Abuse in Iditarod kennels

Dogs live in triangular structures

Sled dogs live in triangular structures

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Statement on Iditarod from founder of Alaska SPCA

“The race should not be a race! The original serum run was done in relays. It is what happens “BEHIND THE SCENES” during the rest of the year that needs to be told…. The breeding, culling [killing] and poor treatment needs to be exposed.”

- Email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, March 4, 2002
- Ethel D. Christensen, is the founder of the Alaska SPCA. She recently retired as its Executive Director.

Alaska SPCA director says Iditarod magnifies cruelties:

Margery Glickman: “The dogs who can’t meet the standard are killed.”

Rob Moore: “They’re just killed or possibly abandoned.”

Margery Glickman: “From what I understand, normally the dogs are simply killed with a shot to the head or they’re bludgeoned or even drowned. I’ve heard that the puppies, especially, are easy to drown. The mushers will tie a rope to their neck and a rock and throw them in the river. But they bred large numbers of dogs just to get a handful of good one. There was a TV documentary where a famous Iditarod musher said that she bred 300 dogs to get five good racers, and this is typical.”

Rob Moore: “300 to get five racers.”

Margery Glickman: “Yes.”

Rob Moore: “Ethel, you work with the SPCA and I want you to comment on this and this incredible surplus of dogs and what happens to these dogs and the kinds of calls that you get.”

Ethel Christensen: “Well, first of all Rob, let me say that I found the Alaska SPCA in 1966. At that time, I was an aviation pilot weather forecaster briefer, international airport, and I traveled around Alaska a lot.

And what Margery is saying is correct. And, unfortunately it’s been magnified. The Iditarod has done nothing but magnify that and we get all sort of calls.”

- Ethel Christensen is the founder of the Alaska SPCA. She recently retired as its Executive Director.
- Rob Moore hosts Animal Voices, a radio show in Toronto, Canada.
- Margery Glickman is the director of the Sled Dog Action Coalition
- This interview was done on February 28, 2006

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 bookFather 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

“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 by great lead dog.”

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

“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 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 My Themeoddly 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

Dogs on chains are vulnerable to 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

– 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 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 a small number of them. Chained sled dogs are tormented by mosquitoes who attack them. Photo attributed to mecocrus on flickr, taken July 8, 2008

—  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 being attacked by swarms of huge, vicious 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

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:

“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:

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

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 sled 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

Killing unwanted sled dogs

Iditarod kennels are puppy mills:

“The goal is to produce 70 or more quality pups a year.”

“Now, for the rest of the readers, the real answer to the question ‘Are you running a puppy mill?’ is essentially ‘yes.’ Let’s face it you made the decision to raise 70 pups and pick out the 15 or 20 best ones. That means there are 50 pups left to see, give away, or put down. You can’t keep the average dogs because it will ruin your focus on developing a championship team and besides that, unless you are independently wealthy, you cannot afford it.”

- Runyan, Joe. Winning Strategies for Distance Mushers. Sacramento: Griffin Printing, 1997

“That’s a sad reality of this sport, most mushers have no problem breeding litter after litter in an attempt to be the next big thing, but few mushers want to step up and actually give a dog a home that may not be able to help them get to the finish line in first place.”

- Colleen Robertia, Rogues Gallery Kennel Blog, December, 2011

Killing unwanted dogs doesn’t bother mushers:

Ethel Christensen: “Our philosophy and goal at the Alaska SPCA is prevention, not destruction. And, what they’re doing is breeding and breeding and then they cull and cull and cull. And culling to the musher doesn’t bother them one bit. And they use to take them into animal control here and then also up in the valley, but they got such criticism so now they’re doing their own killing. And it’s not humane. Believe me it’s not humane.”

- Ethel Christensen is the Executive Director of the Alaska SPCA
- She made these remarks on Animal Voices, a radio show in Toronto, Canada.
- She was interviewed by Rob Moore on February 28, 2006

“The top mushers raise 30 or 40 or even 100 pups a season and have the luxury of keeping only the very best.”

- Bowers, Don. Back of the Pack, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2000.

“Letter to the editor: Dog abuse even worse than column describes

Margery Glickman has stated the truth about this inhumane race, and all her facts are accurate. What she did not cover is the after-race dog deaths that no one seems to think are important. There are no statistics to support this occurrences as no records are maintained. But it is true there are many after race deaths either from sickness or from a bullet in the head by the owner to end the suffering of an injured or sick dog. Dogs have no value if they cannot run.

Also not mentioned is the pre-race culling. When you have 50 to 100 dogs to care for you have one massive problem, especially when you bring to life two to four more litters each year. What to do with all the dogs that don’t make the team? Some are given away, but there are few takers.

The pounds in Alaska are full of unwanted dogs, so most of them will be shot and at the ripe old age of a year or two. Sad, isn’t it? This is animal exploitation at it worst. Take the money out of the race, and it would end. This is something I urge all supporters to do. Don’t help to finance this inhumane race.”

- Thomas J. Classen, Fairbanks, Alaska – The Vero Beach Press Journal, March 5, 2007
- Tom Classen is a retired Air Force colonel who has lived in Alaska over 20 years.
- He wrote this letter in response to an article the paper published about the Iditarod.

Dogs shot for fun:

Iditarod mushers routinely shoot sled dogs they don't want.. Dogs have also been shot for fun. Photo attributed to Augustas Didzgalvis on Wikipedia

Iditarod mushers routinely shoot their unwanted sled dogs. Dogs have also been shot for fun. Photo attributed to Augustas Didzgalvis on Wikipedia

“One kennel I worked at the manager would walk through the dog yard with his pistol shooting dogs for fun. He thought it was great sport.”

- Mike Cranford, dog handler, Two Rivers, Alaska, letter sent to the Sled Dog Action Coalition on February 28, 2000.

Young dogs who goof off are shot:

“Some of the younger dogs that are just goofing off and don’t look like they will make it, I just go ahead and shoot those dogs right now.”

- Attla, George, and Bella Levorsen, editor. Everything I Know About Training and Racing Sled Dogs, Rome: Arner Publications, 1974

Dogs who look back are killed:

“When a dog in your team looks back, and looks back, and keeps looking back, the whole team knows that dog is looking back, and pretty soon the rest of the dogs are looking back. So it’s best to discard that one.”

- Attla, George, and Bella Levorsen, editor. Everything I Know About Training and Racing Sled Dogs, Rome: Arner Publications, 1974

Dogs who can’t keep up are killed:

“When I start training dogs in the fall, anything that can’t keep up with the rest goes to the happy hunting grounds.”*

*”Happy hunting grounds” means “North American Indian heaven.”

- Attla, George, and Bella Levorsen, editor. Everything I Know About Training and Racing Sled Dogs, Rome: Arner Publications, 1974

Older dogs who won’t run downhill are killed:

Question to George Attla: “What do you do about older dogs that won’t run down hill?”

George Attla’s answer: “I don’t waste time on them. I get rid of them.”

- Attla, George, and Bella Levorsen, editor. Everything I Know About Training and Racing Sled Dogs, Rome: Arner Publications, 1974

Dogs who are scared when the team runs wide open are killed:

“Any one of these three dogs – a dog that looks back, or one that is scared when the team runs wide open, or a dog that is scared to run downhill – I wouldn’t have anything to do with. I’d get rid of them right now.”

- Attla, George, and Bella Levorsen, editor. Everything I Know About Training and Racing Sled Dogs, Rome: Arner Publications, 1974

Dogs who don’t keep their back line tight are killed:

“I don’t care how many ways a dog’s legs are flying. If they are flying in all directions, it don’t make no difference to me, just so long as when that dog is moving his back line is staying tight. If it isn’t, I wouldn’t monkey with a pup like that. I’d discard him right now.”

- Attla, George, and Bella Levorsen, editor. Everything I Know About Training and Racing Sled Dogs, Rome: Arner Publications, 1974

Dogs killed for being slow, not wanting to run, throwing their legs out funny, not keeping lines tight:

“If a pup is slow, I am not going to mess with them. It is not worth messing with a pup if it hasn’t got any speed and doesn’t want to go- yes, I am talking about draggers.

That is the first culling – they just plain don’t want to go. Then I look at their gaits or if they throw their legs out funny or obviously are too slow, if their lines are slack all the time. There is no sense wasting good dog food and your time on a dog that isn’t fast enough to keep up.”

“If you want to have trotters, you can save yourself a lot of dog food, keeping the faster ones and eliminating the others.”

- Swenson, Rick. The Secrets of Long Distance Training and Racing, 1987

– How many dogs has Rick Swenson killed?

“But on the average, a fellow like myself, who raises a minimum of 50 pups every year, using almost all proven breeding stock, still doesn’t get more than two pups out of a litter that wind up making the race team when they are three years old.”

- Swenson, Rick. The Secrets of Long Distance Training and Racing, 1987

Dog shot for being “funny looking:”

“As a new handler with about two weeks of experience, walking through the dog lot with the main handler, I pointed to a dog and said, ‘That’s a funny looking dog.’ I found the dog shot, still at his house on his chain.”

- Mike Cranford, Iditarod dog handler, letter to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, 2012

Iditarod mushers get rid of unwanted sled dog puppies by tying them in a bag and tossing the bag in a creek, lake or river. Mushers even have a saying about not breeding dogs unless they can drown them: “Those who cannot drown should not breed.”

Iditarod mushers get rid of unwanted sled dog puppies by tying them in a bag and tossing the bag in a creek, lake or river. Mushers even have a saying about not breeding dogs unless they can drown them: “Those who cannot drown should not breed.”

Mushers drown unwanted puppies:

“…The [Iditarod] board was silent when Iditarod musher John Cooper wrote a story for this newspaper’s magazine talking about getting rid of unwanted puppies by tying them in a bag and tossing the bag in a creek.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, April 20, 1992

“I drowned one litter at birth because they were born to my main lead dog at the start of the fall training season.”

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

Old saying: “Those who cannot drown should not breed:”

“There is an old saying in the dog world: ‘Those who cannot drown should not breed.’ It is true. Many pups will be born and some pups will be culled.”

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

Iditarod musher bludgeons 14 sled dog puppies to death with an ax handle. Photo attributed to Wikimedia Commons

Iditarod musher bludgeons 14 sled dog puppies to death with an ax handle. Photo attributed to Wikimedia Commons

Musher kills puppies with an ax, shoots ones left alive:

“Iditarod musher Frank Winkler was charged Friday with animal cruelty for bludgeoning 14 sled-dog puppies with an ax handle, although he said in an interview earlier this month that he reluctantly shot them. After a neighbor reported hearing puppies whimpering in the night, an animal-control officer visited Winkler’s trailer Sept. 7 and found the battered puppies piled in a crate in the back of his pickup. Two were barely alive and the rest were dead.

One of the live pups ‘was crying and was cold, clammy, wet, bloody and showed clinical signs of shock,’ Assistant District Attorney Mindy McQueen wrote in a charging document. The other was half-buried in the pile of dead pups. Both live dogs had crushed skulls and were later killed by animal-control officers.”

- Marilee Enge, Anchorage Daily News, September 21, 1991

“The small pups were only a week old, [Frank] Winkler said. The older pups ranged from 5 to 10 weeks old, he said.”

- Don Hunter, Anchorage Daily News, December 7, 1991

“Winkler tries to kill some of his puppies by hitting them with the blunt end of an ax. He doesn’t hit all of them hard enough to immediately kill them.

He tries to shoot some others with a borrowed .22-caliber rifle, but trying to hold down a puppy while cradling a rifle is no easy task. Winkler has to be careful to avoid shooting himself. He is lucky in that he succeeds. He is unlucky in that the shots only wounded some of the puppies.

Two live. Winkler, unaware of this, throws them into a box in back of his truck with the corpses of their brothers and sisters. He goes home. The dying puppies whimper while Winkler sleeps. A neighbor hears the whimpering.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, April 20, 1992

Dan MacEachen shoots unwanted dogs:

“MacEachen has run Alaska’s Iditarod – at 1,150 miles, the world’s premier dog-sled race – seven times.”

- Gwen Florio, Rocky Mountain News, April 6, 2005

“Unwanted dogs at one of the largest tourist sled-dog operations in the country are shot in the back of the head and buried in a pit filled with excrement…”

“Dan MacEachen, owner of the Krabloonik sled-dog center in Snowmass Village for 31 years, said several dogs have been shot with a .22-caliber rifle and buried in a pit where feces from about 250 dogs are deposited. The exact number of animals that have been shot is in dispute, but a former employee said it has been as many as 30 in one year.”

- Thomas Watkins, Denver Post, April 6, 2005

“Dan MacEachen, who acknowledged that he shot and killed old or injured Alaskan huskies – and some younger dogs that didn’t take to pulling sleds – with a .22-caliber rifle, faced heavy criticism after his method of destroying the animals came to light this week.”

