Dog deaths

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Death statistics

From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: At least 143 dogs have died in the Iditarod. There is no official count of dog deaths available for the race’s early years. There are no records kept of how how many dogs die in training or after the race each year.

Noteworthy–

No human has ever died in the Iditarod:

“We have never lost a human in this race. Never.”

- Chas. St. Charles, Iditarod’s public relations director
- Discovery News Video, youtube. com , March 14, 2008

This is a snow hook. Jerry Riley was accused of killing his sled dog with a snow hook during the Iditarod.

This is a snow hook. In 1990, a musher was reported to have killed his sled dog with a snow hook during the Iditarod.

Covering up dog deaths

Letter from B. John Shipe to Stan Hooley, the Iditarod’s Executive Director:

[Stan Hooley is still the Iditarod's Executive Director.]

Dear Stan:

“…I am very disturbed and disappointed with the Iditarod’s recent policy regarding the notification of dog deaths during the race and the subsequent handling of this very sensitive issue. The Iditarod’s decision to not notify anyone of a dog death unless specifically asked demonstrates an utter lack of confidence in your sponsors, members and supporters. This approach is intellectually dishonest at best. Allowing any constituency to arrive at an erroneous conclusion by deliberately withholding information is a lie any way you slice it. The recent attempts to justify this poor decision and pass blame onto other parties such as the media did nothing more than aggravate the situation and further undermine the organization’s credibility. The Iditarod blew this one in a major way and needs look no further to assess responsibility and accountability.”

- B. John Shipe, Executive Vice President, National Bank of Alaska, March 27, 1995

Dog death kept secret:

“The first dog to perish in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race this year arrived dead at the ghost town of Iditarod in a sled bag March 10 but went unreported until Saturday [March 25].

Iditarod officials said if anyone had asked directly, they would have been told of the death of the second dog, but they had no responsibility to volunteer the information.

‘I guess’ said chief race veterinarian Karin Schmidt, ‘there was kind of a feeling that it’s not going to hurt us if the whole world doesn’t know.’

An anonymous caller tipped the Daily News on Friday.

On March 18, the death of Japanese musher Keizo Funatzu’s dog Payday was widely reported as the first in this year’s race, an account never corrected by Iditarod officials. That dog perished in the Bering Sea coast storm that almost killed Funatsu.

But seven days earlier, Robert Somers’ dog had died on a warm, sunny day on the trail to Iditarod. A preliminary necropsy completed several days later ruled out a heart attack as the cause, but neither the death nor the results of the necropsy were publicly disclosed.

‘Nobody told us that it was two (deaths),’ Associated Press Alaska bureau chief Dean Fosdick said Saturday. ‘One (has died) that we were aware of.’

The death went unreported, Iditarod executive director Stan Hooley said, because Iditarod officials adopted a new policy on dog deaths this year: Don’t tell unless specifically asked.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 26, 1995

Iditarod shouldn’t be trusted:

“Apparently, Iditarod officials now have a don’t ask, don’t tell policy, though they didn’t tell us. Which is another way of saying we can’t really trust the Iditarod to level with us about what’s going on along the 1,100 miles of trail between Anchorage and Nome.

In retrospect, Funatsu’s dog death was also only revealed publicly because officials were asked specifically about the incident. It has to make you wonder if anything else went on. There’s a lot of open space out there where no one’s around to see what mushers or race officials are doing.”

- Lew Freedman, Anchorage Daily News, March 27, 1995

Iditarod lied to Associated Press and Anchorage Daily News:

“The officials agreed that if someone asked them specifically – Have any dogs dies? – they would tell the truth, Schmidt said.

‘Everyone was told, if the press asks you about a death dog, you answer the question honestly,’ she said. ‘We’re not covering anything up.’

But when the question was asked it wasn’t answered honestly, said Allen Baker, a reporter with The Associated Press who covered the race. Baker said he asked Schmidt for a report on dog injuries. That was on March 14 in Nome – the day the winner, Doug Swingley, crossed the finish first, and four days after Somer’s dog died.

