Latest Iditarod News

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Big Iditarod fan, Alice Rogoff, buys Anchorage Daily News

Alaska Dispatch, a six-year-old website owned and published by Alice Rogoff, the wife of the billionaire David Rubenstein, is buying the 68-year-old Anchorage Daily News from the McClatchy Company for $34 million, the two companies announced Tuesday afternoon.”

- Leslie Kaufman, The New York Times, April 8, 2014

“‘I came back six months (after Hughes) to fly the Iditarod with (Smith), she [Alice Rogoff] said.

She has since become a big Iditarod fan.”

- Craig Medred, Alaska Dispatch, April 8, 2014

Dan MacEachen indicted for animal abuse

Krabloonik dog with open sores. Krabloonik is owned by Iditarod musher Dan MacEachen. Photo attributed to the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Krabloonik dog with open sores. Krabloonik is owned by Iditarod musher Dan MacEachen. Photo attributed to the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Sick Krabloonik has diarrhea. Photo courtesy of  Voices for the Krabloonik Dogs

Sick Krabloonik has diarrhea. Photo courtesy of Voices for the Krabloonik Dogs

“The owner of an Aspen-area dog-sledding business that has long faced allegations of abuse was indicted Wednesday on eight counts of animal cruelty.

Six counts filed against Dan MacEachen, who owns Krabloonik dog-sledding, are related to food and shelter of dogs and two counts are related to veterinary care, said Sherry Caloia, district attorney for the 9th Judicial District.”

- Christopher N. Osher, Denver Post, December 18, 2013

Jeffrey Holt, convicted of rape

“A Homer jury convicted a North Pole resident and former Iditarod musher Wednesday morning of raping a friend more than two years ago in Homer.

The jury took about a day to convict Jeffrey K. Holt, 52, on one count of first-degree sexual assault and three counts of second-degree sexual assault, according to the Kenai District Attorney’s office.”

- Sam Friedman, – Sam Friedman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, September 5, 2013

“A jury trial begins today for a North Pole resident and former Iditarod musher accused of raping a friend almost two years ago in Homer.

Jeffery K. Holt, 52, was staying with the friend almost two years ago during a fishing trip to Homer when he allegedly had sex with her while she was asleep and heavily intoxicated. 

The woman told Alaska State Troopers she suspected Holt of putting something in her drink, according to the criminal complaint against him.”

- Sam Friedman, Fairbanks News Miner, August 26, 2013

Comfortable seats mushers sit in while racing their dogs into the ground, photo attributed to Alaskan Dude on flickr

Comfortable seats mushers sit in while racing their dogs into the ground, photo attributed to Alaskan Dude on flickr

2-year-old girl nearly killed by Jake Berkowitz's 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.

Lance Mackey arrested for DUI

“Four-time Iditarod and Yukon Quest champion Lance Mackey was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and refusal to submit to a chemical breath test early Sunday morning.”

- Tim Mowry, Fairbanks News Miner, June 3, 2013

Did Paige Drobny's dog Dorado really die from asphyxiation?

Iditarod claims Dorado died while being asphyxiated by snow:

“A dog that died in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race asphyxiated while getting buried in snow during severe wind, officials said Saturday.”

“Dorado belonged to rookie musher Paige Drobny’s team. The dog was dropped from the race Monday and was being cared for in an area set up to car for dogs dropped from the race.”

- Associated Press, March 16, 2013

– Eight dogs buried by snow but only Dorado died:

“As the storm became more severe, volunteers moved just over 100 dogs inside. Due to lack of space, they relocated roughly 30 to what they call “a more protected outdoor area.” According to a press release, an Iditarod Trail Committee Volunteer Veterinarian checked on the dogs around 3:00 a.m. At 8:30 a.m. another round of checks took place. Eight dogs were found buried by drifted snow, including Drobny’s dog Dorado, who was found deceased.”

- Emily Schwing, Alaska Public Radio, KUAC website, March 20, 2013

– Most likely “simple” asphyxiation did not cause Dorado’s death:

“Normally, if a mammal is put into a situation where breathing is prevented, even if asleep, the body will react by vigorously attempting to breathe. If the individual is otherwise normal and the obstruction is external and avoidable, such as with powdery snow covering, then he or she could not asphyxiate in this manner. If, however, the individual had internal injuries or was physically exhausted, it could be that the normal life-saving reaction would not occur or would be ineffectual. The fact that other dogs were covered with snow and, apparently, did not die should suggest that “simple” asphyxiation was not likely the cause.”

- Veterinarian Nedim Buyukmihci, V.M.D., Professor Emeritus of Veterinary Medicine at U.C. Davis, email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, March 18, 2013

Gerald 'Jerry' Sousa charged with misconduct, three counts of third-degree assault, one count of trespassing

“A veteran Iditarod musher has been charged with assault after he fired a gun while driving a four-wheeler on his neighbor’s land late Sunday in Talkeetna, Alaska State Troopers say.

Troopers drove to a home on Cabin Spike Avenue just before 11 p.m. Sunday after neighbors said Gerald ‘Jerry’ Sousa, 54, fired a gun while riding an all-terrain vehicle on their land, according to a trooper dispatch posted online Wednesday.

Sousa, a member of the Iditarod Trail Committee Inc., finished 20th in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race this year. He has competed in every Iditarod since 2002, finishing as high as 16th in 2004. He recently signed up to compete in 2013.

On Sunday night, the troopers met Sousa at his cabin’s front door, which he opened while brandishing a revolver, the trooper dispatch says. ‘He placed one revolver down after several request to do,’ the dispatch says. ‘However, a second revolver was observed in Sousa’s right hand as he hid behind the wall of the log cabin.’”

