secure your dog, get a big fence. If you need a security system, install an electronic one. If you want a dog but aren’t willing to love it and consider its needs, get a stuffed one.

Chaining a dog all the time is no way to treat a thinking, breathing, trusting, loving creature.”

– Marty Becker, DVM, Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, January 21, 2003

“Dogs offer people undying loyalty and unconditional love. In return, they ask for nothing more than a sense of belonging.” “To banish a dog permanently to the backyard, while the rest of his ‘family’ enjoy one another inside, is a betrayal of this loving pact — that is not way to treat man’s best friend”

– Nathan J. Winograd, The Ithaca Journal, November 21, 2003
– Winograd is the executive director of the Tompkins County SPCA

Chaining makes dogs aggressive:

“In a 2004 study I conducted in a commercial sled-dog kennel in Quebec, I found that tethering significantly increased aggression with neighbouring dogs, and led to less exploratory behaviours, fewer social behaviours, more injury and, importantly, less sleep than in an untethered group pen of three compatible dogs. Untethered, there was no aggression and the dogs began to self-regulate their behaviours and form hierarchies.”

– Jill Taggart holds a PhD in Behavioural Psychology and a Master of Science in Animal Behaviour. She is a practising Clinical Animal Behaviourist.
– Jill Taggart, Vancouver Sun, February 5, 2011

“Some communities want dogs to stay on their own property. In a land without many fences or boundaries, this means tying the dogs up with chains. This practice comes with dangerous side effects. Bored and frustrated dogs lunge at people. As frustration mounts, so does their aggression. The practice of chaining dogs is detrimental to public safety, so much so that many industry professionals want the practice to be banned.”

“A different picture emerges in the areas where dogs are allowed to roam freely. These dogs do not suffer from chain rage. Their behaviour is nothing short of amazing. There is little aggression. Contrary to popular belief, no alpha leader emerges to rule the pack with a firm hand. They behave like family and friends.”

– Yvette Van Veen, Toronto Star, Friday 27, 2012
– Yvette Van Veen is an animal behaviour consultant.

Dogs start to fight.

Sled dogs start to fight. The dogs live at the end of chains, which makes them aggressive.

“NAPASKIAK, Alaska — Authorities say a sled dog mauled to death a 3-year-old girl in the southwest Alaska village of Napaskiak (nuh-PASS’-key-ack).

Alaska State Troopers say Krystal Brink was playing outside Thursday night with other children and wandered into a dog yard when she was attacked by one of the dogs — even though the owner had the team tied up.”

– Associated Press, May 21, 2010

“Sled dogs attacked and killed a four-year-old boy in a remote Nunavut village this week, according to police. RCMP officers in the town of Pangnirtung responded to a call Monday morning reporting that a boy had been mauled by three dogs who had broken free from chains.”

“The three animals, all part of an area sled team, were later ‘located and put down by a local.'”

Vancouver Sun, March 25, 2010

“Confine your dog in a fenced yard or dog run when it is not in the house. Never tether or chain your dog because this can contribute to aggressive behavior.”

– American Veterinary Medical Association, website article, May 15, 2003

“He [Eric Blow] said more effective are laws like the one in Louisville that bar dogs from being chained for more than one hour a day because chaining a dog has been shown to create aggressive behavior”

– Eric Blow, director of Metro Animal Services in Louisville, KY
– Andrew Wolfson, The Courier Journal, May 13, 2004

“‘These are the dogs that bite,’ said Robert Goldman, president of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Assn. ‘When someone ties a dog to a chain in their yard, you’ve got a dog that is a time bomb.'”

– Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times, August 19,2004

“‘You wouldn’t tie your children outside,’ he [Roger Mugford] said. ‘Keep them indoors with you. And if you can’t do that, don’t keep a dog.’

‘Dogs, just like human beings who get locked up for no reason, will get mean and bitter,’ he said.”

– Roger Muford is an international dog expert
– Glenn Bohn, Vancouver Sun, April 28, 2003

“It triggers a built-in thigmotaxic (opposition reflex) response to lunge toward stimuli.