I asked her if there had been any serious injuries to report,’ Baker said Monday. ‘She said, ‘Nope, just a little flu….’”

“A Daily News reporter who covered the race asked vets and race officials about dog deaths routinely, but none were reported.”

- Karin Schmidt was the chief Iditarod veterinarian
- Peter S. Goodman, Anchorage Daily News, March 28, 1995

Reported dog deaths during the Iditarod

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

Iditarod claims Dorado died while being asphyxiated by snow:

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

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

- Associated Press, March 16, 2013

– Eight dogs buried by snow but only Dorado died:

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

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

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

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

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

Two dogs freeze to death on Dr. Lou Packer’s team:

“He [Dr. Lou Packer] said, ‘the wind was (so strong it) was picking up pieces of ice and throwing them.’

Packer assessed distances, recalculated and decided he and the dogs had a better chance of making the woods ahead than the woods behind, so he turned the team around again. That’s when he noticed one of his dogs — Grasshopper — really struggling. He unhooked the dog from the gangline and put it in the sled and started forward again.

‘The sled just kept falling over and he looked really bad, and then he died,’ Packer said. ‘I sat there and held him. Horrible.’

There was, however, nothing to do but keep going or everyone was going to die. Packer pressed on. Then Dizzy started to falter. ‘I felt his shoulder for hydration, and ice crystals in the skin is what I felt. I think those two guys probably froze to death in the high winds,’ Packer said. ‘I didn’t think it possible.’

‘Then Dizzy, he died. It was horrible.’

Both of the dogs had been wearing coats to protect them, and one of the dogs was a thick-coated husky of old, not one of the thin-coated animals that have become common as mushers contend with warm winters. Necropsies conducted by veterinary pathologists have found no obvious causes for the deaths, but hypothermia has not been ruled out.”

- Dr. Lou Packer is a physician.
- Kevin Klott and Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 17, 2009

Jeff Holt’s dog Victor dies in 2009 Iditarod:

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

It happened between the Rainy Pass and Rohn checkpoints.

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

- KTUU-TV, KTUU.COM, March 10, 2009

[No cause of death was ever given.]

Warren Palfrey’s dog Maynard dies after leaving Safety checkpoint:

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

- Iditarod website, March 20, 2009

- – Maynard had fluid in his lungs:

“Omen and Maynard, the two dogs that died late this week in the Iditarod, had fluid in their lungs, race marshal Mark Nordman reported Saturday.”

- Anchorage Daily News staff and wire reports, March 22, 2009

- – Warren Palfrey stayed at Safety checkpoint for four minutes:

Palfrey arrived at Safety on 3/19/2009 at 18:54:00 with 14 dogs. He left Safety on 3/19/2009 at 18:58:00 with 14 dogs.

- Iditarod website, March 20, 2009

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: Nome is 22 miles away from the Safety checkpoint where veterinarians were supposed to have examined Maynard. Veterinarians couldn't have given Palfrey's 14 dogs physical examinations in four minutes.]

Rick Larson’s dog Omen dies after leaving Elim checkpoint:

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

- Iditarod website, March 20, 2009

[From the Sled Dog Action Coalition: According to the Iditarod website, Larson was at the Elim checkpoint for 6 hours and 37 minutes. Why didn't the veterinarians notice that Omen was sick?]

- – Omen had fluid in his lungs:

“Omen and Maynard, the two dogs that died late this week in the Iditarod, had fluid in their lungs, race marshal Mark Nordman reported Saturday.”

- Anchorage Daily News staff and wire reports, March 22, 2009

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

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

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

“Earlier today (at approximately 12 noon AKDT) Iditarod Race officials sent a plane from Nome to Shaktoolik to pick up scratched musher Alan Peck’s dog team. On the flight back to Nome the aircraft encountered significant turbulence.

By the time the pilot was able to land in Golovin, it was discovered that one of the dogs (Cirque, a 2 year-old female) was deceased.”

- Iditarod Advisory, March 23, 2009

- – Necropsy showed no cause of Cirque’s death:

“Cirque, a 2-year-old female member of Alan Peck’s team, died Monday during a flight from Shaktoolik to Nome. A necropsy showed no apparent cause of death, race officials said.”