“Sousa eventually surrendered the second revolver, came out of the cabin with his arms up and was arrested.”

- Casey Grove, Anchorage Daily News, July 18, 2012

Visitors are close. Sled dog pandemonium breaks out, dirt flies through the air, Iditarod musher's kennel, flickr, attributed to ex_magician

Visitors are nearby. Sled dog pandemonium breaks out, dirt flies through the air, Iditarod musher’s kennel, flickr, attributed to ex_magician

Musher who tested positive for marijuana isn't banned from Iditarod

“Juneau musher Matt Giblin has been stripped of his 38th-place finish in the 2012 iditarod after testing positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, race officials said Thursday.”

“An appeals board found that the veteran racer must repay the $1,049 he earned for finishing this year’s race, said Race Marshal Mark Nordman.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, July 6, 2012

From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: The Iditarod could have made Matt Giblin ineligible from participating in future races, but did not do so. Rule 30-Use of Drugs and Alcohol says “Alcohol or drug impairment, the use of prohibited drugs by mushers, and positive results on drug or alcohol tests, administered during a Race are prohibited. Violations of this policy shall result in disqualification from a particular Race, and may result in ineligibility from participation for a specified period of time in future Races.”

State of Alaska gives Iditarod $100,000 - No strings attached

“PRESIDENT’S REPORT – ANDY BAKER

Baker reported that he’d been working in Juneau to get $1,000,000 from the State but was successful in getting $100,000, noting that that opens the door. It’s a start to build upon and said he wants to appoint a new committee with John Handeland in charge to do more lobbying. [Danny] Seybert asked to be part of that legislative committee. He noted that there are no strings on that $100,000.”

- Iditarod Trail Committee, Inc., board of directors meeting minutes, May 5, 2012, Iditarod website

Melanie Gould abandoned her dogs

Gould disappeared without making provisions for dogs to get food and water:

“The search for former Iditarod musher Melanie Gould, who has been missing since she clocked out from her job at the Talkeetna Roadhouse on May 30, was still ongoing Monday, with few new details emerging, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Gould disappeared from her hometown of Talkeetna without telling anyone where she was going, and without any provisions for care for the animals in her small dog kennel.”

- Ben Anderson, Alaska Dispatch, Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Although Gould knew she abandoned her dogs, she stayed away from rescuers:

“Volunteers found Iditarod veteran Melanie Gould alive Saturday in the Cantwell area, more than 11 days after the Talkeetna musher disappeared.”

“‘She indicated that she saw search efforts but stayed away,’ [Megan] Peters wrote in an email.”

- Megan Peters is the Alaska State Trooper’s spokesperson.
- Kyle Hopkins and Casey Grove, Anchorage Daily News, June 12, 2011

Melanie Gould competed in seven Iditarods:

“Gould competed in seven Iditarods, beginning in 2000.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, June 11, 2011

Hank DeBruin told he's not going fast enough and must quit

“Nordman wanted to know why the 47-year-old DeBruin and his 13 Siberian huskies had taken more than nine hours on the 50-mile run from Galena. DeBruin explained that it had been 40 below and that the team was fighting a headwind on the wide-open river.

Nordman, according to DeBruin, wasn’t buying that excuse. He told DeBruin he was too far behind the nearest mushers down the trail. Jane Faulkner, of Kenai, and Celeste Davis, from Montana, were closing on Kaltag, the next checkpoint, as DeBruin was leaving Nulato.

DeBruin argued that though his team was slow, it was still on pace to finish as the fastest-ever red lantern in the Iditarod. Nordman wasn’t buying that, either, DeBruin said

The race marshal announced he was imposing Rule 36, the “competitiveness” rule.”

“DeBruin was well within all of these time limits. He had cleared McGrath with days to spare and reached Galena less than 72 hours behind the arrival of then-race leader Jeff King from Denali. By DeBruin’s reckoning, he was a full day ahead of Iditarod doomsday.

Still, Nordman decided DeBruin was too far out of contact with Davis and Faulkner, who teamed up for most of the 150-mile push up the Yukon to the Kaltag Portage. In the race marshal’s eyes, that apparently put DeBruin in the “unreasonable risk” category, although DeBruin appears as comfortable traveling on the trail as most Iditarod veterans. He has spent a long time around dogs and in the Bush, and it shows in his trail skills.”

- Mark Nordman is the Iditarod Race Marshall.
- Craig Medred, Alaska Dispatch, March 17, 2010

Dog from Lance Mackey's sled team missing in Anchorage

“Friday evening was a tough night for Iditarod champion Lance Mackey, after one of his lead dogs went missing in Anchorage.

Mackey says the dog, Girlfriend, jumped out of her truck kennel Thursday night and took off in the parking lot of the Courtyard Marriott on Spenard Road. He says she was last seen near International Airport Road and Jewel Lake Road.”

- Channel 2 News staff, February 26, KTUU.com

Sick, injured and tired dropped dogs are crammed into a small airplane. The dogs are not properly secured and can be injured or killed by turbulence, to which a small plane is especially vulnerable.

Sick, injured and tired dropped dogs are crammed into a small airplane. The dogs are not properly secured and can be injured or killed by turbulence, to which a small plane is especially vulnerable. Rick Larson’s dog Cirque died on a plane flight.

Alan Peck's two-year old dog, Cirque, dies on plane flight

“Earlier today (at approximately 12 noon AKDT) Iditarod Race officials sent a plane from Nome to Shaktoolik to pick up scratched musher Alan Peck’s dog team.

On the flight back to Nome the aircraft encountered significant turbulence. By the time the pilot was able to land in Golovin, it was discovered that one of the dogs (Cirque, a 2 year-old female) was deceased.”