It introduces the pain or discomfort of the restraint into any interaction. Both are common motives for aggression on their own; added to perceived threats and thigmotaxis, they are explosive.

It exacerbates defensive aggression by preventing escape but offering no protection from actual or perceived threats.

It reinforces aggression because passersbys “flee” when the dog lunges at them, thereby rewarding the lunge.”

– Dennis Fetko, Ph.D. December, 2002, Dr. Dog website
– Dr. Fetko is and expert in animal training and behavior

“In addition to frustration, the constant physical restraint promotes excessive territoriality, which may be manifested as aggression. These attacks are completely unnecessary as they are easily preventable by using a secure fence for containment.”

– Elizabeth Shull, DVM, president of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
– Marty Becker, DVM, Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, January 21, 2003

“Close to home, a child would wander away from playmates and enter a neighbor’s dog lot. The huskies there were sometimes hungry and ill-tempered. No one played with them, no one petted them. Some of the males were aggressive. So, when the child tried to cross the lot, a dog might lunge, taking down his victim as quickly as a predator on easy prey.”

”’Virtually none of the serious attacks in (Bush) Alaska come from roving bands of dogs,’ DeGross said. ‘They’re always attacked when they wander into the area where dogs are chained up.”’

– Denny Gross is the former executive director of the Alaska Native Health Board
– Doug O’Harra, Anchorage Daily News, November 3, 1996

“On Oct. 23, 1994, when 2-year-old Tracy Ann Ishnook was playing outside her house in Koliganek. Her parents were installing insulation in the house and believed their daughter was outdoors with other children. But Tracy had wandered into a relative’s dog lot.

When her father, Wassillie Ishnook Sr., found her, a sled dog had torn her nose nearly off and was attacking her legs.

”Her face was all bloody, her leg was torn — and when I saw her leg, I thought we’d lost her,” Ishnook said.”

“Outside of the village, the horror of the Koliganek attack struck people with as much impact as a death. Yet it was hardly an isolated case. A boy had died only a few months earlier in the Yukon River village of Pitkas Point in a mauling by a loose sled dog. A girl in the Brooks Range village of Ambler had been scalped by a dog that was secured.”

– Doug O’Harra, Anchorage Daily News, November 3, 1996

“A 2-year-old girl in a southwest Alaska village lost her leg and was badly bitten in the face last weekend after wandering into a sled dog lot. A week earlier in a village near Kotzebue, a dog tore the scalp off a 4-year-old girl.

The two maulings are the latest examples of what public health officials describe as a serious, long-standing threat to children throughout rural Alaska dogs.”

– Tom Bell, Anchorage Daily News, November 4, 1994

“A village toddler who set out for a short walk to his grandmother’s house was found an hour later near his uncle’s dog lot mauled to death by a sled dog.”

– Natalie Phillips, Anchorage Daily News, June 10, 1997

“A 3yearold Talkeetna boy died Saturday afternoon after being attacked by a HuskyMalemute sled dog that had broken its tether.

The youngster, Jerry Lee Cornell, was declared dead at Valley Hospital in Palmer. The dog, belonging to musher John Barton, was taken by animal control officers.”

– Larry Campbell, Anchorage Daily News, May 7, 1990

“Chained in a prison runway, surrounded by barbed wire and unclimbable fence, these canine convicts have been known to be pretty tough dudes and dudettes, capable of killing each other over scraps of meat and bits of territory.”

– Andrew Perala, Anchorage Daily News, March 21, 1987
– Mr. Perala was talking about dogs dropped from the Iditarod who were sent to Hiland Hiland Mountain Correctional Center.

“Extended tethering to dog houses, trees and poles increases the likelihood of the dog developing aggressive tendencies.”

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, May 19, 2005

“‘Chaining dogs makes them more aggressive–the shorter the chain, the greater the aggression,’ said Nicholas H. Dodman, a Ph.D. in veterinary medicine at Tufts University in Grafton, Mass.”