- Anchorage Daily News, March 24, 2009

[No cause of death was ever given.]

Ed Iten’s dog Cargo dies after two hours at Elim checkpoint:

“A 4-year-old male named ‘Cargo’ died at 5:00 pm on Tuesday March 11, 2008. Cargo was part of the team of Kotzebue Alaska musher, Ed Iten (Bib #32). He passed away between Elim and White Mountain.

A necropsy will be conducted by a board certified pathologist to make every attempt to determine the cause of death.”

- Iditarod website advisory, March 12, 2008

[Veterinarians are supposed to be at the checkpoints examining and caring for the dogs.]

[According to the Iditarod's website, Ed Iten arrived at the Elim checkpoint at 13:45:00 and left at 15:56:00.]

[The Iditarod has never said what caused Cargo's death.]

John Stetson’s dog Zaster dies of aspiration pneumonia:

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

- Iditarod website advisory, March 8, 2008

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

- Iditarod website advisory, March 8, 2008

Ramy Brooks’ dog Kate dies – no cause given:

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

- Iditarod Advisories, Iditarod website, March 14, 2007

Did Brooks beat or kick Kate before she died?

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

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

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

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

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

Diana Haecker, Nome Nugget, March 22, 2007

Matt Hayashida’s dog Thong dies of acute pneumonia:

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

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

- Iditarod Advisories, Iditarod website, March 14, 2007

Karen Ramstead’s dog Snickers dies after seven hours at checkpoint:

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

- Iditarod Advisory, Iditarod website, March 12, 2007

[Veterinarians are supposed to be at the checkpoints examining and caring for the dogs.]

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

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

- – Snickers died from acute hemorrhage due to a gastric ulcer:

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

- Iditarod Advisory, Iditarod website, March 14, 2006

Ron Cortte’s dog Jack dies after being examined by veterinarians:

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

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

[No cause of death was given in the advisory, and the Iditarod has never said what caused Jack's death.]

Dr. Jim Lanier’s dog Cupid dies from ulcers:

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

- Iditarod Advisory, Iditarod website, March 12, 2006

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

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

David Sawatzky’s dog Bear dies:

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

- Iditarod Advisory, Iditarod website, March 11, 2006

- [No cause of death was given in the advisory, and the Iditarod has never said what caused Bear's death.]

Noah Burmeister’s dog Yellowknife dies of acute pneumonia:

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

- Iditarod Advisory, Iditarod website, March 9, 2006

- Veterinarians at checkpoint thought Yellowknife was healthy:

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

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

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

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

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

Iditarod sled dog drowns in open water on the Bering Sea ice.

Iditarod sled dog drowns in open water on the Bering Sea ice.

Michael Salvisberg’s dog Tyson drowns:

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

“Unfortunately, Tyson encountered open water and drowned.”

- Iditarod advisory, Iditarod website, 2005

The story of Doug Swingley’s two-year old dog Nellie

- – Nellie diagnosed with acute pneumonia:

“Nellie was dropped in Elim on Tuesday, March 15 at a little after 8 a.m. and was transported to Nome early Wednesday afternoon for further treatment related to acute pneumonia. She was transported yesterday evening from Nome to Anchorage for follow up care. Nellie died unexpectedly at approximately 5 a.m. this morning.”

- Iditarod advisory, Thursday, March 17, 2005, Iditarod website

[According to Iditarod rules, dropped dogs who are flown to Anchorage go to the Hiland Mountain/Meadow Creek correctional centers in Eagle River.]

- – Nellie also had a double intussusception:

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

- Iditarod website, 2005

Read what the Merck Veterinary Manual says about intussusception. Did the vets ignore Nellie’s symptoms? When Nellie got to the prison was she examined by a vet?

Pathophysiology: Intussusception tends to occur when one segment of the intestine is hypermotile. It may also occur with mass lesions (eg, tumors, granulomas, or scars) that become fixed and tend to get thrust into an adjacent lumen of intestine. The most common area for this to occur is the ileocecocolic junction, where the smaller segment of ileum may slide into the larger lumen of the colon.