- Iditarod Advisory, March 23, 2009

Rick Larson's eight year old dog named Omen dies

“An eight year old male named Omen in the team of Rick Larson (Bib #5) died on the Iditarod Trail between Elim and White Mountain earlier today.”

- Iditarod website, March 20, 2009

Warren Palfrey's dog Maynard dies

A five year old male named Maynard in the team of Warren Palfrey (Yellowknife NWT, Canada) died on the trail between Safety and Nome late last evening. The incident occurred about an hour before Palfrey’s arrival.

Two dogs die on Dr. Lou Packer's team in 2009

“Two more dogs have died during the 2009 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Musher Lou Packer, a rookie from Wasilla, was overdue on his run from the ghost town of Iditarod to Shageluk along with two other teams on Monday when race officials dispatched an Iditarod Air Force pilot to search for them.

When spotted by the pilot, Packer signaled he was in distress, according to an Iditarod press release.

Upon landing, the pilot discovered that two of Packer’s 15 dogs had died.”

- Channel 2 News Staff, KTUU-TV, KTUU.com website, March 17, 2009
- Lou Packer is a physician.

Jeff Holt's dog Victor dies in 2009 Iditarod

“A dog running the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Jeff Holt’s team died suddenly early Tuesday morning, according to a press release from the race’s Anchorage headquarters.

It happened between the Rainy Pass and Rohn checkpoints.

A necropsy will be conducted on the 6-year-old male named Victor. A board-certified pathologist will try to determine the cause of death, the press release said.”

- KTUU.COM, March 10, 2009

Rob Loveman eliminated for not competing

“2009 Iditarod Rookie Musher Rob Loveman (Bib #50) was withdrawn from the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at 8:15 this evening at the Ophir Checkpoint per Iditarod Race Rule 36 (which states): A team may be withdrawn that is out of the competition and is no longer making a valid effort to compete. The Seeley Lake, Montana musher had 14 dogs on his team when he was withdrawn.”

- Iditarod website, March 14, 2009

Jeff King to pay fine, restitution in Denali Park illegal hunting case

“Iditarod champion musher Jeff King was ordered to pay a $4,000 fine and another $750 in restitution to the National Park Service on Friday for illegally killing a moose just inside Denali National Park and Preserve more than a year ago.”

- Tim Mowry, Fairbanks News-Miner, December 6, 2008

FAA violated federal law to help Iditarod

“On occasion in the past, said FAA inspector Stephen Powell, the Iditarod has interfered with airport operations, but the real problem is that the Iditarod has used the airport for free. Federal law plainly states that commercial activities staged on airport grounds should generate revenue for the airport, he said.

‘The state has received millions of dollars in grant money,’ Powell added. ‘With those grant monies come obligations.’

The FAA tried hard to get the Iditarod booted from the Willow Airport proper last year. The agency threatened the state with a loss of airport funding. The state responded by proposing to clear a forested area away from the runway for staging the restart.

The lot never got cleared, however, and the Iditarod almost lost the Willow restart. With the FAA threatening to intervene, negotiations to gain access to the airport were under way almost until the day mushers left for Nome. Top state officials finally ordered DOT administrators in the Valley to let the Iditarod use the airport.

‘There’s politics involved with it,’ Powell said, ‘and my heart goes out to the (local) state people. It’s the flag and apple pie and the Iditarod and ‘Don’t stand in the way of this, buddy.’

Not only is the Iditarod a popular institution in Alaska, one of the members of its board of directors happens to be Jim Palin — the father-in-law of Gov. Sarah Palin. All of these things give the Iditarod considerable political muscle.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, October 25, 2008

Iditarod champ Jeff King found guilty in Denali Park moose killing

“A federal magistrate has found four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King guilty of illegally killing a moose inside Denali National Park.”

- Chris Freiberg, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Oct. 24, 2008

Some snowmobiles can move at speeds up to 150 mph (240 km/h). Iditarod sled dogs have been killed by snowmobiles. Photo attributed to janandersen_dk on flickr

Some snowmobiles can move at speeds up to 150 mph (240 km/h). Iditarod sled dogs have been injured and killed by snowmobiles. Photo attributed to janandersen_dk on flickr

Jeff King charged with illegal moose kill

“Four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King has been charged in federal court with illegally killing a moose inside the boundaries of Denali National Park and Preserve.

Charging documents filed in Fairbanks this week also accuse the musher of illegally driving an ATV off road in the park during the hunt last fall. Both violations are misdemeanors.

The case was investigated by national park rangers, who discovered a moose kill site inside the north border of the park, Denali spokeswoman Kris Fister said.”

“[John] Leonard and an Alaska state trooper, conducting a hunting patrol, found King at his camp with parts from a freshly killed bull moose, along with an ARGO vehicle, the document says. King had not validated his moose harvest ticket, the affidavit says.

King told investigators that the park needed to mark its boundary better, but that he has hunted in the area for the past nine years and was using a GPS, so he was familiar with the border, the affidavit says. He also told the investigators that he had seen a silver park boundary marker, the document says.

A subsequent search turned up a bone pile about 300 feet north of the park boundary and a mile from King’s camp. However, the bones apparently had been moved from the kill site, which was inside the park boundary about three quarters of a mile from King’s camp and clearly visible from it, the affidavit says.

‘The location of King’s camp is in close proximity to both the bone pile and kill site,’ Leonard says in the affidavit. ‘By King’s own statements he did not know of or see anybody hunting to the east of his camp.’

At the kill site, investigators found parts — including a moose head with the skull plate and antlers cut out — that matched up with those they saw at King’s camp when they first contacted him, the affidavit says. They collected meat samples from the kill site for possible DNA testing.

Tire tracks between the kill site and the bone pile looked like tracks left by an ARGO, the affidavit says.”