- Steve Lipsher, Denver Post, April 7, 2005

Mushers unable to find homes for unwanted dogs:

“Who out there is dumb enough to believe that some musher living in the middle of nowhere is ‘able to find good homes for the dogs?”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 5, 1993

Killing dogs is part of sled dog industry:

“Killing unwanted sled-dog puppies is part of doing business, many Alaska mushers say.”

- Anchorage Daily News, October 6, 1991

“[Brad] Muir admits euthanizing dogs is an unavoidable part of the dog sled industry.”

- Brad Muir is a musher who has been raising sled dogs for 11 years.
- CTV.com, February 4, 2011

Culling or killing puppies:

“[Musher] Plettner said she checks her dogs at 5 weeks old for size, appetite and aggressiveness. Then she tries to work with ones that need improvement, testing the pups weekly until they are about 12 weeks old. After she rates the dogs on feet, coat, digestive system, angulation of legs, drive and smarts, she culls.”

- Anchorage Daily News, October 6, 1991

“Pups culled at birth are picked according to size and vitality. Experts can judge angulation in the very young by feeling leg and shoulder bones. You can also compare bone structure and leg and neck length and cull on the basis of whether you want heavier or lighter dogs.”

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

Mushers getting rid of dogs who run a mile an hour too slow:

“They [the big racing outfits] can’t keep a dog who’s a mile an hour too slow.”

- Musher Lorraine Temple, Currents Magazine, Fall 1999

Dogs culled for “the sake of the team:”

“You might need to cull a dog for the sake of your team. Even an outstanding dog might not fit in.”

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

Iditarod mushers have clubbed unwanted sled dogs to death with baseball bats.

Iditarod mushers have clubbed unwanted sled dogs to death with baseball bats.

Unwanted dogs clubbed or dragged to death:

“On-going cruelty is the law of many dog lots. Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don’t pull dragged to death in harness. (Imagine being dragged by your neck-line at 15 miles per hour while suffering a major heart-attack!)….”

- Mike Cranford, Two Rivers, Alaska
- The Bush Blade Newspaper, serving Cook Inlet and Bush Alaska, March, 2000, website article

Famous musher bred 300 dogs to get 5 good ones:

“On a recent TV documentary and typical of many [mushers], a famous Iditarod musher stated that she bred 300 dogs to get 5 good ones!”

“…Help stop the culling and killing.”

- Ethel D. Christensen Alaska SPCA Executive Director
- The Alaska S.P.C.A. website April, 2001

Unwanted dogs are killed:

“‘I’m definitely going to have to cull some dogs. There’s no way we can keep them,’ he [Charlie Campbell] said.”

“The culling won’t start until the mushing season begins and he and his wife can assess each dog. ‘We’re going to have to be ruthless about who we keep.’”

- Joel Gay, Anchorage Daily News, September 30, 2002

Competitive dog mushing is built on dead dogs:

“Competitive dog mushing is built on dead dogs, from the time slow-looking puppies are culled to the moment some overbred, undersized racing hound expires of overexertion.”

- Mike Doogan, Anchorage Daily News, April, 1994

“‘Competitive kennels, or even kennels that may not be competitive but aspire to be, often breed more dogs than they’re actually going to be able to keep, afford to keep and pay for the vet bills, the food and all the other associated costs,’ [Frank] Turner told CBC News in a recent pre-race interview.

‘If you added up the numbers, there’s no way all those other puppies or young dogs are going to be sold or given away to homes. We’re just breeding too many dogs.’

The Yukon Quest should admit that culling is part of the competitive racing world and take measures to discourage it, he said.”

- Frank Turner is a musher
- Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Feb. 9, 2007

“When I was active in the mushing community, other mushers were open with me about the fact that larger Iditarod kennels frequently disposed of dogs by shooting them, drowning them or setting them loose to fend for themselves in the wilderness. This was especially true in Alaska, they said, where veterinarians were often hours away. They often used the phrase ‘Bullets are cheaper.’ And they noted that it’s more practical for mushers in remote parts of Alaska to do it themselves.”

- 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 nature of the large scale racing sled dog operation I worked at was something like a concentrated farming operation. The dogs in the yard were exclusively of commercial value, for racing and the associated tourism industry.

I was told dogs are sent to a ‘special place’ which was code for they are shot. There are dozens of dogs bred each season, I observed about three dozen puppies, in a large kennel of over 100 dogs when I was working as a dog handler. Not all of these puppies would be chosen to race or operate as sled dogs during the tourist season, or be sold as racing puppies.”

- 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.

Dead dogs thrown into pits:

“At one musher’s dog lot, I stumbled across a pit of dead dogs. I asked another handler who had been working there for a while: Do you reckon he’s killed a hundred dogs? He laughed and said it was closer to a thousand and that the cabin I was living in was built on a big pit of dead dogs.”

- Mike Cranford, Iditarod dog handler, letter to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, 2012

“I worked in an Iditarod kennel where the dog waste was put in the same pit where they dumped their dead dogs.”

- Ashley Keith, former musher and Iditarod kennel employee who now rescues and rehabilitates abused sled dogs.
- Email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, June 20, 2011

Brutal dog killings like these could happen in an Iditarod kennels:

“[Robert] Fawcett says he asked one veterinarian to put down the dogs for him, but the vet refused to kill 100 healthy dogs. So on April 21 and 23 of 2010, he took a gun and a knife and brutally slaughtered them, in plain view of 200 other tethered dogs.

By the time he’d killed 15 dogs, the rest were starting to panic. This made it harder to get a clean shot on every dog, and as a consequence, the report states, “he wounded but did not kill one dog, ‘Suzie.’ Suzie was the mother of (Fawcett’s) family’s pet dog, ‘Bumble.’ He had to chase Suzie through the yard because the horrific noise she made when wounded caused him to drop the leash. Although she had the left side of her cheek blown off and her eye hanging out, he was unable to catch her.

Fawcett went and got a gun with a scope and shot her when she lay down with a group of other dogs, who attacked him when he went to retrieve her body. He also realized that, when shooting Suzie, he’d also wounded another dog, Poker, not slated for death, who was ‘one of his favorites.’ Poker suffered for 15 minutes before dying.

That day Fawcett says he slaughtered 55 dogs. He had to wrap his arms in foam to protect himself from the frenzied attacks of the dogs when he tried to handle them. He had to wrestle the dogs to the ground and stand on them before he killed them — in his words — ‘execution style.’

In the report, he described ‘a guttural sound he had never heard before from the dogs and fear in their eyes.’ Two days later, he did it again. This time, he said, it was worse. One dog, Nora, had been shot 20 minutes before but was still crawling around in the mass grave he had dug for the dogs.”

- Robert Fawcett is a manager of a sled dog tour company in Whistler Canada.
- Christie Keith, San Francisco Chronicle, February 10, 2011

“His [Robert Fawcett] memory of the final 15 dogs is fuzzy. Some he shot cleanly, others he had to chase. In some cases, it was simply easier to get behind the dogs and slit their throats and let them bleed out. By the end he was covered in blood.”

- Robert Fawcett is a manager of a sled dog tour company in Whistler Canada.
- Report by Allan Wotherspoon, Review Officer, Review Division, Review Decision, Review Reference #R0119660, Canada, January 25, 2011.

AVMA does not recommend routine euthanasia by gunshot:

“Gunshot should not be used for routine euthanasia of animals…”

- 2000 Report of the American Veterinary Medical Association Panel on Euthanasia

AVMA says only people skilled and trained in using firearms should kill by gunshot:

“A properly placed gunshot can cause immediate insensibility and humane death. In some circumstances, a gunshot may be the only practical method of euthanasia. Shooting should only be performed by highly skilled personnel trained in the use of firearms and only in jurisdictions that allow for legal firearm use.”

- AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia, June, 2007, AVMA website

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: How many mushers are "highly skilled" and "trained" in the use of firearms?]

Agents and Methods of Euthanasia:

Species Acceptable Conditionally acceptable
Dog Barbiturates, inhalant anesthetics, CO, potassium chloride in conjunction with general anesthesia N2, Ar, penetrating captive bolt, electrocution

- From 2000 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia
- Dr. James B. Nichols, University of Vermont, Office of Animal Care Management website

Some Iditarod dogs skinned for their fur

Dogs skinned for parka ruffs and mittens

“….As a dog handler myself, I rescued two old Iditarod stars before their owner ended their fame with a shot to the brain. Culling unwanted dogs is an on-going mushers’ practice and one racer had numerous pits full of dead dogs from puppies to oldsters— some skinned for parka ruffs and mittens!”

- Mike Cranford, Two Rivers, Alaska
- The Bush Blade Newspaper, serving Cook Inlet and Bush Alaska, March, 2000, website article

Dogs skinned to make hats and mittens:

“At one Iditarod and Yukon Quest veteran kennel, there was a dog who wasn’t very fast. Like many sled dogs, he lived on a short chain with nothing but a cruddy dog house and a rusty food bowl for company.

Sometimes, he was whipped in harness with pine branches or “bumped” with the all terrain vehicle he and his teammates were pulling (meaning the mushers hooked him up closest to the machine and then sped up to hit his backside). His owners didn’t care much for him, as he was not the best worker and was also neutered – thus he had no value as a breeding animal. His owners often talked about shooting him if he didn’t shape up.

One day, I was told that I had to accompany this dog to the veterinarian to “see what happened to dogs that didn’t make the cut.” Without a physical examination or owner counseling, this dog was simply euthanized because he was too slow. He was perfectly healthy, and indeed could have made a great team dog on a recreational team.

The dogs body was taken back to the mushers’ home and placed in a larger freezer (where meat for dog food was stored). I was then shown a pair of mittens that were made from a previous sled dog who wasn’t fast enough. I was told that it’s important to kill them (sled dogs) when they are young, because their pelts (fur coats) are in better condition and will make better garments.”

- Ashley Keith, former musher and Iditarod kennel employee who now rescues and rehabilitates abused sled dogs
- Email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, April 30, 2008

“He (Colonel Tom Classen) confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their optimum racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens.”

- Tom Classen is a retired Air Force colonel and Alaskan resident for over 40 years
- Jon Saraceno, USA Today, March 3, 2000

Actress Sylvia Miles wore pelt from dead Iditarod dog:

“Spruced up like an Ewok princess, thespian beauty Sylvia Miles bundled up in luxurious skins for a NYC premiere on Monday. Clad in Davy Crockett headgear, a cotton candy mane, the pelt from an Alaskan Iditarod sled dog…. “

- TMZ.com, December 12, 2007
- TMZ.com is a joint venture between Telepictures Productions and AOL

This dog is suffering from a condition or disease that causes hair loss. The photo is courtesy of SledDogma.org

This sled dog is suffering from a condition or disease that causes hair loss.
The photo is courtesy of SledDogma.org

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

Tethering makes dogs eager to run

“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.

Animal abuse charges against Iditarod mushers

Dan MacEachen is indicted for animal abuse:
(Krabloonik is owned by Iditarod musher Dan MacEachen)

“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

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

Sick Krabloonik sled dog has diarrhea. Krabloonik is owned by Iditarod musher Dan MacEachen. Photo taken at Krabloonik in Snowmass Village, CO. Photo courtesy of Voices for the Krabloonik Dogs

– Mushers will go to police over dog abuse at Krabloonik:

“After months of urging from public officials and animal welfare advocates, former mushers at the Krabloonik dog sledding operation and restaurant in Snowmass Village are planning to go to the police with reports of animal abuse.

Guy Courtney, Krabloonik’s former general manager, said he plans to file a formal report of abuse today with Snowmass Village police.”

“He told the Snowmass Village Town Council Monday night that he saw a Krabloonik dog die of exposure in January because of inadequate shelter, and he claimed that he narrowly saved another dog from a similar fate by nursing him back to health over several days.

“Fernando was a dog that had died, and was brought to my attention, and the dog next door to him, Cleveland, was clearly in distress, and I brought him inside and he survived,” Courtney said after Monday’s meeting.”

“He told the Snowmass Village Town Council Monday night that he saw a Krabloonik dog die of exposure in January because of inadequate shelter, and he claimed that he narrowly saved another dog from a similar fate by nursing him back to health over several days.

“Fernando was a dog that had died, and was brought to my attention, and the dog next door to him, Cleveland, was clearly in distress, and I brought him inside and he survived,” Courtney said after Monday’s meeting.

“A group of eight mushers who worked at the kennel last winter have pledged that they will not return this season if MacEachen retains ownership of Krabloonik, because they allege that he is a habitual animal abuser. MacEachen has owned Krabloonik for nearly four decades.”

“MacEachen has been accused of beating dogs, as well as depriving them of needed nourishment, shelter and medical care.”