Distention with gas and fluid occurs proximal to the obstruction. Strangulation or incarceration of bowel occurs with entrapment of intestinal loops in hernias or mesentery. Venous return is impaired although arterial supply remains intact, leading to venous congestion, anoxia, and, necrosis. Loss of blood into the intestinal lumen and peritoneal cavity and the subsequent emigration of bacteria and toxins from the devitalized tissue ensues. The most common toxin-producing bacteria are Escherichia coli and clostridia.

Grossly, wall edema and hemorrhage and mucosal sloughing are apparent within 1-3 hr. After 4 hr, the affected segment of intestine is turgid, and whole blood collects within the lumen. At 8-2 hr, the affected gut appears black, distended, and elongated. Gross necrosis is evident by 20 hr.

Clinical Findings: Clinical signs of small-intestinal obstruction may include lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, abdominal distention, fever or subnormal body temperature, dehydration, and shock. Gaseous bowel distention occurs within the initial 12-35 hr after obstruction and is followed by the loss of fluid into the intestinal lumen. Without treatment, death due to hypovolemia ensues within 3-4 days.

Upper or duodenal obstruction tends to present as frequent vomiting. In general, the closer the obstruction to the pylorus, the more severe the vomiting. Obstruction of the lower small intestine (eg, distal jejunum and ileum) is infrequently associated with vomiting. Lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, and ultimate starvation in untreated dogs lead to death within >3 wk.

Intussusception may result in luminal obstruction, mucosal congestion, or infarction, depending on the length of the intussusception and the size of the intestinal loops involved. Clinical signs vary and may include vomiting, abdominal pain, and scant bloody diarrhea. In more chronic cases of intussusception, diarrhea with or without blood is seen. Intussusception is more common in young dogs (< 6-8 mo old).”

- The Merck Veterinary Manual, website, 2005

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

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

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

- Iditarod advisory, March 17, 2005, Iditarod website

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

Paul Gebhardt’s dog Rita bleeds internally from ulcers and dies:

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

Veterinarians say they are baffled.

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

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

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

- Iditarod website, 2005

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

Jonrowe’s dog Mark dies from surgery to repair his ulcer:

“But the dog [Mark] was in bad shape. He was dehydrated and hypothermic. His gums were white, indicating anemia and possible shock, [Lannie] Hamilton said.”

“A few minutes after the vets administered the IV, Mark vomited three liters of blood. Hamilton said that was an indication the dog likely had a bleeding stomach ulcer.”

- Lannie Hamilton is a veterinarian in Wasilla, AK.
- Mark was one of Jonrowe’s dogs.
- Paula Dobbyn, Anchorage Daily News, March 13, 2002

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

- Iditarod Race Advisory, Iditarod website, March 15, 2002

Jonrowe ignores signs of dog’s fatal stomach ulcer:

Andrea Floyd-Wilson: “I’m pulling this now off Margery’s site which is Sled Dog Action Coalition. This is a reference from a veterinarian who was talking about Mark, a dog owned by DeeDee Jonrowe. Have I pronounced that correctly, Margery?”

Margery Glickman: “Yes.”

Andrea Floyd-Wilson: “And, it says ‘But, the dog, Mark, was in bad shape. He was dehydrated and hypothermic. His gums were white, indicating anemia and possible shock, the vet said. A few minutes after the vets administered the IV, Mark vomited three liters of blood. Hamilton said this was an indication the dog likely had a bleeding stomach ulcer’. Was this something that would have just cropped up all of a sudden or had this dog been suffering with this for quite a time?”

Dr. Paula Kislak: “Perforations don’t occur acutely. They occur over days to weeks to months. At times, the actual rupture may occur acutely but signs should have been evident– lack of interest in food, more vomiting than normal, discomfort in the abdominal area. There would be signs detectable before the actual rupture.”

- On February 23, 2003, Andrea Floyd-Wilson, the host of All About Animals Radio Show, interviewed Margery Glickman, Director of the Sled Dog Action Coalition, and Paula Kislak, DVM, President of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights.