- James Halpin, Anchorage Daily News, April 10, 2008

Ed Iten's dog Cargo dies - no cause given

“A 4-year-old male named ‘Cargo’ died at 5:00 pm on Tuesday March 11, 2008. Cargo was part of the team of Kotzebue Alaska musher, Ed Iten (Bib #32). He passed away between Elim and White Mountain. A necropsy will be conducted by a board certified pathologist to make every attempt to determine the cause of death.”

- Iditarod website advisory, March 12, 2008

Jennifer Freking's dog Lorne dies after being hit by snowmachine

“At approximately 10 p.m. last evening, a snowmachiner ran into Jennifer Freking’s team on the Yukon River near Koyukuk. Unfortunately, the incident caused the death of a 3-year-old female named ‘Lorne.’”

- Iditarod website advisory, March 10, 2008

John Stetson's dog Zaster dies of aspiration pneumonia

“A 7-year-old male named ‘Zaster’ in the team of musher #87, John Stetson, died at 0120 this morning. Zaster was dropped at Ophir at 0200 on Friday and had been transported to Anchorage where he was being treated for signs of pneumonia.”

- Iditarod website advisory, March 8, 2008

“The gross necropsy of “Zaster,” a seven year old male from John Stetson’s team, has been completed. Aspiration pneumonia was determined to be the likely cause of death.”

- Iditarod website advisory, March 8, 2008

Ramy Brooks' dog Kate dies - no cause given

A three year old female named Kate, in the team of Ramy Brooks, died this morning on the trail between White Mountain and Safety. A necropsy will now be conducted by a board certified pathologist to make every attempt to determine the cause of death.

- Iditarod Advisories, Iditarod website, March 14, 2007

Did Brooks beat or kick Kate before she died?

“The school teacher saw Iditarod musher Ramy Brooks beat and kick his dogs when they sat down on the lake ice, refusing to keep going.

Pamiptchuk witnessed the beating on Tuesday, March 13 around 6 p.m. ‘I saw Ramy trying to get his team off the glare ice on the lake as they left town,’ Paniptchuk told the Nome Nugget. ‘The team didn’t want to move. At first he scolded them, then he went up front and pulled them, they still didn’t want to go. He was yelling and swearing at them and then went up and down the line, hitting them first with his hands.’

According to Paniptchuk, when the dogs still wouldn’t go, he also kicked a few of them. ‘I heard him swearing and cussing and when they didn’t move, he took his ski pole and started hitting them until they were whining,’ she said.”

“Paniptchuk said that Brooks kept dragging his lead dogs in an attempt to get them going. ‘At one point he lifted his lead dog up by the collar and dropped it. It fell limp to the ground,’ she said.

Ramy Brooks arrived in Nome with a dead dog in the basket. Kate a three-year-old female died on the way from White Mountain to Safety.”

- Diana Haecker, Nome Nugget, March 22, 2007

Matt Hayashida's dog Thong dies of acute pneumonia

“A three year old male named “Thong” in the team of Matt Hayashida, died this morning on the trail between Koyuk and Elim.”.

“A gross necropsy was performed on “Thong” a three year old male in the team of Matt Hayashida. Preliminary indications showed that Thong expired as a result of acute pneumonia. Further studies including histopathology and cultures will be conducted.”

- Iditarod Advisories, Iditarod website, March 14, 2007

Karen Ramstead's dog Snickers dies after seven hours at checkpoint

“Snickers, a six and a half year old female in the team of Karen Ramstead, died at approximately 11 p.m. on Sunday night in the checkpoint of Grayling. Ramstead, of Perryvale, Alberta, Canada, arrived there at 4:06 pm on Sunday with a team of 14 dogs. A gross necropsy will be iniated in an attempt to determine the cause of death.”

- Iditarod Advisory, Iditarod website, March 12, 2007

[Veterinarians are supposed to be at the checkpoints.]

Snickers died from acute hemorrhage due to a gastric ulcer:

“A gross necropsy was performed on Snickers, a six and a half year old female in the team of Karen Ramstead. Preliminary indications showed that Snickers expired as a result of and acute hemorrhage due to a gastric ulcer.”

- Iditarod Advisory, Iditarod website, March 14, 2006

Ben Valks eliminated for being 10 to 12 hours behind

ANCHORAGE – Iditarod officials have booted rookie musher Ben Valks from the 1,100-mile race, citing his slow pace.

Race marshal Mark Nordman said he ordered the Dutch musher withdrawn Saturday because he was no longer competitive.

Valks, of Haarlem, Holland, couldn’t keep up with other back-of-the-pack mushers, Nordman said. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has a rule that allows such mushers to be removed from the race because it is difficult to maintain volunteers in checkpoints long after most mushers have passed.

“We always try to keep the back of the pack together,” Nordman said.

Valks left Unalakleet at 8:39 p.m. Friday night in 72nd and last place among mushers still on the trail. Katrina Pawlaczyk, another rookie, had been gone for more than three hours.

Her lead over Valks grew even more when he encountered difficulty on the 40-mile trip along the Bering Sea coast. He took more than 18 hours to reach Shaktoolik, arriving at 4 p.m. Saturday, almost four hours after Pawlaczyk. Valks arrived with his dogs looking forward to a normal checkpoint rest of six to eight hours. That would have put him 10 to 12 hours behind Pawlaczyk, and Nordman decided that wasn’t acceptable.”

- Alaska Digest, Juneau Empire, March 20, 2006

Ron Cortte's dog Jack dies after veterinarians examine him

“Jack, a 5 year old male from the team of Wisconsin musher Ron Cortte died earlier today at White Mountain Checkpoint. Jack was examined by veterinarians at White Mountain after arriving and appeared normal. Jack expired approximately thirty minutes later.”