– Michael Zitz, The Free Lance-Star, December 12, 2006

“‘This bill helps protect dogs from cruelty and enhances public safety by preventing aggressive animal behavior that can result from inhumane tethering,’ California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said when he signed the it into law.”

– Michael Zitz, The Free Lance-Star, December 12, 2006

Inherently dangerous— Chaining turns dogs into semi-wild animals:

“[Jake] Berkowitz and other witnesses said the case isn’t so simple. Sled dog yards are inherently dangerous places and the semi-wild animals can be provoked when strange dogs and small children walk through their territory, they said.”

 “The Berkowitz dogs can be seen lunging and straining at their chains, running in circles and barking. That should show how dangerous the yard is, Berkowitz said.”

“Mushing is the state sport, [Myron] Angstman told the board. By allowing sled dog yards to exist, Alaskans are saying that these dangerous places represent an acceptable risk.”

– Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, June 20, 2013
– Jake Berkowitz is an Iditarod dog musher.
– Myron Angstman is Jake Berkowitz’s attorney.

Children have a greater chance of dying from dog attacks:

“Statistics show that the younger the person who’s attacked, the greater the chance they’ll die. For example, of the 36 dog-bite deaths in Alaska since 1940, all were children under 10, according to the state epidemiology office.”

“The deaths of these children make Alaska’s rate of dog-attack fatalities 26 times the national average, says a 1979-to-1994 study by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.”

“The biggest threat is in the villages where there can be as many as 400 to 500 sled dogs, said Ron Perkins, who oversees injury prevention programs for Indian Health Services.”

– Linda Weiford, Anchorage Daily News, April 14, 1998

2-year-old girl nearly killed by Iditarod dog:

“The husky belonging to Big Lake musher Jake Berkowitz nearly killed the toddler, Elin Shuck, animal control officers say. The girl was walking through Berkowitz’s dog yard of more than 50 huskies with her mother and young siblings on May 10 when Wizard broke free from his chain and attacked, both sides agree.” 

“Elin suffered permanent damage to her vocal chords and nearly lost her ear when Wizard pierced her throat and shook her, [Jennifer] Sundquist told the board.” 

– Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, June 20, 2013
– Jennifer Sundquist is Elin’s mother
– Elin is two-years-old.

Chaining forces dogs to go against their natural instincts:

Iditarod sled dog is forced to live on extremely short chain.

Iditarod sled dog is forced to live on extremely short chain.

Dr. Paula Kislak: “The other thing besides social interaction, and dogs definitely are pack animals and they do well and would normally chose to live in a social grouping, is that they’re also very clean animals, which is why we’re able as humans to house-break them, because we take advantage of their natural fastidious tendencies to not want to soil the area that they live in their “cave.” So when they’re tethered on four foot tethers and that’s the extent of the distance they can go, the area becomes completely soiled with fecal contamination and urine, stench, and ammonia. And it’s just a mess. And the dogs are forced to live in this, which is also completely contrary to their nature. And that’s the type of thing that the newspapers don’t see or report as well. And that’s day to day to day, year after year after year. It’s just bad.”

– Dr. Paula Kislak, DVM, is president of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights
– She made these remarks in an interview with Janice Blue, the host of Go Vegan Texas (KPFT), on February 27, 2006

“Their inability to reach another dog — an evolutionary necessity, as those on the margins of a pack are potential prey — is not normal.”

– Jill Taggart holds a PhD in Behavioural Psychology and a Master of Science in Animal Behaviour. She is a practising Clinical Animal Behaviourist.
– Jill Taggart, Vancouver Sun, February 5, 2011

“When the dogs are first put on a chain, they tend to throw a temper-tantrum.”

– Freedman, Lew and Jonrowe, DeeDee. Iditarod Dreams, Seattle: Epicenter Press, 1995

Four-month-old puppies live on chains:

“At age 4 months they are put on a chain.”