Nelson Harvey, Aspen Daily News, November 19, 2013

Doug Bartko starves dogs to death:

“PALMER, Alaska — Mat-Su Animal Control officials say they have uncovered one of the worst cases of animal cruelty they have ever seen.

Officials found 25 dogs, many of them nearly starved to death and some chained to a short wire, left in a remote location with no food or water. Investigators seized the animals over the last two days.”

“Animal Care Chief Dave Allison says all were emaciated, dehydrated and clearly neglected.

‘If you put your hands on them you can feel pretty much every bone in their body,’ he said.

Allison says the dogs’ teeth are broken from trying to eat rocks too.

Doug Bartko owns the dogs. He says it’s been a rough spring.

‘My system broke down and I was just in the process of getting it back up again,’ he said.

That system is clearly flawed, even for Bartko. His food supply has been rotted salmon heads.

It appears Bartko let things go too far and it’s not the first time. Court records show he was cited for animal cruelty back in 2006.”

” Bartko was cited for five counts of interference with an investigation, ten counts of failure to provide humane animal care and his kennel license has been revoked.”

- Megan Maldino, KTUU-TV, May 7, 2008, website article

– Doug Bartko found guilty of 39 counts of animal cruelty

“Musher Doug Bartko was found guilty of 39 counts of animal cruelty, failure to provide care for his dogs and interfering with an investigation in a Palmer court Tuesday.”

- Lori Tipton, KTUU-TV, July 30, 2008, website article

John T. Hessert plead guilty to animal cruelty:

“BOZEMAN, Mont.—A West Yellowstone man accused of abandoning 33 sled dogs without food, water or shelter pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty as part of a plea agreement.

John T. Hessert, 24, wore a vest embroidered with an Iditarod logo as he made his plea before District Judge Holly Brown.”

“Hessert initially pleaded not guilty to one felony count of aggravated animal cruelty and 33 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty. The felony charge was dropped as part of the plea agreement.

According to court records, a man called animal control Jan. 30 to report that the dogs were being kept in an unsafe environment outside West Yellowstone near Targhee Pass.

A veterinarian examined the dogs and determined that they were all “well below normal health and had not been being fed enough food,” according to court records. One of the dogs had a collar embedded in its neck and other dogs had frostbite.”

- Associated Press, The Boston Globe, July 22, 2008

John Hessert worked for Martin Buser and was instructed by him:

“Hessert, who ran the race with a group of young dogs out of Martin Buser’s kennel, wound up in 50th place. Sixty-three mushers finished the race, while another 16 scratched along the fabled Iditarod Trail.”

- John Holyoke, Bangor Daily News, March 24, 2005

“He [John Hessert] is living in Big Lake, Alaska where he is learning more about training dogs under the tutelage of four-time Iditarod winner Martin Buser.”

- North Yarmouth Academy, Alumni News Archive for 2005

David Straub was not feeding his dogs:

“Animal control officers removed 28 dogs from the property of a Willow musher Saturday and cited him with 17 counts of animal cruelty after authorities said they found the huskies with rib, hip and tail bones protruding through their thick fur.

David Straub, a three-time Iditarod racer, was not feeding his dogs, said a Mat-Su Borough animal control officer.

Ten of the dogs were found to be emaciated, animal control officials said.”

- Megan Holland, Anchorage Daily News, Oct. 20, 2004

– Straub’s dogs running in circles, foaming at the mouth, and one died:

“The complainant, Daniel Blythe, stated in writing that when he saw the dogs Oct. 10 they were starving, dazed, running in tight circles and foaming at the mouth.

Straub, who moved to Alaska from Missouri in 1996 to pursue dog-sledding, admitted one of his dogs died that day. He said it wasn’t from starvation, but from the flu.”

- John Davidson, Frontiersman, Oct. 22, 2004

– David Straub found guilty of animal cruelty:

“A Palmer magistrate on Wednesday found Willow musher David Straub guilty of animal cruelty for failing to provide his dog team with enough food, water or veterinary care last fall.”

- Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, April 7, 2005

– David Straub receives 25 citations for violations in 2009

“The Mat-Su Borough on Tuesday cited former Iditarod musher David Straub of Willow for 25 violations stemming from running a dog kennel without a license.

Chief Mat-Su Animal Care Officer Bob Haskell said 21 citations are for dogs not registered with the borough, three are for dogs without immunization records and one is for operating a kennel without a license.”

- Anchorage Daily News, June, 2009

Charlotte Fitzhugh charged with reckless neglect:

“Bush musher Clay Farnham had heard all the horror stories about his neighbor’s dog yard before he went over to investigate two years ago. Word was that more than 100 animals were going days without food and water at Charlotte Fitzhugh’s place in Chistochina. A misguided sled dog breeder with a history of dog neglect, her animals were reportedly left to fend for themselves at temperatures beyond 50 below while she worked as a taxi driver in Fairbanks, more than 250 miles away.

Even with the warning, Farnham was unprepared for what he saw. “All the dogs were skinny and wild-eyed, he said. Some were chained to clapboard boxes offering little shelter; others were chained to trees.

A half dozen dogs lay dead across the snow, Farnham said. Hunks of flesh were missing from their emaciated bodies. ‘It wasn’t very hard to figure out what had happened,’ he said. ‘The live dogs were starving, and they were eating the dead ones.’”

“Eventually, the state filed 17 charges of reckless neglect against her [Charlotte Fitzhugh].”

“‘We have 60 plus below here and they don’t all have houses,” said Terry Endres, who owns the Chistochina Lodge. ‘Some nights, when it was still, you could hear those dogs crying all night long.’”

“‘You’ve seen pictures of people starving to death in Somalia? That’s what they looked like,’ [Will] Forsberg said. ‘I saw some dogs there so skinny I wondered if they could even get up.’”

“On Christmas Eve 1993, Alaska State Trooper Don Pierce searched Fitzhugh’s yard after several of her neighbors reported she hadn’t been seen for days. They were worried a cold snap would take a toll on the dogs.

‘As I walked onto the property, I started seeing dead dogs,’ Pierce said. ‘They were dead on the ends of chains. … It was real grim.’

Pierce said he found five bodies that day. Necropsies later showed the dogs had less than 1 percent body fat. ‘The dogs were essentially feeding on their own tissue and organs,’ he said.’”

- Peter S. Goodman, Anchorage Daily News, April 7, 1995

Norman Mac-Alpine charged with animal cruelty:

“An Anvik man who competed in the 1983 Iditarod and often runs the Yukon 200 has been charged with animal cruelty after four of his dogs died while he was out of town. Alaska State Troopers said Norman Mac-Alpine, 29, left his dogs without food or water for almost five days while he was in Grayling, a nearby village.”

- S.J. Komarnitsky, Anchorage Daily News, October 2, 1993

Frank Winkler charged with animal cruelty:

“Iditarod musher Frank Winkler was charged Friday with animal cruelty for bludgeoning 14 sled-dog puppies with an ax handle, although he said in an interview earlier this month that he reluctantly shot them. After a neighbor reported hearing puppies whimpering in the night, an animal-control officer visited Winkler’s trailer Sept. 7 and found the battered puppies piled in a crate in the back of his pickup. Two were barely alive and the rest were dead.

One of the live pups ‘was crying and was cold, clammy, wet, bloody and showed clinical signs of shock,’ Assistant District Attorney Mindy McQueen wrote in a charging document. The other was half-buried in the pile of dead pups. Both live dogs had crushed skulls and were later killed by animal-control officers.”

- Marilee Enge, Anchorage Daily News, September 21, 1991

Matthew Calore received 17 citations for “MSB24.05.080: 1st Offense Failure to Provide Humane Animal Care”

- 3PA-08-11766MO Matanuska-Susitna Borough vs. Calore, Matthew C
- Alaska Trial Court Cases website, State of Alaska, Case 3PA-08-11766MO, filed 9/24/2008

- Matanuska-Susitna Borough Code:

24.05.080 HUMANE ANIMAL CARE. (A)Humane animal care includes, but is not limited to, providing: (1)sufficient wholesome and nutritious food daily which will keep the animal in healthy physical condition; (2)sufficient daily quantities of fresh water which meet the hydration requirements for the animal; (3)adequate shelter and freedom of movement which provides adequate air, ventilation, and space which prevents the animal from being exposed to inclement or adverse weather conditions, overheating from sunlight, unsanitary conditions, and dirty, wet, and uncomfortable conditions which may endanger the health or welfare of the animal; and (4)veterinary care when needed to treat the animal for sickness, disease, injury, or to prevent suffering of the animal. (B)No owner shall fail to provide humane animal care or place an animal in a situation where the animal’s life, safety or health is endangered. (1)A rebuttable presumption of a violation shall exist where the animal is separated from basic needs such as food, water, shelter, or necessary medical attention or is placed in a situation where the animal’s life, safety and health is endangered and the regulation office receives no response in 24 hours after providing notice to the owner of the situation or posting notice at the property where the animal is located. (C)Failure to provide humane care to animals is an infraction. (Ord. 08-013(AM), § 2, 2008: Ord. 05-165, § 2, 2005: Ord. 03-065(AM), § 1, 2003; Ord. 92-013(sub1), § 3 (part), 1992)

Dog's feet 'candled' with propane torch

Musher's sons use a propane torch to "candle" dog's feet or singe the ends of the hair that grow between the pads. It's likely many dogs were burned with propane torches.

Iditarod musher’s sons use a propane torch to singe the hairs that grow between a dog”s pads. It’s likely many sled dogs were burned with propane torches.

“You also need to trim the hair on the bottom of the dogs’ feet to prevent ice balls from forming and clinging to the hair. You can use a scissors or an electric clipper to trim it even with the pads. Don’t take it out from between the toes though, because dogs without any hair between their pads can form big ice balls in there when running barefoot in the snow.

After you’ve trimmed the hair you need to ‘candle’ their feet, or singe the ends of the hair that you trimmed. This make snow even less likely to collect in the foot hair.

Notice the term is ‘candle’ the feet. My boys are always looking for faster ways to do their chores. I suppose that is why they started using a propane torch to ‘candle’ dogs’ feet. That in turn explains why, upon entering the shop one winter’s day, I observed the back half of my best leader apparently going up in flames. This gives a whole new meaning to the term, ‘Put the dog out, son!”

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

This dog was extremely emaciated before it died. Mat-Su Animal Control found the dog on Doug Bartko's property. Photo is courtesy of SledDogma.org

This sled dog was extremely emaciated before it died. Mat-Su Animal Control found the dog on Doug Bartko’s property. Photo is courtesy of SledDogma.org

Adequate dog care is too costly for mushers

Many mushers have large kennels. Think about how much it costs to take care of just one dog. A healthy dog needs veterinary checkups every year and other items like food, enteric worm medication, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, vaccinations and professional teeth cleaning. Think about how much more it costs to care for a sick dog.

Dogs don’t get routine veterinary care:

“Consider how expensive it is to get annual check-ups, routine vaccinations and year-round heartworm, flea and tick preventative for just one dog. Could you imagine doing all this for a kennel of 50, 75, 100, 150, 200? It’s not practical, and it doesn’t happen. The dogs get the bare minimum of vaccines to be able to legally cross borders and compete in sled dog races.”

- 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

Dogs don’t always get vet care when they are sick:

“The dogs don’t always get vet care when they are sick or injured. And it is cheaper to just let the dog die. God forbid parvo or something like that ever hit one of these places – it would be a mess. With some dogs, mushers have a ‘wait and see’ policy. It’s horrid to see the dogs sitting there in obvious discomfort, let me tell you. The more valuable dogs get better vet care.”

- 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

“Veterinary treatments are expensive, and I was told the dogs receive little or any veterinary treatment as they ‘are so hardy’ they never get sick. I found this hard to believe, and did witness some dogs with eye infections that were not treated.”

- 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.

“I’ve seen firsthand dogs left on chains for months on end with basically no attention other than being given food and water, some with inadequate shelter from the elements, others with unattended illnesses or injuries.”

The cost of a dental cleaning alone is between $300 and $500. Pets.webmd.com says, "Generally most dogs will need oral exams, cleanings, and dental X-rays about once a year, starting at about 6 months of age." Many musher have more than 40 dogs. Do you think they pay for even routine dental care for their sled dogs? Photo attributed to the US Department of Defense, US Army  Africa

The cost of a dental cleaning alone is between $300 and $500. Pets.webmd.com says, “Generally most dogs will need oral exams, cleanings, and dental X-rays about once a year, starting at about 6 months of age.” Many Iditarod mushers have more than 40 dogs. Do you think they pay for even routine dental care for their sled dogs? Photo attributed to the US Department of Defense, US Army Africa of flickr

- Rebecca Knight, Anchorage Daily News, May 30, 2007
- Rebecca Knight lives in the Mat-Su Borough with her husband and nine huskies. She also volunteers for an animal rescue organization.

“Professional treatment is expensive and not always successful, and many mushers won’t try to throw good money after a sick pup (or they simply can’t afford to).”