No cause of death was given.

- Iditarod Media Advisory, Iditarod website, March 18, 2006

Gastric ulceration. Many sled dogs have died in the Iditarod from gastric ulcerations.

Gastric ulceration. Many sled dogs have died in the Iditarod from gastric ulcerations.

Dr. Jim Lanier's dog Cupid dies from ulcers

“Cupid, a 4 year old female from the team of Chugiak Musher Jim Lanier, died earlier today between the checkpoints of Galena and Nulato.”

- Iditarod Advisory, Iditarod website, March 12, 2006

“The gross necropsy performed on Cupid, a 4 year old female from the team of Jim Lanier’s that died on March 12 has been completed. The cause of death appears likely to be the result of regurgitation and aspiration, secondary to the presence of gastric ulcers.”

- Iditarod Advisory Update, Iditarod website, March 13, 2006

David Sawatzky's dog Bear dies

“Bear, a 3 year old male from the team of Healy musher David Sawatzky, died earlier today between Cripple and Ruby [checkpoints].”

- Iditarod Advisory, Iditarod website, March 11, 2006
- No cause of death was given.

Noah Burmeister's dog Yellowknife dies of acute pneumonia

“The gross necropsy performed on Yellowknife, the 4 year old male from the team of Noah Burmeister which died earlier today, has been completed. According to the board certified veterinary pathologist who conducted the necropsy, preliminary findings indicate that the cause of death was an acute pneumonia.”

- Iditarod Advisory, Iditarod website, March 9, 2006

Veterinarians at checkpoint thought Yellowknife was healthy:

“‘I was in Rainy Pass when I noticed he wasn’t feeling well,’ said the 26-year-old musher who divides his time between Nome and Nenana. ‘I had one of the vets (veterinarians) look at him. The vets couldn’t find anything (wrong).’

With an OK from the canine medical authorites who work each checkpoint along the course of the 1,100-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome, Burmeister made the decision to keep the dog in his team and head up and over the Iditarod high point of Rainy Pass at 3,160 feet. ‘After I got done with my rest [at Rainy Pass], I headed up into the (Dalzell) Gorge and he was doing good until all of a sudden he tipped over,’ Burmeiser said.”

- Kevin Klott, Anchorage Daily News, March 9, 2006

(There are 48 miles between the Rainy Pass and Rohn checkpoints.)

How did the vets miss the symptoms? Or, did they ignore them?

Michael Salvisberg's dog Tyson drowns

“A three-year old male named ‘Tyson,’ from the team of Canadian musher Michael Salvisberg, was dropped in White Mountain and flown to Nome. Tyson’s lead was secured to the skis of a small plane, along with other dogs that were in the process of being transported from the plane to the dog lot. The snap on his lead opened. Race volunteers tried to catch him, but Tyson ran further out on to the Bering Sea ice.”

“Unfortunately, Tyson encountered open water and drowned.”

- Iditarod advisory, Iditarod website, 2005

Doug Swingley's dog Nellie dies from acute pneumonia and intussusception

“A gross necropsy has been completed on ‘Nellie,’ a two-year old female from the team of Montana musher Doug Swingley. The initial results indicate that Nellie had a double intussusception.” “In addition, Nellie was being treated for acute pneumonia.”

- Iditarod website, 2005

Did the vets miss or ignore the symptoms of intussusception? Click: poor vet care

Jason Barron's dog Oakley dies and no cause of death given

“Oakley, a four-year old female from the team of Montana musher Jason Barron, died at approximately 7 p.m. The team was about eleven miles of Safety Checkpoint when the event occurred.

A necropsy will now be conducted to make every attempt to determine the cause of death.”

- Iditarod advisory, March 17, 2005, Iditarod website

[According to the Iditarod's website, Jason Barron spent three minutes at the Safety checkpoint.]

Rachael Scdoris scratches from Iditarod with sick dogs

“The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is over for Rachael Scdoris. The legally blind woman from Oregon scratched Wednesday in Eagle Island.

She made it 771 miles into the race but was still 351 miles away from the finish line in Nome.

She apparently decided to call it quits for the well-being of her team — her dogs are sick.

Her partner and visual guide, Paul Ellering of Minnesota, also decided to scratch in Eagle Island. He finished the race in 2000.”

- Lars Peterson, KTUU-TV, Anchorage, KTUU.com, March 16, 2005

“‘It’s a my-dogs-are-sick thing.’”

- Rachael Scdoris explaining why she scratched
- Jon Little, Cabela’s Idiarod website, March 18, 2005

“The 20-year-old musher from Bend, Ore., said her dogs were infected with a diarrhea-causing virus that struck many teams this year.”

- The Associated Press, March 18, 2005
- The musher is Rachael Scdoris

Paul Gebhardt's dog Rita bleeds internally from ulcers and dies

“Half an hour after a 24-hour rest in the checkpoint of Anvik, a dog in the team of musher Paul Gebhardt of Kasilof died on Saturday, the first to perish in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Veterinarians say they are baffled.

Gebhardt, Iditarod officials reported, was just out of Anvik on the 20-mile trail to Grayling when the dog dropped in its traces.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 12, 2005

“Preliminary findings indicate the cause of death to be the result of anemia, secondary to the presence of gastric ulcers.”

- Iditarod website, 2005

[Rita bled internally from ulcers and died. Iditarod rules require mushers to take two eight hour layovers and one 24 hour layover in a race that's 1,150 miles and spans 8 to 15 days. The remainder of the time the dogs may be racing. Rita died 30 minutes outside Anvik, a checkpoint where Gebhardt took his 24 layover. Did the vets ignore Rita's symptoms? Didn't Rita get a physical exam? Wasn't she observed? Do these vets know what the symptoms of ulcers are?]