– Nicki Nielsen is talking about Susan Butcher’s dogs.
– Nielsen, Nicki J. The Iditarod: Women on the Trail, Anchorage: Wolfdog Publications, 1986

Chaining creates abnormal conditions by keeping dogs in solitary confinement:

“Virtually every dog who spends most of the day on the end of a chain will show temperament problems- no surprise to those who understand canine behavior. Chaining by definition, keeps a dog in solitary confinement, continually thwarting its pact instinct to be with other animals or with its human ‘pack’.”

-Jean V. Johnson, WHS/SPCA News, 1991

“Dogs are very social creatures. They need to interact. The permanent tethering of dogs denies them any possibility for normal social behaviors. In fact, this situation denies them any possibility of normal exercising, as well.”

– Suzanne Cliver, D.V.M., Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, July, 1998

Iditarod dogs live on rocks. The rocks hurt their paws. Photo attributed to Ins1122 on flickr, August 25, 2012

Iditarod dogs live on rocks. The rocks hurt their paws. Photo attributed to Ins1122 on flickr.

Tethered dogs get little attention and exercise

Most dogs stay on their chains:

“Each dog was not exercised every day. Older dogs never got off their chains. Dogs who made the main team were run a few times a week. Puppies were run once or twice a week. Dogs that didn’t make the main team were rarely put into harness. Most dogs just sat on their chains and that is what their life consisted of.”

– Ashley Keith, former musher and Iditarod kennel employee who now rescues and rehabilitates abused sled dogs
– Email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, April 28, 2007

“The dogs that do grow up are chained for their entire time as adults. Only seasonally when in race training, when actually racing or during tour operations do they get exercised, and then perhaps once a day or once a week. As soon as they finish work in the sled team they are returned straight back onto the chain, there is no free time to move about freely, run or socialise with other dogs ever.”

“Even elder dogs who had run the Iditarod many times spent their retirement days looking listless on the end of a chain and never being set free. I observed two old dogs who had run the Iditarod many times continuously chained, one legendary dog had completed over six Iditarod races.”

– Jane Stevens, email sent to the Sled Dog Action Coalition on March 28, 2011
– Jane Stevens was a dog handler for a top 10 Iditarod musher.

Dogs don’t get daily attention:

“The dogs didn’t get daily attention. Unless the dogs were being run, they didn’t get handled. Handlers scooped poop around them and fed them by throwing their food in a rusty, disgusting food dish or on the ground. The mushers themselves had little interaction with their dogs except for riding on the training ATV or the sled behind them. Their handlers did everything else.”

– Ashley Keith, former musher and Iditarod kennel employee who now rescues and rehabilitates abused sled dogs
– Email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, April 28, 2007

– How much attention will these dogs get?
(One person is to care for 100 dogs and work on maintenance and construction projects.)

“Iditarod Champion Dallas Seavey and his wife Jen are looking for a responsible, hard working person to care for their kennel of 100 Alaskan Huskies for the summer. In addition to kennel chores, there are extensive property maintenance and construction projects planned for the homestead.”

– Dallas and Jen Seavey job posting on CoolWorks.com, March 22, 2013

Tethered dogs go 'mad' or become 'kennel crazy'

“‘They basically go mad,’ [Nicholas] Dodman said, when chained for extended periods of time.”

– Nicholas H. Dodman, a Ph.D. in veterinary medicine at Tufts University in Grafton, Mass. – Michael Zitz, The Free Lance-Star, December 12, 2006

“Most dogs don’t get off the chain. These dogs go ‘kennel crazy.’ Some obsessively licked their paws and legs raw. Many run their circle perimeter over and over and over and wear a deep path in the ground from doing it so much. Others obsessively dig holes. It’s very, very sad to watch.”

– Ashley Keith, former musher and Iditarod kennel employee who now rescues and rehabilitates abused sled dogs
– Email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, April 28, 2007

Chained dog lives in dilapidated structure. Photo courtesy of SledDogma.org

Chained dog lives in dilapidated structure.
Photo courtesy of SledDogma.org

Tethering makes dogs eager to run

“First of all, the dogs will be super eager to go after being tied to a stake for 6 months, and will take off at a breakneck speed if you can’t hold them down.”