- High incidence of ulcers in Iditarod dogs caused by NSAIDs:

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

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

- High incidence of ulcers in Iditarod dogs caused by stress:

Andrea Floyd-Wilson: What are they thinking is the cause that these dogs are getting, and it really seems like a very high number of them do get ulcers?

Dr. Paula Kislak: That’s correct. And it’s almost universally known to be as a result of the amount of stress that they endure and the medication they’re given. Just like people under extreme stress develop ulcers. This is the exact same etiology or cause in these dogs as well.

- On February 23, 2003, Andrea Floyd-Wilson, the host of All About Animals Radio Show, interviewed Margery Glickman, Director of the Sled Dog Action Coalition, and Paula Kislak, DVM, President of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights.

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

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

- Iditarod website, March 10, 2001

Backen’s dog dies from blood loss associated with ulcers:

Preliminary findings of a necropsy indicate the 7-year-old male [Takk] died of blood loss associated with gastric ulcers, according to race officials.

- Mary Pemberton, Associated Press, March 16, 2004

Two dead dogs have ulcers, leading to aspiration pneumonia in one:

“The two other dead dogs were suffering from intestinal ulcers, Drs. Randall Basaraba and Derek Mosier reported.”

“Unknown to Pattaroni, or any of the veterinarians at the checkpoints along the trail, the dog had developed a bleeding ulcer. The ulcer caused it to cough up bits of food and stomach lining. This bacteria-laden material, in turn, was inhaled by the dog and ended up in its lungs, causing what doctors call ”aspiration pneumonia” — a deadly lung infection.”

- Five dogs died in the 1997 Iditarod
- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, April 19, 1997

X-ray dog spine. Garo died racing in the Iditarod from injury to his spine.

X-ray dog spine. Garo died racing in the Iditarod from injury to his spine.

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

Jim Oehlschlaeger’s dog Goro died in the 2002 Iditarod. He was a 5 year old male.

“The preliminary report released Monday night said the dog suffered a spinal injury in the neck area as the result of a tangle in the gangline.

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

- Anchorage Daily News, March 12, 2002

Lance Mackey’s dog chokes to death on vomit:

“Lance Mackey lost a dog [named Wolf] that was found to have regurgitated food and choked on it.”

- Joel Gay and Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 15, 2004

Dogs die from vitamin E deficiencies:

“Three of the five dogs that died running the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race last month suffered from vitamin E deficiencies that probably contributed to their deaths, according to veterinary pathologists from Kansas State University.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, April 19, 1997

Sick dog gets no vet care after leaving checkpoint and dies:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snowmachiners kill dogs:

In spite of snowmachiners killing dogs and harassing mushers, the Iditarod Trail Committee does not want to regulate where snowmachiners go:

“The chance for disaster is out there,” said Rick Koch, president of the Iditarod Trail Committee, “and I think we’ve seen that this year.”

“I [Rick Koch] definitely wouldn’t ever want to see any regulations saying this is where you can go with a snowmachine and this is where you can go with a dog team, because we all want to go to the same places.”

“Koch said the Iditarod has a similar view.”

- Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News, March 7, 2001

– Jennifer Freking’s dog Lorne dies after being hit by snowmachine:

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

- Iditarod website advisory, March 10, 2008

– Two of Rollin Westrum’s dogs killed by snowmachiner:

“More violent were the deaths of two dogs and the injuries to two others in Rollin Westrum’s team. Westrum was nearing White Mountain, about 85 miles from the finish line, when his team was illuminated in the glaring headlight of a snowmachine. ‘It came head-on,’ the musher told reporters later. ‘It hit the dogs and then glanced off to one side and went right by.’”

- O’Donoghue, Brian Patrick. My Lead Dog was a Lesbian, New York: Vintage Books, 1996
- O’Donoghue was a reporter with the Fairbanks News-Miner

– Bob Bright’s dog killed by snowmachiner:

”’I was cruising along beside a low ridge,” said [Bob] Bright, ‘when all of a sudden a guy on a snowmobile came sailing over it and plowed right through the middle of my team.’ One of his dogs was killed and Bright, who had been on the trail for more than two weeks, dropped out of the race.”