- Bowers, Don. Back of the Pack, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2000.

Some mushers have more than 100 dogs:

“The sprawling Matanuska-Susitna Borough is Alaska sled dog country, a hub for professional and recreational mushers lured by a vast network of trails and the freedom to keep kennels that can number as many as 100 dogs or more.”

- Rachel D’Oro, Associated Press, May 2, 2005

Lance Mackey has 120 dogs:

“There’s plenty of work to be done, but Tonya and Lance own everything: the house and the hilltop land that gives them a view of the lights of Fairbanks to the south, the Dodge Charger and three Dodge trucks that came with the four Iditarod wins, and the 120 huskies in the yard, each of which is worth thousands of dollars and is well fed thanks to a sponsorship from Redpaw dog food.”

- David Epstein, Sports Illustrated, March 7, 2011

Lynda Plettner has over 300 dogs:

“We have over 300 dogs at our kennel…”

- Plettner Kennels website, 2005

Joe Redington, Sr. had 527 dogs:

“By 1990 we had five hundred and twenty-seven dogs.”

- Joe Redington, Sr., May, 1999, preface to Lew Freedman’s book Father of the Iditarod

Rachael Scdoris has from 90 to 100 dogs or more:

Helen Fields: “How many dogs do you have?”

Rachael Scdoris: “About 90.”

- Helen Fields, U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 24, 2006

“I have an enormous kennel and about 100 dogs….”

- Rachael Scdoris talking about her dog lot
- Gillian Gifford, The Star, July 24, 2006

Doug Swingley owns from 150 to 200 dogs:

“Swingley, a four-time Iditarod champion, owns a stable of about 150 dogs…”

- Paul Strelow, Spartanburg Herald-Journal, March 3, 2006

“‘(Swingley) has usually got between 160 and 200 dogs in his kennels,’ [Matt] Anderson, who bought his first dogs from Swingley, said.”

- Bren T. Boyce, The Nonpareil, August 20, 2006

Mitch Seavey owns 200 dogs:

“[Fawn Wilson] She also spent last summer in Seavey’s camp, with its 200 dogs.”

-Phillip B. Wilson, Indianapolis Star, March 14, 2008

Susan Butcher and husband had 200 dogs:

“Back in the 1980′s when I worked for ABC Sports and ABC covered the Iditarod every winter, I was their race announcer. Those were the days when Susan Butcher was Queen of the huskies. Our film crew traveled up to the Arctic Circle line one year to do a background story on Susan and her husband Dave training before the big race. Susan had some 200 dogs at that point, all living outside, shackled with 5- to 10-foot chains to small wooden houses.”

- Diana Nyad, KCRW, The Score, March 26, 2009

Dick Mackey had 150 dogs:

“For the first time in almost thirty-five years I didn’t have any racing dogs. At one time we had 150.”

- Mackey, Dick. One Second to Glory, Alaska: Epicenter Press, 2001.

Duane “Dewey” Halverson has 140 dogs:

“[Duane 'Dewey'] Halverson has been training sled dogs for a number of years. At one point he had 140 dogs.”

- Ann Gill, The Free Press Newspapers, March 2, 2010

Hank DeBruin owns over 140 Siberian Huskies:

“We have over 140 registered purebred Siberian Huskies…”

- Hank DeBruin, article on DeBruin’s website, 2010

“He [Hank DeBruin] left Wolfe Island 20 years ago, but he and Tanya and the children get back to the island to visit their families a couple of times a year.

‘It’s hard to do when you have 160 dogs,’ he said.”

- Mike Norris, The Whig-Standard, March 22, 2012

Martin Buser has about 100 dogs:

“’If you’re aggressive, you’re never going to have sex,’ said Buser, who still breeds huskies and owns a kennel with about 100 dogs.”

- Don Norcross, The San Diego Union-Tribune, February 26, 2011

Ed Stielstra has 150 dogs:

“The Michigan musher’s kennel of roughly 150 dogs have to eat, after all.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, March 11, 2011
- Mr. Hopkins is talking about Ed Stielstra’s kennel in Michigan.

Peter Kaiser’s kennel with 58 dogs is considered small:

“Pete Kaiser’s kennel is the largest dog yard in Bethel but at 58 dogs it’s considered small for competitive Iditarod standards.”

- Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK, Alaska Public Radio, website, March 1, 2012

Tom Thurston owns 50 dogs:

“I was envisioning, like, cows and horses and stuff,” said Tami Thurston. “Now we have 50 dogs.”

- Tami Thurston is the wife of musher Tom Thurston.
- Anne Herbst, Denver Post, February 26, 2012

Lolly Medley owned 300 dogs:

“She [Lolly Medley] keeps adding to her dog lot. Now numbering between 60 and 70, it has been as high as 300 in the past.”

- Nielsen, Nicki J. The Iditarod: Women on the Trail, Anchorage: Wolfdog Publications, 1986

Diana Dronenburg owns 70 or so dogs:

“While she would like to continue her college education, Diana Dronenburg seems to have found her niche at present amidst the 70 or so dogs at the D&D Kennels and the beautiful Alaskan countryside.”

- Nielsen, Nicki J. The Iditarod: Women on the Trail, Anchorage: Wolfdog Publications, 1986

Don Bowers has nearly 100 dogs:

“Even our half-mile driveway from the road to the dog lot has turned interesting. A young cow moose has come to regard it as her own and is often grazing there when I drive through in my minivan. Usually she will turn and run up the driveway until she nears the dog lot and hears nearly 100 dogs barking at her.”

- Bowers, Don. Back of the Pack, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2000.

DeeDee Jonrowe owns nearly 100 dogs:

“In all, I have nearly a hundred dogs in my kennel.”

- Deedee Jonrowe is talking about her kennel.
- Freedman, Lew and Jonrowe, Deedee. Iditarod Dreams, Seattle: Epicenter Press, 1995

Mike Santos owns 80 dogs:

“[Mike] Santos has been racing dogs off and on for 20 years and has a kennel of 80 dogs.”

- Suzanna Caldwell, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, March 2, 2012

Dallas Seavey owns 100 dogs:

“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

Jeff King owns close to 80 dogs:

“They [Jeff and Donna King] had three daughters and close to eighty dogs.”

- Frederic, Lisa. Running with Champions, Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Books, 2006

Raymie Redington owns over 100 dogs:

“I have over one hundred dogs now.”

- Raymie Redington, Iditarod musher
- Freedman, Lew. More Iditarod Classics: Tales of the Trail Told by the Men & Women Who Race Across Alaska, Kenmore: Epicenter Press, 2004

Dogs are inbred

“The first Scotty x Freckles breeding produced Grover, Blue, Coolie, Swift, Mutt, Trader and Rex. Everyone of these pups made George [Attla's] team.” “He also bred Trader back to Scotty.”

- Welch, Jim. The Speed Mushing Manual, Eagle River: Sirius Publishing, 1990

“I got an in-bred bitch from Joe Redington named ‘Nugget,’ out of the Roamer line.”

- Swenson, Rick. The Secrets of Long Distance Training and Racing, 1987

“I have done quite a bit of in-breeding recently trying to establish some characteristics that will breed true. Whenever you do in-breeding you have to realize that you are probably going to get a below average percentage of acceptable quality dogs.”

- Swenson, Rick. The Secrets of Long Distance Training and Racing, 1987

Inbred dogs often have more health problems and physical defects:

“Inbreeding is breeding between close relatives, such as brother and sister.”

“Inbreed animals often have more health problems and physical defects. Genetic problems are more common; there is increased infant mortality, slower growth rate, smaller adult size, loss of immune function and other possible problems.”

- Dr. Jon Rappaport, Petplace.com, 2012

“Dogs that are inbred often have a much lower immune system function than other dogs. This means that they’ll be much more likely to suffer from illnesses and harmful conditions of all types, from minor infections and colds to serious conditions. The inbred dog has a weaker immune system that is less able to fight off these infections than dogs that have a wider range of genetic diversity.”

- Vetinfo.com, 2012

– Rick Swenson killed dogs for being slow, not wanting to run, throwing their legs out funny, not keeping lines tight:

“If a pup is slow, I am not going to mess with them. It is not worth messing with a pup if it hasn’t got any speed and doesn’t want to go- yes, I am talking about draggers.

That is the first culling – they just plain don’t want to go. Then I look at their gaits or if they throw their legs out funny or obviously are too slow, if their lines are slack all the time. There is no sense wasting good dog food and your time on a dog that isn’t fast enough to keep up.”

“If you want to have trotters, you can save yourself a lot of dog food, keeping the faster ones and eliminating the others.”

- Swenson, Rick. The Secrets of Long Distance Training and Racing, 1987

– How many “unacceptable” dogs has Rick Swenson killed?

“But on the average, a fellow like myself, who raises a minimum of 50 pups every year, using almost all proven breeding stock, still doesn’t get more than two pups out of a litter that wind up making the race team when they are three years old.”

- Swenson, Rick. The Secrets of Long Distance Training and Racing, 1987

Big kennels big suffering

[When mushers have large kennels, dog injuries and illnesses can very often go unnoticed.]

Some medical conditions affecting sled dogs:

- “Hot Spots”

“Any breed of dog can be affected by “hot spots,” but they are most common in dogs that have a thicker hair coat with a lot of undercoat, such as retrievers and sled dogs. A hot spot is created by anything that causes inflammation and breaks down the natural barrier in the skin that protects against infection.” “Allergies, insect bites and minor trauma to the skin are the most common underlying problem. Regular grooming, either at home or professionally will decrease the chance of your pet getting this ugly, painful infection. Hot spots can spread rapidly and often require prescription medications to control them.”

- Nancy, Wilber, DVM, DogsAreOK Magazine, July-August, 2010

Iditarod dogs live on rocks. The rocks injure their paws. Eating rocks can lead to choking, blockages in the throat and intestines, vomiting, diarrhea, broken teeth and damaged soft tissue in the mouth. Photo attributed to Ins1122 on flickr, August 25, 2012

Iditarod dogs live on rocks. The rocks injure their paws. Eating rocks can lead to choking, blockages in the throat and intestines, vomiting, diarrhea, broken teeth and damaged soft tissue in the mouth. Photo attributed to Ins1122 on flickr, August 25, 2012

- Eating rocks (pica):

“Sled dogs eating rocks is a common problem in many kennels and unfortunately, it often leads to death.”

- Ashley Keith, former musher and Iditarod kennel employee who now rescues and rehabilitates abused sled dogs
- Website lakotasong.com, 2010

—  Swallowing sharp rocks can cause serious internal damage in dogs:

“If the foreign body has managed to move to the colon, it will probably successfully pass. But, defecating a sharp object may prove painful and may even need veterinary assistance. Never pull protruding objects from your pet’s rectum. If it is still lodged inside, you can cause serious damage to the internal tissues.”

- Ingrid Pyka, DVM, VPI Pet Health Zone article, 2013

Rocks obstructing dog’s gastrointestinal tract cause necrosis, pain, holes in the intestine and death.

Rocks obstructing dog’s gastrointestinal tract cause necrosis, pain, holes in the intestine and death.

—  Rocks obstructing dog’s gastrointestinal tract cause necrosis, pain, holes in the intestine and death:

“If an intestinal obstruction has occurred, the dog or cat’s condition will decline. Repeated vomiting causes dehydration and electrolyte loss. This can severely weaken the patient.

The effect of the object on the gastrointestinal tract itself will also prove devastating to the body. The pressure of the foreign body against the intestinal wall together with the continued stretching or bunching of the intestines result in poor blood circulation to the tissues. This ultimately causes necrosis (dying off) of those tissues. In addition to being extremely painful, toxic enzymes release into the blood stream, initiating shock.

Eventually, the intestinal wall may break down and perforate (develop a hole). Once this occurs, the acidic and bacterial-contaminated intestinal contents leak into the abdomen. This results in peritonitis (infection of the abdominal space) and sepsis (infection of the bloodstream).

At this point, the patient is very critical. Without intensive intervention, this animal will die. With treatment, such patients can recover. Even the best of efforts, however, some may not survive.”

- Ingrid Pyka, DVM, VPI Pet Health Zone article, 2013

—  Dogs can break teeth chewing on rocks:

“Dogs can break their teeth by chewing on inappropriate items such as rocks, bones, treats (antlers, hooves, etc) and ice cubes that are too hard.”

- Shelter Island Veterinary Hospital, San Diego, CA, website article, 2013

- Hypothermia and frostbite:

“All dogs reach their cold-tolerance limit at some temperature, the Cornell husky-trainer said. ‘If it’s so cold that you can’t go out without extreme cold-weather gear, your dog shouldn’t be outside at that temperature either.’ ‘Bring the dogs inside then’ he advised.”