– Joee Redington, Jr., Iditarod musher and writer
– Vaudrin, Bill, compiler of articles. Racing Alaskan Sled Dogs, Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Publishing Company, 1976

“If you take a dog that’s been tethered in the yard, however, and put a harness on him, hitch him to a sled and take off out of the yard, he feels wild abandon. That is essentially the same as turning him loose, and he will eagerly look forward to the times you show up with a harness. Then he is free of his restrictive, limited chain.”

– Bomhoff, Burt. Iditarod Alaska: The life of a Sled Dog Musher, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2013
– Burt Bomhoff served on the Iditarod’s board of directors, as Iditarod president for many years, and ran dogs in the race seven times.

Chained dogs likely to develop heatstroke

Iditarod dog kennels have no shade; shelters don’t permit airflow:

Most Iditarod dog shelters are on open plots of land that have no shade. The vast majority of shelters are so close to the ground the dogs can’t go underneath them. Inside their shelters, dogs get no relief from the heat, since most don’t permit enough airflow to create a cooling effect. These shelters are small. Each one has a solid flat roof and floor, three solid walls and a fourth wall with a small hole. Some shelters are made from metal or plastic. These materials can become extremely hot.

– Sled Dog Action Coalition

Heatstroke common in chained dogs deprived of water and/or shade:

“Nonexertional heatstroke most commonly develops when dogs are confined in an overheated enclosure or chained outdoors and deprived of water and/or shade.”

– Flournoy SW, Wohl JS, Macintire DK. Heatstroke in dogs: Pathophysiology and predisposing factors. Compen Contin Educ Pract Vet. 2003;25:410–418.

Limited airflow prevents loss of body heat:

“Static air also prevents the movement of warm air, decreasing convection and further loss of body heat.”

– Flournoy SW, Wohl JS, Macintire DK. Heatstroke in dogs: Pathophysiology and predisposing factors. Compen Contin Educ Pract Vet. 2003;25:410–418.

— Summers in Alaska can be very hot:

Temperatures in Willow, Alaska during the summer have been as high as 89 °F; in Fairbanks they’ve been as high as 94 °F.

– weather.com, 2013

“All-time highs were recorded elsewhere [other than Anchorage], including 96 degrees on Monday 80 miles to the north in the small community of Talkeetna….”

– Rachael D’Oro, Associated Press, June 19, 2013

“Another HOT day in Eagle as they reached 87 degrees at the airport. That is the 6th consecutive day of 80 degrees or higher!”

– National Weather Service, Fairbanks, Tweet, May 22, 2015

Sled dogs nearly killed by chains

Dogs almost choked to death by their chains:

Kuskokwim River banks. When the land under tethered Iditarod sled dogs falls into the Kuskokwim River, the dogs are almost choked to death by their chains. Photo attributed to Travis on flickr.

Kuskokwim River banks. When the land under tethered Iditarod sled dogs falls into the Kuskokwim River, the dogs are almost choked to death by their chains. Photo attributed to Travis on flickr.

“Just as it was getting dark Saturday evening, Akiak resident and dog musher Mike Williams Sr. stepped outside to see his dog lot falling into the Kuskokwim River and seven of his sled dogs being pulled into the water.

‘They were beginning to choke,’ Williams said, ‘but they’re alive, they’re okay now. They got them just in time,’ Williams said.

Williams says the dogs were hanging by their chains, with their bodies dangling over the eroding banks.”

“What Williams experienced is called mass erosion.”

“Areas along the Kuskokwim are no strangers to erosion, especially in the era of Alaska’s climate change. But in Akiak, erosion commonly occurs during breakup season, when the river flows faster, not in late September.

The sediment in communities along the Kuskokwim is composed primarily of silt, a fine gradient, and it’s held together by permafrost.

When the temperatures rise, the permafrost melts, weakening the riverbanks. When a heavy rain comes, it can tear the land away.”

– Lakeidra Chavis, KYUK, Alaska Public Media, September 22, 2015