Dogs have 61 percent ulcer rate postrace compared to zero percent prerace

“Sustained strenuous exercise was associated with an increased frequency of gastric erosions or ulcerations seen endoscopically (0% prerace versus 61% postrace). A significant postrace increase occurred in the median lactulose to rhamnose ratio in both serum and urine (0.11 versus 0.165, P = .0363; 0.11 versus 0.165, P = .0090, respectively). No significant differences were found in median serum or urinary sucrose concentrations when pre- and postrace values were compared. No correlation was found between visible gastric lesions and the concentration of sucrose in serum or urine samples obtained 4-5 hours after administration of the sugar solutions. We conclude that sustained strenuous exercise is associated with increased intestinal permeability, but the sucrose permeability test as we performed it did not correlate with visible gastric lesions.”

- Davis MS, Willard MD, Williamson KK, Steiner JM, Williams DA. “Sustained strenuous exercise increases intestinal permeability in racing Alaskan sled dogs.” Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 2005 Jan-Feb;19(1):34-9, article abstract on National Library of Medicine website

[The sucrose permeability test is used to detect ulcerations in dogs.]

[Increased intestinal permeablity also known as Leaky Gut or Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS) results from an overly-permeable intestinal lining with spaces between the cells of the gut wall. These spaces allow “foreign” material (bacteria, toxins and food) to leak into the body where they should not be, placing an additional burden on the immune and detoxification systems.]

Two dogs die in 2004 Iditarod

Dog on Iditarod musher’s team dies

Lance Mackey reports death on Farewell Burn

“Lance Mackey of Kasilof takes a load off in his sled as he makes his way to the Iditarod start line. Today Mackey’s dog Wolf died on the trail.

A 5-year-old dog in the team of Lance Mackey of Kasilof died Tuesday, the first animal to perish in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race.

Race marshal Mark Nordman said the dog, named Wolf, died about 20 miles into the 80-mile-long trip mushers make across the desolate Farewell Burn from a cabin in Rohn to the town of Nikolai. Mackey arrived in Nikolai at 10:03 p.m. Tuesday. “I have had an opportunity to discuss and evaluate the circumstances surrounding the death,” Nordman said in a press release. “I have found no signs that should prohibit Lance from continuing.”

Mackey arrived in McGrath, the checkpoint that follows Nikolai on the trail, at 8:43 this morning in 44th place. Eleven dogs remained in his team.

In two previous Iditarod starts, Mackey’s best finish was 36th in 2001. The son of 1978 Iditarod champion Dick Mackey, Lance was diagnosed with cancer after the 2001 race. Surgery and radiation treatment followed and he is now considered cancer free.

Last year, one dog died during the Iditarod. A 7-year-old male in the team of musher Jim Gallea died between White Mountain and Safety, the last checkpoint before Nome.”

- Associated Press, March 10, 2004

Kjetil Bracken’s dog dies.

“[Kjetil] Backen, who was between a quarter-mile and half-mile from the checkpoint when he stopped his sled, said the dog sat down and died.”

“Al Townshend, the head veterinarian at Unalakleet, said racing sled dogs can die suddenly from a number of causes, including aspirating the contents of their stomachs and gastric ulcers. He said the dogs remaining in Backen’s team looked “pretty good.” A vet at the previous checkpoint 90 miles away in Kaltag described them as “phenomenal.

Townshend said Backen’s team also is especially well-conditioned, having 4,000 training miles on them to prepare for this year’s Iditarod, about twice that of many other teams.”

- Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, March 14, 2004

Sled dogs have been injured or killed by tangles in the ganglines.

Sled dogs have been injured or killed in the Iditarod from tangles in the ganglines.

Dog dies in 2003 Iditarod

“A dog died in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the first death in this year’s race.

Joker, a 7-year-old male, was in the team of Jim Gallea.

The dog died Sunday as Gallea was traveling from White Mountain to Safety.

Race marshal Mark Nordman on Monday did not say how the dog died. Tests will be performed to determine the cause of death.

Gallea of Sterling, Alaska, was running his third Iditarod. Norway’s Robert Sorlie won the 1,100-mile race Thursday.

Warm weather forced organizers this year to lengthen the course by 70 miles. They wanted to reduce the risk of the dogs falling through thin ice or slipping on melting snow.

The longer distance angered some animal right activists, who said the decision was made simply to ensure the race goes on.”

Associated Press, 03/17/03

Lung damage found in 81% of dogs who finish the race

“To investigate, the team of researchers examined the airways of 59 sled dogs 24 to 48 hours after they completed the long and arduous race. Their findings are published in the September issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The researchers found that 81% of the canines had “abnormal accumulations” of mucus or cellular debris in their lower airways. This accumulation was classified as moderate to severe in nearly half of the animals, according to the report. There was no evidence that the lung damage could be due to bacterial infection, the authors note. Instead, they say, it was likely caused by cooling and drying out of peripheral airway passages, resulting in injury and inflammation.”

- Reuters Health,Tue Oct 8, 2002, 2:17 PM ET

Dogs in pain prompt musher/physician to give up Iditarod

Physician knows dogs are hurting and won’t run the Iditarod again:

“The Kasilof physician [John Bramante, M.D.] and father of two won’t run the race again, he said, because of the wear and tear it inflicted on his dogs.

‘It’s hard to watch the dogs go through what they do and feel comfortable,’ the 38-year-old musher said during a rest stop at McGrath, midway through the March race.

While massaging tired muscles, tending to bloody paws and treating a case of penile frostbite suffered by one of his lead dogs, Bramante said he was fighting the urge to scratch.

‘It’s a fallacy to think that the dogs aren’t hurting,’ said Bramante.”