- Arleigh Reynolds, D.V.M., Ph.D. was an assistant professor at Cornell – Cornell University Science News press release, Dec. 9, 1996, on its website

“The other problem is frostbite of the flanks and frostbite of the penis.”

- Runyan, Joe. Winning Strategies for Distance Mushers. Sacramento: Griffin Printing, 1997

“Frostbite can occur on a dog’s paw but do not usually occur in this area. Frostbite is more commonly seen in area where the hair covering is sparse and the circulation is poor, such as the ear tips, tail tips, and scrotum.”

- Dr. Vern Otte, DVM, DABVP, Critter Connection website, January, 2003

“‘There’s a particular thing that happens with these sled dogs in certain snow conditions where the hair is lost off the back of their wrists, exposing the flexor tendons to potential frostbite. It was a lot of work for me to take care of my dogs,’ said his dad, Mitch Seavey.”

- Kevin Wells, KTUU-TV, KTUU.COM, March 17, 2010

“‘I asked [Frank] Rich how he thought those dogs had died. Rich stated that they either starved or froze to death,’ [Trooper Shayne] Calt wrote.”

- Andrew Wellner, Matsu Valley Frontiersman, January 14, 2011

“Severe frostbite causes blisters, tissue death, open wounds and gangrene: “In more severe cases of frostbite, blisters may form. In even more serious cases however, the deeper tissues become involved, and patches of skin may shrivel and die, sloughing off to leave raw, open wounds. In the most severe cases this may result in gangrene. It is often difficult to distinguish mild and severe cases of frostbite for the first few days…”

- Dr. Linda Aronson, DVM. VetSpeak Section of the Shaggy Sentinel, November, 1997

When mushers have large kennels, gum disease can often go unnoticed.  The disease can devastate a dog’s mouth, causing chronic pain, eroded gums, missing teeth, and bone loss.

Iditarod mushers have many sled dogs, so gum disease often goes unnoticed. The disease can devastate a dog’s mouth, causing chronic pain, eroded gums, missing teeth, and bone loss.

- Periodontal disease or gum disease:

“Gum disease is usually silent. When it starts there are no outward signs and symptoms. Yet once it advances, gum disease can devastate your dog’s mouth, causing chronic pain, eroded gums, missing teeth, and bone loss — a fate hardly fair to man’s best friend.”

- Wendy C. Fries, pets.webmd.com, website article, 2013

“In the mouth, periodontal disease causes damage to gum tissue and bone around the teeth, leading to loss of these tissues. In addition, periodontal disease can also cause the following problems to occur in the mouth:

Development of a hole (fistula) from the oral cavity into the nasal passages causing nasal discharge

Weakening of the jaw bone that can lead to fractures

Bone infection

However, it is important to understand that periodontal disease can lead to other major health problems throughout the body, including the following:

Heart Disease

Kidney Disease

Liver Disease

Diabetes

Various infections”

- Jenna Stregowski, RVT, about.com, website article, 2013
- Jenna Stregowski, RVT is a veterinary technician.

Eye of a dog who has uveodermatologic syndrome

Eye of a dog who has uveodermatologic syndrome

- Pain and blindness from Uveodermatologic syndrome:

“An autoimmune disorder is a condition in which the immune system cannot tell the difference between harmful antigens and its own healthy body tissues, leading it to destroy the healthy body tissues. Uveodermatologic syndrome is one such autoimmune disorder known to affect dogs.

Some breeds are at an increased risk of developing this disorder, including Akitas, Samoyeds, and Siberian huskies.”

- PetMD,com, article, 2013

“Affected dogs usually experience eye problems, including uveitis (inflammation of a layer of the eye), vitiligo (skin depigmentation), and a premature whitening of the hair (poliosis). It’s important to understand that the worst-case scenario for the skin is merely cosmetic, while that for the eyes is much worse: blindness.”

Painful, red eyes are common, and dogs may be sensitive to bright light. Vision changes are often noted when dogs begin to bump into things. Constricted pupils and clouding of the eyes are typical as well. 

Many affected dogs will have vitiligo (depigmentation of the skin) — most evident on the nose, lips, eyelids, footpads, and scrotum, vulva, and anus.”

-  Vetstreet.com, article, 2013

- Serious diseases from dog ticks:

Dogs are at risk for serious diseases that can be transmitted by ticks: Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, canine ehrlichiosis or tick fever, canine babesiosis, anaplasmosis, tick paralysis, and other diseases.

American dog tick. Dogs are at risk for serious diseases that can be transmitted by ticks, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, canine ehrlichiosis or tick fever, canine babesiosis, anaplasmosis and tick paralysis. Photo attributed to Armed Forces Pest Management of flickr.

American dog tick. Dogs are at risk for serious diseases that can be transmitted by ticks, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, canine ehrlichiosis or tick fever, canine babesiosis, anaplasmosis and tick paralysis. Photo attributed to Armed Forces Pest Management of flickr.

“She’s (Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen) found evidence that two exotic species are established and reproducing in Alaska.”

“The brown dog tick seems to be the most prevalent so far….”

“The American dog tick has been found in 10 cases involving dogs and humans from North Pole, Fairbanks, Anchorage, Juneau, Sitka, Valdez, Willow and Denali National Park. This is the other species that seems to be established in Alaska and reproducing in the wild. Other species found in Alaska include the Rocky Mountain wood tick, with two cases involving dogs in Sitka and Anchorage, and the lone star tick, with two cases involving dogs from Fairbanks and Eagle River. Beckmen is not yet convinced that these two ticks are established in state.”

“Beckmen worries that a suite of serious diseases that can be transmitted by ticks are looming on the horizon. These include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, canine ehrlichiosis, canine babesiosis, anaplasmosis, tick paralysis, and tick fever.”

- Rick Sinnott, Alaska Dispatch, January 25, 2014
- Rick Sinnott is a former Alaska Department of Fish and Game wildlife biologist.
- Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen is a veterinarian with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Mushers can't bond with all their dogs

Rob Moore: “Now the mushers do say their dogs are treated very well. And, I read that they have these romantic statements about the strong bond between musher and dog. But can there be a strong bond? And, can there be proper treatment in these kennels or between them and these dogs that they’re breeding to race in this one race? Ethel, I’ll direct that to you.”

Ethel Christensen: “It’s all media hype. I mean, you can’t have anything negative in the media about the Iditarod. And it’s all hype. I’m sorry but it’s just not true. But, don’t get me wrong. I love mushing. I love the recreational mushing and there’s of good people that are mushers out there, but the race is not humane. It’s inhumane and I don’t see how they could possibly bond with all their dogs.”

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: Iditarod mushers routinely have kennels of 90 to 200 dogs.]

- Ethel Christensen is the founder and former Executive Director of the Alaska SPCA
- Rob Moore hosts Animal Voices, a radio show in Toronto, Canada.
- This interview was done on February 28, 2006

Many dogs have no names

“The mushers don’t have much interaction with the dogs, it’s mostly the handlers that are responsible for their upkeep. In the large kennels, the mushers don’t know one dog from another unless the dog is on the main team. The dogs who are not on the main team don’t have names.”

- 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

Dogs in remote areas don't get veterinary care

Dr. Paula Kislak: “Most of these mushers live really out in very remote areas, so there is no way that these dogs are getting any veterinary care at all, except what’s being administered by the musher him or herself. And, of course the euthanasia, they would never bring an animal in by airplane or lengthy drives to be euthanized. So, they’re going to use whatever they find the most expedient. And of course a gunshot, well that uses a bullet and it’s cheaper even just to drown them, because every penny that they spend, literally every penny that they spend going into animal care or animal destruction is out of their profit or bottom line. And they look at it that way.”

Janice Blue: “It’s really disgusting.”

- Janice Blue is the host of the radio program Go Vegan Texas, KPFT
- Dr. Paula Kislak, DVM, is president of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights
- The interview was done on February 27, 2006

Sick and injured dogs often get no veterinary care

No veterinary care for sick and injured dogs:

“Professional treatment is expensive and not always successful, and many mushers won’t try to throw good money after a sick pup (or they simply can’t afford to).”

- Bowers, Don. Back of the Pack, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2000.

“Because there are so many dogs in the larger kennels, handlers just clean up the poop and give the dogs food, so the socialization aspect is definitely lacking along with personal care for toenails, grooming, etc. In these kennels, handlers don’t know the individual dogs well and often don’t recognize when the dogs are sick. Also, most handlers don’t stay long and don’t get to know the dogs. The dogs that get the most attention are those who run the fastest.

The dogs don’t always get vet care when they are sick or injured. And it is cheaper to just let the dog die. God forbid parvo or something like that ever hit one of these places – it would be a mess. With some dogs, mushers have a ‘wait and see’ policy. It’s horrid to see the dogs sitting there in obvious discomfort, let me tell you. The more valuable dogs get better vet care.”

- 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

“I’ve seen firsthand dogs left on chains for months on end with basically no attention other than being given food and water, some with inadequate shelter from the elements, others with unattended illnesses or injuries.”

- Rebecca Knight, Anchorage Daily News, May 30, 2007
- Rebecca Knight lives in the Mat-Su Borough with her husband and nine huskies. She also volunteers for an animal rescue organization.

“Veterinary treatments are expensive, and I was told the dogs receive little or any veterinary treatment as they ‘are so hardy’ they never get sick. I found this hard to believe, and did witness some dogs with eye infections that were not treated.”

- 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.

Amputation of canine teeth in sled dogs

American Veterinary Dental College opposes crown amputation:

“The American Veterinary Dental College expresses concern regarding the amputation (‘cutting’) of canine teeth in sled dogs. It is felt that there are methods available that are more modern, less painful and associated with fewer complications. AVDC encourages practitioners to use currently accepted dental techniques.”

- Adopted by the American Veterinary Dental College Board of Directors, April 21 1996, website article, 2009

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association describes an amputation:

“The actual procedure involves manual restraint, the use of a mouth gag, and breaking off the four canine teeth near the gum line using metal snippers (large bolt or wire cutters). Typically, no anesthetic nor analgesic is used during the cutting, and no care is provided to the dog following this extremely painful procedure. Infection and chronic pain are the major complications arising from this procedure. The procedure conducted in this manner is inappropriate and inhumane.”

- Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, revised 2003, website article, 2009

Dogs don't get fresh water every day

“I know of very few kennels that provide fresh water every day. Most don’t give any water in the winter except with meals (a soup mixture) because it’s near impossible to keep hundreds of water buckets from freezing without hours of extra work every day.”

- 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

Horrific conditions in Iditarod champion's kennel

“When I traveled to work for a champion Iditarod and touring kennel in Alaska, I found that over two hundred dogs lived in dilapidated wooden dog houses and plastic barrels, without straw. Even though the temperatures were below zero at night, the few elderly dogs that were present received no bedding or extra care. They slowly crawled out of their dog houses each morning, arthritic and constantly growing thinner from the cold. Poorly constructed and maintained houses are bad because they provide little to no warmth for the dog. Temperatures are bad enough in Alaska, but wind chill factors make it even worse.”

- 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

Few sled dogs are adopted

“She [Marcie Moriarty] added the SPCA has always maintained it is difficult to find adoptive homes for sled dogs because of the way they are raised and kept on tethers.”

- Marcie Moriarty is the SPCA’s head animal cruelty investigator in British Columbia.
- Sam Cooper, The Province, February 2, 2011

“So far this spring, the shelter [the North Star Borough Animal Shelter] has reached its maximum at 25 huskies. In one week, three were put to death. Five were adopted, which is encouraging but it’s very rare to have that many find homes in one week,” said Sandy Klimaschesky, the lead animal tender at the shelter. 

”Sometimes because the shelter is so full, some dogs go right from the front door to be euthanized,” she said.

But the facts are that each year, more than 1,000 sled dogs wind up at the shelter and of those, only about a third are adopted.

- Associated Press, Anchorage Daily News, May 7, 2007

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: The Fairbanks North Star Borough is one of 32 geographic areas listed by the United States Census Bureau.]

Iditarod kennels compared to recreational musher kennels

“Few recreational mushers cull or sell dogs, choosing instead to keep them for the duration of their lives. Doing so inevitably produces a retirement-home-type situation.

‘My yard is really big because I have a lot of old dogs,’ [Helyn] Lefgren said. “I don’t get rid of them when they get old or can’t run fast enough. 

All the recreational mushers I know have the same commitment to the dogs,” she said.

- Tim Mowry, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, March 20, 2008

Dogs suffer in frigid weather

Sled dogs often face subzero temperatures in their kennels. They've gotten painful frostbite of the penis, scrotum, vulva, nipples and tail.

Sled dogs often face subzero temperatures in their kennels. They’ve gotten painful frostbite of the penis, scrotum, vulva, nipples and tail.

Frostbite of the scrotum, nipples, vulva, ear tips, tails and paws:
“Frostbite occurs when body parts actually freeze, and ice crystals form in the tissue, causing it to die. 