- Alex Ward, The New York Times, February 24, 1985

With repeated kicks meant to kill, an Iditarod musher kicks a sled dog to death with his bunny boots as the dog screams in agony. Photo attributed to Alaska Jack on Wikipedia

With repeated kicks meant to kill, an Iditarod musher kicks a sled dog to death with his bunny boots as the dog screams in agony. Photo attributed to Alaska Jack on Wikipedia

Musher kicks dog to death:

“He (the musher) faced me now, had worked around the team so that he was facing in my direction, but I do not think that he could see me in his fury. I was quite close- twenty, thirty feet- close enough to see that his eyes were red with blood and anger and he could not see past it, past the dogs in front of him.

Then he did it. With great deliberation he selected one of the dogs near his feet, a small brown dog with a white ruff of fur around his neck and a thick, dense coat, and he kicked it.

He did not kick it to get it up. He was wearing bunny boots- large, heavy, rigidly insulated boots that weigh three to four pounds each, boots that easily become weapons. He kicked with one of these boots and he did not kick simply to make the dog rise and run.

‘Your son of a bitch,’ he hissed, ‘you dirty son of a bitch. I’ll teach you not to duck….’

And all the time he was kicking the dog. Not with the imprecision of anger, the kicks, not kicks to match his rage but aimed, clinical, vicious kicks. Kicks meant to hurt, to hurt deeply, to cause serious injury. Kicks meant to kill.

He kicked the dog in the head and it screamed in pain and again in the head and then carefully, aimed carefully and with great force, in the side just to the rear of the rib cage. The dog’s screams had gone on all this time but with the last kick- the blow must have almost literally exploded the dog’s liver- the dog fell back and grew still and it was all over….”

- Paulsen, Gary. Winterdance, New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994

Two dogs on Dr. Terry Adkins’s team die of exposure:

“Two dogs in [Terry] Adkins’s team died of exposure…”

- Terry Adkins is a veterinarian.
- O’Donoghue, Brian Patrick. My Lead Dog was a Lesbian, New York: Vintage Books, 1996

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

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

Jason Barron’s dog dies in tangled lines:

“Bones, a 4-year-old male in [Jason] Barron’s dog team, died in the gorge as Barron was steering his dogs out of the Alaska Range and into the rolling flatlands.

The dog died after Barron slipped on the ice of Dalzell Creek and was dragged about 100 yards by his team. By the time Barron regained his feet his 14 dogs were tangled in their traces and Bones was down.”

“Iditarod veterinarian Al Townsend conducted a necropsy on Barron’s dog in Rohn but said the results were inconclusive, the Iditarod Trail Committee said.”

- Tim Murray, Anchorage Daily News, March 10, 1993

Dogs die 150 miles from the starting line:

– Claire Philip’s dog Peete dies, no cause given:

“A little more than a day after it began, the 1993 Iditarod has claimed its first causality.

A dog [Peete] in the team of musher Claire Philip died along the trail between Knik and Skwentna about 150 miles from the starting line, race officials said Sunday night.

Iditarod Trail Committee race coordinator Joanne Potts said a preliminary autopsy was performed on the female dog by head veterinarian Jim Leach in Skwentna, but the results were inconclusive.”

- Daily News staff and wire reports, Anchorage Daily News, March 8, 1993

– Raymie Redington’s dog dies of heart failure:

“Last years race [1992] claimed one dog, which died in the same stretch of trail [between Knik and Skwentna, about 150 miles from the starting line]. That dog, driven by Raymie Redington, died of heart failure on the way into Skwentna. Redington was the first musher to reach Skwentna last year, where he won $25,000 as winner of the [Chrysler] Dodge Dash to Skwentna.”