- Paula Dobbyn and Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, April 1, 2002

Jonrowe's dog Mark dies from surgery to repair bleeding ulcer

“The Iditarod Trail Committee was notified today by Musher DeeDee Jonrowe that her lead dog Mark died during surgery to repair a stomach ulcer.”

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: Many Iditarod dogs have gastric ulcers and some have died from this condition. Ulcers predispose the dogs to vomiting. Normally, the trachea closes the airway so that foreign material does not enter the lungs. But because these dogs run at such high speeds for such a long period of time, they cannot stop gasping for air despite the vomiting. Consequently, dogs inhale the vomit into their lungs which causes suffocation and death.

According to Michael Matz, a highly regarded expert in gastrointestinal disorders in small animals, the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is the most common cause of gastrointestinal ulceration in small animals (Kirk's Current Veterinary Therapy XII- Small Animal Practice). Rimadyl, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen are just some of the NSAIDs that cause ulcers. These drugs reduce swelling, inflammation, relieve pain and fever, which allows the dogs to run farther and faster. Unfortunately, some dogs pay with their lives for the use of these drugs.]

- Race Advisory, Iditarod website, March 15, 2002

Goro, a 5 year old male dog, dies from a spinal injury

“Jim Oehlschlaeger’s dog Goro died in the 2002 Iditarod. He was a 5 year old male. “The preliminary report released Monday night said the dog suffered a spinal injury in the neck area as the result of a tangle in the gangline.

The accident occurred after Oehlschlaeger missed a turn on the trail and was turning the team around. Goro got ahead of the pair of dogs in front of him, became tangled and when the team was being straightened out, he sustained the fatal injury.”

- Anchorage Daily News, March 12, 2002

Dogs start 2002 Iditarod sick with diarrhea

“He [veterinarian Terry Adkins] saw very little diarrhea along the trial from the ceremonial start Saturday, he said, adding though that John Barron of Helmville told him his dogs had it. Loose stools are a sign of ill health. Sled dogs relieve their bowels on the run.”

[Because the dogs "relieve their bowels on the run," it is likely that the dogs running in back of those who were stricken with diarrhea inhaled this fecal material. The bacterial material it contains could cause infection and death. Sick dogs should be pulled out of the race.]

- Mark Downey, Great Falls Tribune, March 4, 2002

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 dog could get painful splinters in his mouth, paws, or other body parts from the shelter’s rotting wood, photo attributed to Tom Brady on flickr

Keeping dogs continuously chained is massive psychological cruelty

[Iditarod dogs are kept on chains as short as 4 feet. Many lots have more than 100 dogs and some have upwards of two hundred dogs. The dogs have little social interaction with humans and no normal interaction with other dogs.]

“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. [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

Sick dog gets no vet care after leaving checkpoint and dies

“Little from Kasilof, a reporter for the Daily News, left the dog (Carhartt) in the care of Iditarod handlers Tuesday because it looked tired and wasn’t eating well.”

“Iditarod executive director Stan Hooley said the dog had been flown to Anchorage on Wednesday by volunteers of the Iditarod Air Force. It was kept overnight and into the day at Eagle River’s Hiland Mountain Correctional Center, where inmates tend dropped dogs.”

“The dogs was signed our of Hiland Mountain late Thursday by Melissa DeVaughn, an experienced musher and co-worker of Little’s.”

“She found it dead in her yard Friday morning.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 10, 2001

“The dog died of an uncommon condition known as pyothorax, a bacterial infection of the chest cavity lining.”

- Iditarod website, March 9, 2001

Dan, a 3 year old dog dies; ulcers are found in his stomach

Read “Ulcers in Iditarod Dogs” below and learn how the dogs get them. Learn about the role ulcers play in causing the death of Iditarod dogs.

“Race officials said preliminary findings of a necropsy performed on the 3-year-old male named Dan showed fluid in the lungs.”

- Associated Press, March 12, 2001

“Preliminary aspects of the necropsy have been completed on Dan…”

“The dog’s death was determined to have been caused by pulmonary edema, or fluid in the lungs. The only other significant abnormalities observed included a decrease in esophageal and gastric (stomach) muscle tone combined with gastric ulcerations.”

- Iditarod website, March 10, 2001

Sometimes it takes the Iditarod Trail Committee months to release the final autopsy reports of dogs who have died in the race.

Speeding snowmachine drivers hit dog teams

“Musher Mike Nosko dropped out of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race after his dog team was hit by a speeding snowmachine driver.” “The dogs were bruised and banged up….”

- The Associated Press, March 6, 2001

“A second team in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race was injured Saturday by a snowmachine. A dog in the team of Palmer Sagoonick of Shaktoolik suffered a broken leg when it was hit, according to race marshal Mark Nordman.”

- Anchorage Daily News, March 18, 2001

Ulcers in Iditarod dogs

Many Iditarod dogs have gastric ulcers and some have died from this condition. Ulcers predispose the dogs to vomiting. Normally, the trachea closes the airway so that foreign material does not enter the lungs. But because these dogs run at such high speeds for such a long period of time, they cannot stop gasping for air despite the vomiting. Consequently, dogs inhale the vomit into their lungs which causes suffocation and death.

According to Michael Matz, a highly regarded expert in gastrointestinal disorders in small animals, the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is the most common cause of gastrointestinal ulceration in small animals (Kirk’s Current Veterinary Therapy XII- Small Animal Practice). Rimadyl, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen are just some of the NSAIDs that cause ulcers. These drugs reduce swelling, inflammation, relieve pain and fever, which allows the dogs to run farther and faster. Unfortunately, some dogs pay with their lives for the use of these drugs.