Most frostbite lesions in dogs and cats are in areas that are more exposed and have less hair, such as ear tips, tails, scrotum, nipples, and vulva.”

- Dr. Marvin Ordway, DVM, Friends and Neighbors Magazine, December 15, 2011

“In extreme cold weather, your dog can get frostbite on their paw-pads.”

- Rockledge Veterinary Hospital, website article 2014

“Dogs left in the cold for long periods of time are also at risk for frostbite on paws (and other extremities – ears, tail, etc.) and hypothermia. It is not advised that dogs spend hours in the cold.” 

- Pulaski Veterinary Clinic, website article, 2014

Dogs forced to whelp outside in frigid temperatures:

“Due to my heavy involvement in this ‘sport,’ I’ve been able to witness atrocities that many will never hear of or see – nor would they want to. These include: “Pregnant dogs forced to whelp outside, in the middle of a frigid winter, in uninsulated wooden huts.”

- Ashley Keith, former musher and Iditarod kennel employee who now rescues and rehabilitates abused sled dogs
- Email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, April 30, 2008

Dogs can’t get warm:


“And the dogs were thoroughly miserable to boot, shivering in their houses and under their trees in the bone-chilling drizzle.”

- Bowers, Don. Back of the Pack, Anchorage: Publication Consultants, 2000.

“I defy anyone to walk through a dog yard at 40 below and see the dogs in their houses (if they have a house) trying to stay warm in their frozen urine soaked straw.”

- Mike Cranford, dog handler, Two Rivers, Alaska, letter sent to the Sled Dog Action Coalition on February 28, 2000.

Frigid temperatures:

“‘You can work indoors today,’ said Jeff [King] one morning. I smiled wryly. Good idea. The temperature was -40 degrees F.”

Frederic, Lisa. Running with Champions, Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Books, 2006

Sled dogs fed unsanitary, expired and rotting food

Iditarod mushers give their sled dogs rotten meat to eat.

Iditarod mushers give their sled dogs rotting meat to eat.

“Due to my heavy involvement in this ‘sport,’ I’ve been able to witness atrocities that many will never hear of or see – nor would they want to. These include: Dogs being fed expired dog food and rotting meat.”

- Ashley Keith, former musher and Iditarod kennel employee who now rescues and rehabilitates abused sled dogs
- Email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, April 30, 2008

Dogs’ meat left sitting around all day to thaw:

“Add enough hot water to cover the stuff in the bucket and let it thaw all day.”

“Some people get pretty finicky about dirty buckets and bowls, and bacteria counts in food, etc., so I probably should defend myself and my unsanitary practice of leaving meat sit around thawing all day.

But I won’t.”

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

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 injure their paws. Eating rocks can lead to choking, blockages in the throat and intestines, vomiting, diarrhea, broken teeth and damaged soft tissue in the mouth.
Photo attributed to Ins1122 on flickr, August 25, 2012

Volcanic ash from Mount Redoubt eruptions dangerous for dogs

Alaska Volcano Observatory says dogs shouldn’t breathe in ash:

“What was I going to do with a team of huskies who, according to Alaska Volcano Observatory recommendations, should not breathe in the fine glass-like particles found in Redoubt’s emissions?”

“My dilemma is small compared with that of mushers of large kennels, whose lots further north and northeast are much more at risk. What about the mushers off Petersville Road, where the ash has already been reported? What are Jeff King’s dogs doing up in Denali, where there also have been trace amounts of ash found?”

- Melissa DeVaugh, Anchorage Daily News, March 27, 2009

Alaska Red Cross says bring dogs inside to protect them from breathing volcanic ash:

“What to Do During a Volcanic Eruption: Bring animals and livestock into closed shelters to protect them from breathing volcanic ash.”

- Alaska Red Cross, website article, March, 2009

April 21, 1990 eruption cloud from Mount Redoubt Volcano. The Alaska Volcano Observatory said that dogs should not breathe in the fine glass-like particles found in Redoubt’s emissions. Photo attributed to wikimedia

April 21, 1990 eruption cloud from Mount Redoubt Volcano. The Alaska Volcano Observatory said that dogs should not breathe in the fine glass-like particles found in Redoubt’s emissions. Mount Redoubt continues to be an active volcano. Photo attributed to wikimedia

Volcanic ash can be a persistent hazard for dogs:

“Even after a series of ash-producing eruptions has ended, wind and human activity can stir up fallen ash for months or years, presenting a long-term health and economic hazard.”

- U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet, website, 2009

After Iditarod, dogs with compromised lungs face ash hazards:

- 81 percent of the dogs who finish the Iditarod have lung damage:

“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

- Airway dysfunction persists despite 4 months of rest:

“CONCLUSIONS: Racing Alaskan sled dogs have airway dysfunction similar to ‘ski asthma’ that persists despite having 4 months of rest. These findings suggest that repeated exercise in cold conditions can lead to airway disease that does not readily resolve with cessation of exercise.”

- Davis M, Williamson K, McKenzie E, Royer C, Payton M, Nelson S., “Effect of training and rest on respiratory mechanical properties in racing sled dogs.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 2005 Feb;37(2):337-41 on PubMed website.

What is Volcanic Ash?

“Small jagged pieces of rocks, minerals, and volcanic glass the size of sand and silt (less than 1/12 inch or 2 millimeters in diameter) erupted by a volcano are called volcanic ash. Very small ash particles can be less than 1/25,000th of an inch (0.001 millimeter) across.

Though called “ash,” volcanic ash is not the product of combustion, like the soft fluffy material created by burning wood, leaves, or paper. Volcanic ash is hard, does not dissolve in water, is extremely abrasive and mildly corrosive, and conducts electricity when wet.

Volcanic ash is formed during explosive volcanic eruptions. Explosive eruptions occur when gases dissolved in molten rock (magma) expand and escape violently into the air, and also when water is heated by magma and abruptly flashes into steam. The force of the escaping gas violently shatters solid rocks. Expanding gas also shreds magma and blasts it into the air, where it solidifies into fragments of volcanic rock and glass.

Once in the air, hot ash and gas rise quickly to form a towering eruption column, often more than 30,000 feet high. Larger rock fragments more than 2 inches across ejected by the explosion typically fall within a few miles of the eruption site. However, wind can quickly blow fine ash away from the volcano to form an eruption cloud. As the cloud drifts downwind from the erupting volcano, the ash that falls from the cloud typically becomes smaller in size and forms a thinner layer. Ash clouds can travel thousands of miles, and some even circle the earth.”

- U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet, website, 2009

Yukon River flooding obliterates dog kennels

“Villages damaged by recent Yukon River flooding are sending out an urgent plea for dog food.”

“One Tanana musher, Pat Moore, lost his fish camp and with it, his dog food supply.

‘His entire camp got obliterated,’ [Mark] Haglin said, noting Moore is not alone.

‘Everybody’s saving table scraps and things to feed the dogs,’ he said.

In other places, such as Stevens Village, raging water wiped out dog yards as it washed into the community. Canines are tied to trees with bowls of water, waiting for new doghouses as residents begin the slow process of rebuilding homes.”

- Mark Haglin is Tanana’s Fire Chief
- Rena Delbridge, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, May 20, 2009

Law classifies sled dogs as livestock

“‘Livestock’ means outdoor animals (i.e. cows, goats, horses, pigs, sled dogs, barnyard fowl, etc.) kept for the purpose of providing food, clothing, work or recreation.”

- Matanuska-Susitna Borough ordinance number 08-161

Sled dogs have no shelters

Without shelters, Iditarod sled dogs have no protection from the frigid cold, snow or wind. Dogs can easily get painful frostbite of the penis, scrotum, nipples, flanks, ears and tail. Photo attributed to LexnGer on flickr

Without shelters, Iditarod sled dogs have no protection from the frigid cold, snow or wind. Dogs can easily get painful frostbite of the penis, scrotum, nipples, vulva, flanks, ears and tail. Photo attributed to LexnGer on flickr

“The dogs had slept on snow all winter on the trapline, had very thick coats, and did not adapt well to the warm weather.”

- Joe Runyan is talking about the dogs he raced in his first Iditarod in 1983.
- Joe Runyan, Alaska Dispatch, March 8, 2011

“The dogs were spread out in the woods, trap-line style, tethered by their chains to logs and black spruce.”

- Lance Mackey. The Lance Mackey Story, Fairbanks: Zorro Books, LLC, 2010

“Out the door and down to the dogs. They are tethered along a narrow band of alders on the shore of a small frozen backwater of the Churchill.”

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

From age 9-weeks, puppies fed once a day

“Feed the pups twice a day for about two weeks after weaning or until about nine weeks of age. Then, being the mean so-and-so that I am, I go to feeding only once a day for pups. Ignore the bag. Ignore the vet. Just feed them as much as they will ‘wolf down’ (interesting term there) in about thirty seconds, once a day.”

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

Sled dogs starved

“I have witnessed the following with my own eyes and have on more than one occasion stepped in and stopped the beatings, killing and abuse: 1. Dogs fed only a watery soup in order to control their weight.”

- Mike Cranford, dog handler, Two Rivers, Alaska, letter dated January 26, 2001

“He (Colonel Tom Classen) confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their optimum racing weight.”

- Jon Saraceno, USA Today, March 3, 2000
- Tom Classen is a retired Air Force colonel who has lived in Alaska over 20 years.

Iditarod sled dogs hoard their own poop to eat. Photo attributed to garycycles5 on flickr

Iditarod sled dogs hoard their own poop to eat. Photo attributed to garycycles5 on flickr

Dogs hoard their own feces to eat:

“I defy anyone of compassion to walk through a dog lot at – 40 and not realize the sad situation of these dogs. Hoarding their own feces to eat and laying on a frozen block of urine.”

- Mike Cranford, dog handler, letter to the Sled Dog Action Coalition

Dogs punished when they don't eat

“If the dog doesn’t eat everything in about 30 seconds, do not just leave food laying around thinking he may eat more at a later time. Take the food away. Give the dog only clear water the next day and half rations the following day. Resume regular feeding the fourth day.”

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

“I have also skipped the evening meal on a few dogs that decide they don’t want their morning broth.”

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

Thirsty dogs can't reach into water buckets to get a drink.  The dogs have plastic shelters which can get too hot or too cold. Photo attributed to minkey8885 on flickr

Thirsty sled dogs can’t reach into water buckets to get a drink. The dogs have plastic shelters which can get too hot or too cold. Photo attributed to minkey8885 on flickr

Sled dog trucks can be dangerous for dogs

“Many mushers transport sled dogs in trucks that have several rows of compartments or crates without doors stacked on top of each other and open to the inside of the vehicle. The dogs are chained into the compartments.  A dog being transported in this manner is at risk of suffering strangulation, asphyxiation or a crushed larynx (windpipe) by their chains and collars if they fall or jump out of their open crates, especially from the upper levels, when the vehicle turns sharply, or in excitement, or from compulsive circling from the boredom of lengthy transport. In addition, the wooden compartments cannot be adequately sanitized and are subject to fecal and urine contamination which can result in inflammatory and infectious diseases of the ocular, respiratory and digestive systems. Dogs chained into the same crate are likely to fight and get injured.”

- Paula Kislak, DVM, Director, Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, May 18, 2011, email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition

Dogs are at risk of suffering strangulation, asphyxiation or a crushed larynx (windpipe) by their chains and collars if they fall or jump out of their open compartments, especially at the upper levels, photo attributed to TravisS on flickr

Dogs are at risk of suffering strangulation, asphyxiation or a crushed larynx (windpipe) by their chains and collars if they fall or jump out of their open compartments, especially at the upper levels, photo attributed to TravisS on flickr

Dog injured bolting out of box on dog truck:

“It was finally time to get the dogs out, put their booties on and harness them up. Then… a major bummer blow. Margi [Eastman] was getting Hermione out, when Herm bolted out of the box for some reason, catapulting over Margi’s head and landing on top of Margie in a big crazy mess. Herm came up lame, very lame, on a back leg. Her hock was swelling before our eyes.”

- Dr. Tamara Rose, DVM, her blog entry on May 11, 2010

Spontaneous combustion of straw in dog box:

“One musher’s box almost burned up in the summer because of spontaneous combustion in the damp straw.”

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

Dogs doubled up in one compartment fight:

Two dogs crammed into a small box can easily fight and injure each other.

Iditarod mushers sometimes cram two dogs into a small box on their trucks. These dogs can easily fight and injure each other. Photo courtesy of SledDogma.org

“We stopped once to check on two dogs we’d had to double up in one compartment. They were already arguing.”

- Riddles, Libby and Tim Jones. Race Across Alaska, Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

Musher 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

Sled dog poop creates infectious and painful living conditions for dogs

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.

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.

Dog waste can attract flies and pests (rats, mice, etc.):

“The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the typical dog excretes three quarters of a pound of waste per day—or 274 pounds per year.

A musher with a modest-sized kennel of 20 dogs must dispose of more than two tons of dog waste annually!

To get an idea of the scale of the dog waste generated in Alaska, consider that in Fairbanks and Anchorage alone, an estimated 20 million pounds of dog waste is produced each year.

Left alone, dog waste can pollute ground and surface water, attract flies and pests, cause an unpleasant odor, and create unsanitary living conditions for dogs. Dog waste can also transmit parasites and infectious diseases.”

- Natural Resources Conservation Service, Alaska Office, website article, June, 2011

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: When there are piles of dog feces on the ground or in open holes near the dogs, pests (rats, mice, etc.) and flies can easily attack the dogs and contaminate their food and water.]

Fly bites are painful and can become infected:

“Ticks, biting flies, and mosquitoes can cause red swollen areas of the skin, which itch and can sometimes become infected. Fly bites can pose a special nuisance to outdoor pets. Fly bites can cause crusty bumps or sores, especially around the ears or face, that can become infected if left untreated.”

- Written and reviewed by John A. Bukowski, DVM, MPH, PhDand Susan E. Aiello, DVM, ELS
- Webvet.com, June, 2011

“Fly bites cause a common condition in outside dogs, often called “fly strike.” It most frequently occurs…when flies land on and bite the tips and top surface of the dog’s ears. They may also bite the bridge of the nose. They are biting the dog to obtain a blood meal and the bite is often painful. Because of the thin skin and hair on the ears and the inability of the dog to defend his ears, flies will seek out this location. Some of these dogs will endure hundreds of bites a day for weeks at a time. Anyone that has ever been bitten by a stable fly knows how painful the bite is. If you see blood spots or flies congregating near your dog’s ears then you can assume fly bites are occurring. The bite wounds attract flies which may lay their eggs in the damaged tissue. These will later hatch into maggots.”

- Peteducation.com, June, 2011

Dogs chained near hole where dog feces and dead dogs were dumped:

“I worked in an Iditarod kennel where the dog waste was put in the same pit where they dumped their dead dogs. The hole was close to the dogs. I had to walk next to or behind dog houses to dump the wheelbarrel of dog feces into the pit.”

- Ashley Keith, former musher and Iditarod kennel employee who now rescues and rehabilitates abused sled dogs.
- Email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, June 20, 2011

Dogs chained close to large hole containing dog feces:

“I worked in an Iditarod kennel where dogs’ fecal matter was dumped in a large hole in the ground located close to where the dogs were chained.”

- Jane Stevens, former Iditarod kennel employee
- Email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, June 23, 2011

Mushers break the law

The law in Mat-Su, a borough in Alaska, requires people owning five or more dogs to register as a kennel:

23.10.020(A) “Registration required. In addition to the registration requirements of MSB 24.10.010, no person shall own or operate a kennel or cattery or own five or more dogs or cats over the age of six months without registering as a kennel or cattery operator for each location of a kennel or cattery.”

- Mat-Su Borough Code, Mat-Su Borough website

Iditarod mushers who break the law by not registering their kennels:

Martin Buser
Kathleen Frederick
Kelley Griffen
Matt Hayashida
Lynda Plettner
Ryan Reddington
Ray Reddington, Jr.
Justin Savidis
Heather Siirtola
Cim Smyth

- Mat-Su Borough documents about unlicensed kennels in the borough, May 17, 2011
- Current Internet information shows that these mushers have five or more dogs who are over the age of six months.

Iditarod mushers devocalize (debark) their dogs

“Squeaky (formerly known as ‘Rob’) was bred and spend the first part of his life in the US, but in the summer of ’01, he came up to live with us. He has quickly adapted to working life and is a valued team member. I often mistake him in harness for his Grandfather, Spud – that is quite a complement! Squeaky gets his nickname from his debarked status. Major Races: Iditarod 2003, Iditarod 2004.”

- Iditarod musher Karen Ramstead, her website northwapiti.com, January 20, 2012

“I debarked Jewels Monday August 1st. Most of my dogs are debarked, I used to debark all of them, because of the neighbor problems.”

- Iditarod musher Eric Rogers, his website northbounddogs.com, January 20, 2012

“Iditarod musher and veterinarian Dr. Roland “Doc” Lombard says debarking 10 of his 50 dogs has made no difference in their performance.”

- Amy Bermar, Anchorage Daily News, June 15, 1982

“We’re just in a unique circumstance where we live, in that we don’t have a lot of close neighbors, and I do tend to de-bark the loud dogs, which helps considerably,” [Robert] Bundtzen said.

- Melissa Devaughn, Anchorage Daily News, February 22, 2003
- Robert Bundtzen is an Iditarod musher.

“KEIKO is Rom’s sister, Female, DOB 5/28/02 (7 of 9’s pup). Approx. 50 lbs, debarked, spayed, a little shy.  Keiko is a young, happy, hard driving, fast, girl who has been leading since she was a pup.  As a two year old she is rapidly becoming one of my main leaders. Finished the Iditarod in 2006, but as the team has gotten faster has not wanted to run lead very often.”

“ROM is Keiko’s brother – debarked, neutered and very affectionate.  DOB 5/28/02  (7 of 9’s pup). Runs anywhere from wheel to swing. Makes an excellent wheel dog. Rom finished the 2006 Iditarod.”

- Dogsled.net, January 20, 2012

Here’s what experts say about the cruelties of debarking:

- Debarking is inhumane:

“‘Debarking is not a medically necessary procedure,’ Dr. Klausner said. ‘We think it’s not humane to the dogs to put them through the surgery and the pain. We just do not think that it should be performed.’”

- Dr. Jeffrey Klausner is the senior vice president and chief medical officer of Banfield, the Pet Hospital, which has more than 750 veterinary practices across the country.
- Sam Dolnick, New York Times, February 2, 2010

“These amputations are strictly for the benefit of the owner. They serve no therapeutic or medical purpose. They are not surgeries in the true sense of the word.

The word mutilation is much more appropriate.”

- Charles Danten, DVM, in a speech presented to the Montreal Rotary Club on January 6, 2000, and published on Dr. Danten’s website

- Debarking surgery is very dangerous:

“[Dr. Nicholas] Dodman said there is a risk to any surgery, but operating in the vocal cord area is very dangerous because it’s hard to administer anesthetics and there’s a lot of blood in the area. Animals may suffer from infections, scar tissue, trouble breathing, and hemorrhaging or aspiration pneumonia from devocalization procedures. ‘Some dogs have died in different stages (of the procedure),’ said Dodman. ‘This is what’s called a convenient surgery. Some surgeries are necessary. But this is a cosmetic surgery like ear cropping and tail cropping. You’re removing a natural part of a dog.’”

- Dr. Nicholas Dodman, DACVB is a veterinarian behaviorist of about 50 in the world.
- David Ertischek, West Roxbury Transcript, June 16, 2009

- Debarking interferes with breathing:

“Excessive tissue removal results in scar tissue formation that can interfere with breathing.”

- Letter from Christine M. Runnels, DVM, Diplomat, American College of Veterinary Surgeons, March 7, 2005

“Dr. Gary W. Ellison, of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida, cautioned that the procedure can lead to complications. He said he has had to operate on debarked dogs after excess scar tissue built up in the throat, making it difficult for the dog to breathe.”

- Sam Dolnick, New York Times, February 2, 2010

- Debarked dogs more prone to aspirate digestive juices leading to pneumonia:

Dr. Paula Kislak: “This surgery is especially bad, because even under the best of circumstances animals, because of the messing around in the throat area, that are debarked are more prone to aspirate their own digestive juices. And when dogs are put under these intense circumstances of racing and they’re gasping all the time, they’re constantly aspirating or inhaling any vomit or digestive juice that comes up in their mouth, and that sets them up for life-threatening aspiration pneumonias. So that’s a double whammy of the debarking.”

Rob Moore: “This debarking, what is the procedure?”

Dr. Paula Kislak: “It’s a surgical procedure requiring general anesthesia. There’s two actual procedures one goes from the outside of the throat and one goes from the inside of the throat, but it’s the cutting of the vocal cords basically.”

- Dr. Paula Kislak, DVM, is president of the Association of Veterinarins for Animal Rights – Rob Moore hosts Animal Voices, a radio show in Toronto Canada.
- This interview was done on February 28, 2006

Dogs rejected from racing in Iditarod not given vaccinations

“Mackey said he thinks this year’s mandatory kennel cough vaccinations are a good idea, though the price to get shots for every dog was steep. Without mandatory vaccinations, he said, there is often a lot of skimping on the part of mushers.

‘I was one of those people,’ he said. ‘The team that we know we’re taking we’ll vaccinate.”

- Andrew Wellner, Frontiersman, March 2, 2012

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

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

Dead dogs fed to other dogs

“Sometimes the dogs were skinned and the fur used to make mittens and parka ruffs, and in some kennels the dogs are fed to other dogs.”

- Mike Cranford, dog handler, Two Rivers, Alaska, letter sent to the Sled Dog Action Coalition on February 28, 2000.

Were sick horses fed to dogs?

“My shop was set up to handle carcasses, such as horses. A meat saw quickly put the meat into chunks that could be gobbled by a meat grinder.”

“The Fairbanks area supports about 4,000 horses, which is a lot. At any one time there is likely to be a 1200 LB hay burner [horse] with a problem [emphasis added] available for the giant maw of a meat grinder. To me, it was a $500 dollar windfall of great dog feed when I got the call.”

- Runyan, Joe. Winning Strategies for Distance Mushers, Sacramento: Griffin Printing Co., 1997

Dogs deprived of food and water

“If we have ten puppies in the pen, we give them nine dippers of food. There is never quite enough so that everybody has their fill.”

“They will get water in the morning, maybe they will get water again in the afternoon and maybe they will get water at night.

But the rest of the time, they are not going to have full pans of water sitting around in their pan. I dump the pans of water back in the bucket or spill them. The dogs drink when there is water and they eat when there is food.”

- Swenson, Rick. The Secrets of Long Distance Training and Racing, 1987

– Dogs need to have fresh water available at all times:

“Clean, thawed drinking water should always be available”.

- The Pet Stop, Anchorage, Alaska, website article

KEEP FRESH WATER AVAILABLE AT ALL TIMES!!! Change your pet’s water daily or more frequently if necessary.

- Hudson Road Animal Hospital, Woodbury, MN, website article

“It’s important to always keep plenty of fresh water around where your pets have easy access.”

- Princeton Veterinary Animal Hospital, Princeton, IN, website article

Dogs endure mud, dust, slop and filth of ungodly magnitude

“I will admit to having kept some kennels over the years that should by rights have landed me in jail, facing a firing squad manned by the local humane society. My dogs have for days at a time endured mud, slop and filth of ungodly magnitude.”

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

“Mud is a real problem during rainy spells and dust plagues you during dry spells.”

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

Plastic and metal houses are hazardous for dogs

From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: Some mushers have plastic or metal houses for their dogs.

Plastic and metal houses are too hot in summer and too cold in winter:

Iditarod sled dogs often have metal shelters and metal water bowls and cans. A dog's tongue and lips can get stuck to the metal, causing a painful injury. Photo attributed to Tambako The Jaguar on flickr

Look at this sled dog’s tongue. Iditarod dogs often have metal shelters and metal water bowls and cans. A dog’s tongue and lips can get stuck to cold metal, causing painful injuries. Photo attributed to Tambako The Jaguar on flickr

“Plastic and metal houses are not a good idea, as they are either too hot during summertime or too cold during the winter.”

- New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, website article, 2012

Dog gets stuck half-way out of his metal house:

Dallas Seavey: “Next over here we have Suds. Suds is getting stuck half-way in his house.”

- Dallas Seavey talking in his kennel, video Dallas Seavey – Lead Dogs for 2010 Iditarod uploaded by jjkelleriditarod onto youtube.com on March 1, 2010

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: When Suds tried to get out of his metal shelter, did he ever get cut on the sharp edge?]

A dog’s tongue could freeze to metal dog house:

“Besides being cold, if a dog licked a dog house made of metal, their tongue would freeze to it.”

- Mike Cranford, Iditarod dog handler, letter to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, 2012

Dogs eat their own stools (coprophagia)

“No one could walk through a dog lot at -40 and not be moved at the sight of a shivering dog chewing on his poop that he had stored in his house.”

- Mike Cranford, Iditarod dog handler, letter to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, 2012

Starving Iditarod sled dogs eat poop. “No one could walk through a dog lot at -40 and not be moved at the sight of a shivering dog chewing on his poop that he had stored in his house.” - Mike Cranford, Iditarod dog handler, letter to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, 2012

Starving Iditarod sled dogs eat poop. “No one could walk through a dog lot at -40 and not be moved at the sight of a shivering dog chewing on his poop that he had stored in his house.”
- Mike Cranford, Iditarod dog handler, letter to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, 2012  - Photo attributed to phoosh on flickr

Why do adult dogs eat their own poop?