Dog dies in year 2000 Iditarod

“A dog named Tobuk traveling in the team of musher Al Hardman near Elim abruptly keeled over and died.”

- Lew Freedman, Anchorage Daily News, March 16, 2000

“Exactly one year ago on March 15 Rodman, Jeremy Gebauer’s dog, died of the same affliction running Iditarod ’99, said race veterinarian Stuart Nelson.”

-The Bush Blade Newspaper, March, 2000

Swingley, the 2000 race winner, hopes to profit from breeding his lead dog

“Swingley also noted that if the teams behind him are interested in help, Pepy the lead dog is available for breeding at $500 a turn.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 14, 2000

Mushers race sick dogs

“Two of the MANY (emphasis added) mushers who battled viruses in their dog teams and placed well below their expectations were Vern Halter…and John Baker…”

- Lew Freedman, Anchorage Daily News, March 17, 2000

“… (The dog’s) recovery in the checkpoints was slowed by some sort of virus.”

- Doug Swingley, the 2000 Iditarod race winner
- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 14, 2000

“Around Nikolai, about 350 miles into the race, some of his dogs caught a virus.” “‘They had some bad discomfort’” said Swingley. “‘It was hard for me to manage them.’”

- Doug Swingley, the 2000 Iditarod race winner
- Lew Freedman, Anchorage Daily News, March 15, 2000

“COAXING SICK DOGS: Linwood Fiedler, DeeDee Jonrowe’s Willow neighbor, finished just ahead of her in 19th and had to nurse sick dogs much of the time.”

- Staff report, Anchorage Daily News, March 17, 2000, article on website

Musher eliminated from Iditarod for racing too slow

“Neen Brown…was withdrawn from the 2000 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race by race marshal Mark Nordman in Takotna. Brown was not guilty of any infraction. Nordman said she was simply going too slow.”

- Lew Freedman, Anchorage Daily News, March 16, 2000

Swingley admits that mushers do not do the work

“‘Luckily, he said, “‘we don’t do the work.’” “The dogs do nearly all that….”

- Doug Swingley, the year 2000 Iditarod race winner
- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 14, 2000

More mushers will receive prize money than ever before

“This year, the Iditarod Trail Committee plans to hand out a record purse of more than $525,000 divided among the top 30 finishers – not just the top 20, as in years past.

- Staff and wire reports, Anchorage Daily News, March 13, 2000

Mushers force dogs to run where they themselves fear to go

“‘We (Mike Murphy and Bill McKee) were debating and debating leaving,’” Murphy said. “‘The bottom line was we were just scared.’” “‘Terry (Hinesly, a race official) told me it was better to go through at night,’” Murphy said. “So off into the darkness the two mushers headed. Safely in the cabin here Wednesday, Murphy confessed there were a couple of places that scared him in the dark, including the descent from the 3,160-foot crest of the pass.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 9, 2000

Sled dogs in the Iditarod have suffered severe injuries when they've hit trees. Some dog teams have run off into the unforgiving wilderness after hitting a tree.

Sled dogs in the Iditarod have suffered severe injuries when they’ve hit trees. Some dog teams have run off into the unforgiving wilderness after hitting a tree.

Rick Swenson's dog hits tree

“A dog from the team of five-time champ Rick Swenson was injured on the trail to Rohn after apparently colliding with a tree.” “Sketchy reports suggested that the dog collided with the tree hard enough to break the gangline.”

- Staff report, Anchorage Daily News, March 9, 2000, article on website

“The dog suffered a severe neck injury….”

- Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, March 10, 2000

Dent's dogs run off after sled hits tree

“His (Dent’s) gangline, the main line onto which all the dogs are attached, snapped in the Tuesday morning darkness after his sled met a tree.” “‘I just hit it in a way that there wasn’t any give,’” Dent said. “‘I looked up and (the dogs) weren’t there. It was like they vaporized. They were gone.’”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 8, 2000

Bondarenko's dogs run off after sled hits tree

“Bondarenko could see what was coming: a driftwood stump frozen into the river ice and overflow. The sled hit it sideways.” “As Bondarenko bounced on the ice, she let go of the sled and the team too off.”

-Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 10, 2000

Sled dogs are injured or killed when they jump or are thrown from the back of pick-up trucks. Photo attributed to fouldsy on flickr

Sled dogs are injured or killed when they jump or are thrown from the back of pick-up trucks. Photo attributed to fouldsy on flickr

Goosen's sled hits tree

“Then came a collision with a tree on the edge of Farwell Lakes on Wednesday night. Goosen hit the tree almost straight on. The collision shattered the brush bow on his sled and broke the metal cross bars that stabilize the rear stanchions.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 11, 2000

Dogs leave race to pursue bison

“Bosela said he he still doesn’t know what got into the dogs, which have never chased any large mammals before. But when they saw the bison…they jumped off the trail and led the entire team in a cross-country persuit. ‘It was a free for all,’ he said.”

- Staff reports, Anchorage Daily News, March 12, 2000, website article

Dog injured by stepping in moose hole

“…But 10 miles out of Ophir a dog stepped in a moose hole and was injured.”

- Discussing Musher Juan Alcina’s dog
- Staff report, Anchorage Daily News, March 17, 2000, website article

Musher crashes head-on into a tree

“Barron suffered a head-on collision with a tree that left his sled smashed…”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 21, 2000

Race rescinds lifetime ban of musher associated with dog deaths and injuries

“Once banned from the Iditarod Trail Dog Race for life because of a strange history of dog deaths and injuries, former [Iditarod] champion Gerald Riley will be back to run the millennium version of the 1,100 mile marathon from Anchorage to Nome.”

- Craig Medred, “Riley’s back in Iditarod, Race rescinds lifetime ban,”
Anchorage Daily News, November, 11, 1999