“When adult dogs begin to eat stools, it may also be due to malabsorption of nutrients or to dietary nutritional deficiencies. In addition, any condition that might cause an increase in appetite or an unusual appetite, such as diabetes, Cushing’s disease, thyroid disease, or treatment with certain drugs such as steroids may lead to an increase in stool eating. Dogs that are placed on extreme calorie restriction or that are fed poorly balanced diets may also begin to eat their stools.”

- VCA Animal Hospitals, website article, 2012

Iditarod mushers routinely shoot their unwanted sled dogs. Dogs also been shot for fun. Photo attributed to Augustas Didzgalvis on Wikipedia

Iditarod mushers routinely shoot their unwanted sled dogs. Dogs have also been shot for fun. Photo attributed to Augustas Didzgalvis on Wikipedia

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 fouth wall with a small hole.

- Sled Dog Action Coalition

Heat stroke 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 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

Smoke from wildfires is especially hazardous for Iditarod dogs

Wildfire burns where sled dogs live:

“Nearly 700 firefighters were working to try to control the blaze, which is the most serious of the more than 90 wildfires actively burning in Alaska, fire information officer Rich Phelps said. Firefighting teams include several crews from the Lower 48 states.

 The affected area, with the unincorporated communities of Two Rivers and Pleasant Valley, is home to several top-ranked sled-dog racers and their kennels. 

Smoke from this and other wildfires has created hazardous condition in interior Alaska.”

- Disaster News Network, July 8, 2013

This is smoke from one of the 90 wildfires that were burning in Alaska in June/July, 2013. Smoke can cause lung irritation and damage in dogs as well as inflammation that can result in life-threatening pneumonia and permanent scarring of tissues. Photo attributed to AlaskaNPS on flickr taken June 26, 2013

This is a photo of smoke from one of the 90 wildfires that were burning in Alaska in June/July, 2013. Smoke can cause lung irritation and damage in sled dogs as well as inflammation that can result in life-threatening pneumonia and permanent scarring of tissues. Photo attributed to AlaskaNPS on flickr taken June 26, 2013

Smoke inhalation is especially hazardous for Iditarod dogs:

 ”Smoke is just as hazardous for dogs as it is for people or other animals with lungs. The same complications can occur: damage to the delicate tissues that are critical for absorbing oxygen; irritation and inflammation that can result in life-threatening pneumonia; permanent scarring of tissues so that breathing will be difficult for the remainder of the individual’s life. Because dogs used for pulling sleds have exceptional demands placed on them, the negative effects of smoke inhalation are even more problematic and collapse and death from lung failure during ‘training’ or racing can be the result.”

- Veterinarian Nedim C. Buyukmihci, V.M.D, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis in email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, July 10, 2013

Dogs raffled off like pieces of merchandise

“Over the course of the Iditarod all of you wonderful SPKDogLog supporters and fans will have your chance to take home one of five ‘Iditarod Dogs,’  ’Willow’, ‘Anvik’, ‘Kaltag’, ‘Koyuk’ or ‘Quesadilla.’” 

“As their respective musher reaches each of the namesake checkpoints we will give you a chance to win! As you know, Willow is the home of the restart so to win her simply email us your name and address to spkdoglog@gmail.com before midnight (Alaska time) on Tuesday, 5th March and we’ll draw the lucky winner’s name out of a hat. Good luck!

Quesadilla, one of Taco’s litter-mates, will ride the entire race with Aliy in her sled and we will run a special competition at the end of the race to win him.”

- Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore, SPKDogLog, March 3, 2013

No reputable breeder, rescue or shelter raffles off pets:

“Aliy Zirkle and her husband, Allen Moore, who are raffling off Huskies, clearly have no experience in placing a pet in a new home. No reputable shelter or rescue would ever think of raffling off any pet because serious effort must be made to insure a suitable owner. Nor would a reputable breeder raffle off a dog. Even breeders trying to make money from selling a dog want it to go to a suitable home, not someone who for a “lark” joins a raffle and ends up with a dog they may not actually want, thereby condemning the dog to the possibility of euthanasia in a kill shelter. 

Obviously, Zirkle and Moore care little for the dogs they breed- hard to imagine that the state government has no laws to prevent this kind of behavior. On the other hand, it IS Alaska and maybe those of us in the other 49 states look at life and one’s sense of responsibility quite differently. And because Huskies “up there” are treated like beasts of burden, unlike here, where they are considered a family pet, the population up there may see them as something easily expendable and not worthy of a humane existence. Hard to understand what else, besides, of course, MONEY, could be the motivation. Certainly not concern for the animal.”

- Jane Heller, founder and director of The Humane Society of Southern Maryland Inc. and York, PA
- Email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, March 6, 2013

Don't risk your health by visiting an Iditarod dog kennel in Alaska

Pre-race Iditarod vet check finds Salmonella in 69 percent of the dogs: 

“Twenty-six normal asymptomatic dogs representing 13 teams were sampled during a routine prerace veterinary inspection. Of these, Salmonella was isolated from 18/26 (69%).” 

- Cantor, Glenn H.; Nelson, Stuart; Vanek, Jerome A.; Evermann, James F.; Eriks, Inge S.; Basaraba, Randall J. and Besser, Thomas E. “Salmonella shedding in racing sled dogs.” Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation : Official Publication of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, Inc. 1997 (October).

Micrograph of Salmonella (red). Iditarod dogs have a high prevalence of Salmonella compared to other dogs. Salmonella shedding by dogs is a possible source of Salmonella infection in humans. Photo attributed to Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH.

Micrograph of invading Salmonella (red). Iditarod dogs have a high prevalence of Salmonella compared to other dogs. Salmonella shedding by dogs is a possible source of Salmonella infection in humans. Photo attributed to Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH.

Iditarod dogs have a high prevalence of Salmonella compared to other dogs:

“These results show a surprisingly high prevalence of Salmonella in Alaskan sled dogs compared to the prevalence reported in other dogs.”

- Cantor, Glenn H.; Nelson, Stuart; Vanek, Jerome A.; Evermann, James F.; Eriks, Inge S.; Basaraba, Randall J. and Besser, Thomas E. “Salmonella shedding in racing sled dogs.” Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation : Official Publication of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, Inc. 1997 (October).

Salmonella shedding by dogs is a possible source of Salmonella infection in humans: 

“The high prevalence of Salmonella reported here may have significant public health implications.” 

- Cantor, Glenn H.; Nelson, Stuart; Vanek, Jerome A.; Evermann, James F.; Eriks, Inge S.; Basaraba, Randall J. and Besser, Thomas E. “Salmonella shedding in racing sled dogs”. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation : Official Publication of the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians, Inc. 1997 (October).

“Veterinarians and public health officials have recognized shedding salmonellae by dogs as a possible source of Salmonella infection for dog owners and their communities.” 

- Finley, Rita; Ribble, Carl; Aramini; Vandemeer, Meredith; Popa, Maria; Litman, Marcus and Reid-Smith, Richard. “The risk of salmonellae shedding by dogs fed Salmonella-contaminated commercial raw food diets.” Canadian Veterinary Journal. 2007 January.

Tourists who visit Iditarod kennels may face significant public health risks:

“The study ["Salmonella shedding in racing sled dogs"] shows that while living in musher kennels, the majority of dogs carry the Salmonella organism, substantially more than in dogs in many other parts of the world. Some Iditarod mushers give tourists kennel tours (one cruise line gives a kennel tour as part of its tour package). As a result, tourists who visit Iditarod dog kennels may be subjecting themselves to significant public health risks and cruise lines that offer these tours could be culpable.”

- Veterinarian Nedim C Buyukmihci, V.M.D., Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis
-  Email to Sled Dog Action Coalition on February 25, 2013

Dogs sick from Iditarod spread virus to entire kennel

“…symptoms that ranged from diarrhea, some vomiting and fatigue.”

“[Kelly] Maixner said maybe the worst part of the flu bug came when he returned home to Big Lake.

He said the virus spread throughout his entire kennel — 60 dogs in all. ‘You can image what my yard looks like,’ he said.”

- Brian Gehring, Bismarck Tribune, March 20, 2013

Are Iditarod dogs dying from salmon poisoning disease?

- Iditarod dogs are given tons of wild Alaskan salmon to eat:

“Main Image Caption: Yukon Quest winner Allan Moore and his wife, Iditarod top musher Aliy Zirkle, run a kennel in Two Rivers that’s reliant on wild Alaska salmon — by the tons — to keep the dogs performance ready.”

“Many veterans of the famed Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race say wild Alaska salmon is an important part of their racing team’s diet. They prize it for its nutritional value, the enthusiasm of the dogs for devouring it, and most important, for warmer days on the trail, for its high water content.”

- Margaret Bauman, Alaska Dispatch, March 10, 2013

- What is salmon poisoning disease?

Mushers smoke salmon for the sled dogs to eat. But smoking the salmon does not prevent dogs from getting salmon poisoning disease. Photo attributed to chiavatti on flickr

Mushers smoke salmon for the sled dogs to eat. But smoking the salmon does not prevent dogs from getting salmon poisoning disease. Photo attributed to chiavatti on flickr

“Salmon poisoning disease is a potentially fatal condition seen in dogs who have ingested certain types of raw fish found in the Pacific Northwest from San Francisco to the coast of Alaska.”

- Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, website article, July 2013

- What types of fish may be infected?

“Salmon (salmonid fish) and other anadromous fish (fish that swim upstream to breed) can be infected with a parasite called Nanophyetus salmincola.”

- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, website article, July, 2013

- Is salmon poisoning disease deadly for dogs?

“If untreated, death usually occurs within fourteen days of eating the infected fish. Ninety percent of dogs showing symptoms die if they are not treated.”

- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, website article, July, 2013

- Salmon poisoning disease is contagious:

“Although salmon poisoning is not highly contagious, aerosol and contact transmission between dogs can occur and [the] infected dog should be isolated.”

- School of Veterinary Medicine Louisiana State University, website article, July, 2013

- Salmon poisoning disease cannot always be prevented:

- – Cooking and deep-freezing salmon for at least 2 weeks prevents salmon poisoning disease:

“Don’t feed raw fish to your dog. Cook fish thoroughly or deep-freeze it for a minimum of 2 weeks to destroy the parasite before feeding it to your dog.”

- Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, website article, July, 2013

“Home freezers may not be cold enough to kill the parasites.”

- Statement from the Seafood Information Center
- Les Palmer, Peninsula Clarion, December 2, 2011

- – Smoking the salmon does not prevent salmon poisoning disease:

“Cooking destroys the infective agent but the agent can survive freezing and smoking.”

- School of Veterinary Medicine Louisiana State University, website article, July, 2013

Risky and painful removal of dew claws

Mushers removing dew claws is risky and painful for dogs:

“Removing dew claws from dogs should not be done except when medically necessary. These structures, especially on the front legs, serve a purpose with respect to scratching. If removal is deemed beneficial to the individual dog, this should be done by a licensed veterinarian using aseptic technique to minimize the risk of infection. Anesthesia must be used because the procedure would be very painful otherwise. The site should be sutured like any other skin incision in order to facilitate healing.

- Nedim C. Buyukmihci, V.M.D., Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis

Right front paw of dog showing A) claw, B) digital pads, C) metacarpal pad, D) dew claw, E) carpal pad. A dog's pads act as a cushion for the load-bearing limbs of the animal. In the Iditarod, paws become bloodied, cracked, cut, torn, blistered and swollen. Damaged paws are often extremely painful. Photo attributed to Amos T. Fairchild on Wikimedia.

Right front paw of dog showing A) claw, B) digital pads, C) metacarpal pad,
D) dew claw, E) carpal pad.
A dog’s pads act as a cushion for the load-bearing limbs of the animal. In the Iditarod, paws become bloodied, cracked, cut, torn, blistered and swollen. Damaged paws are often extremely painful. Photo attributed to Amos T. Fairchild on Wikimedia.

Musher’s remove dew claws of newborn sled dog puppies:

“The screeching, the squealing, the crying— each a done-me-wrong declaration—are the worst. Yet, despite knowing the worst would be encountered, Rebecca agreed to clip the dew claws of five newborn pups for another musher this morning. With tools of the clipping variety, Rebecca arrived and set to the task. Most long distant mushers remove the dew claws between three to five days after the pup is born.”

- Justin and Rebecca Savidis, Snow Hook Kennel website, 2012

“Anyway, back to work…Mallory removed the dew claws from Tulli’s puppies today”

- Ed Stielstral Nature’s Kennel website, 2010

“I use a large toenail clipper and just cut ‘em off. Then you will see a little soft bone in there. It’s really just a little nub. You have to get it out of there, or else it will grow back in one form or another.”

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