- Daily News Staff and wire reports, Anchorage Daily News, March 8, 1993

Frank Teasley’s dog dies, no cause given:

“One of musher Frank Teasley’s dogs died while approaching the White Mountain checkpoint, 77 miles from the finish line…”

- Associated Press, March 20, 1993

Ray Dronenburg’s dog dies from fluid accumulation in the lungs:

“[Diana] Dronenburg’s dog died after it was dropped from her team at White Mountain. The preliminary necropsy found pulmonary edema as the likely cause of death.”

- Associated Press, March 20, 1993

Beverly Masek’s dog dies after being out in a storm for at least 18 hours:

“Only a few mushers, including Beverly Masek and John Schandelmeier, attempted to brave the storm, which created a wind-chill of at least 60 below. But Masek and Schandelmeier were forced to hunker down for 16 hours in their sled bag until trailbreakers on snowmachines help them to a shelter.”

- Lew Freedman, Anchorage Daily News, March 20, 1993

“Officials said one of musher Bev Masek’s dogs died while being take to shelter Friday. Snowmachiners found Masek and John Schandelmeier pinned in their sleds Thursday afternoon and took them to shelter, but both mushers’ dog teams were left alone for two hours until Schandelmeier and a snowmachiner returned to retrieve them.”

- Associated Press, March 20, 1993

Keizo Funatzu’s dog Payday dies in storm:

“On March 18, the death of Japanese musher Keizo Funatzu’s dog Payday was widely reported as the first in this year’s race, an account never corrected by Iditarod officials. That dog perished in the Bering Sea coast storm that almost killed Funatsu.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 26, 1995

“It remained unclear what killed Funatsu’s dog….”

- Peter S. Goodman, Anchorage Daily News, March 28, 1995

Joe Redington, Sr.’s dog Pancho dies from a snapped neck:

“Only a little later, just before Joe [Redington] arrived at Rohn, Pancho, a four-year old dog back in the pack snapped his neck.”

- Cellura, Dominique. Travelers of the Cold: Sled Dogs of the Far North, Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Books, 1990

Bud Smyth’s dog dies, three inch tear in liver:

“Bud Smyth pulled into Farewell carrying covered up in his sled, a dog that had died. Like many of the other mushers, Smyth had had his problems before the race. While he was training on the Big Lake Road near Wasilla, a car doing maybe seventy miles an hour had hit the front end of his team, dragging the dogs more that 150 yards down the road.”

“The dog he brought into Farewell was on of those hit by the car.”

“The dog had been treated for pneumonia at Rohn, and other dogs in the team also appeared to have pneumonia, leading [Phil] Meyer at first to blame the disease for the dog’s death.”

“Meyer worked over the frozen dog, finding blood in the abdominal cavity. ‘When you see blood, you look for organs that bleed- spleen, liver, kidney,’ he said. On the liver he found a tear about three inches long.”

- Jones, Tim. The Last Great Race: The Iditarod, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

Robert Somers’ dog dies and cause of death isn’t disclosed:

“But seven days earlier, Robert Somers’ dog had died on a warm, sunny day on the trail to Iditarod. A preliminary necropsy completed several days later ruled out a heart attack as the cause, but neither the death nor the results of the necropsy were publicly disclosed.”

- Craig Medred, Anchorage Daily News, March 26, 1995

Martin Buser’s dog Stafford dies from ruptured blood vessel:

“One of his [Martin Buser] main lead dogs, Stafford, had died hours earlier at Rainy Pass.”

“A blood vessel ruptured beneath her skin and by the time [Martin] Buser reached the Rainy Pass checkpoint, Stafford had nearly bled to death internally. He never noticed a sudden change in the way she ran.”

- Scott Heiberger, Anchorage Daily News, March 8, 1989

Varona Thompson’s dog keels over dead:

“Varona [Thompson] ran my team of thirteen young dogs in the Iditarod behind her old leader. At Susitna Station, her leader died – just keeled over – and she went the rest of the way with my young dogs.”

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

Alan Cheshire’s dog is strangled to death:

“Alan Cheshire lost at dog when its harness caught on a branch, strangling it as the rest of the team kept going.”

- Cellura, Dominique. Travelers of the Cold: Sled Dogs of the Far North, Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Books, 1990

Wes McIntyre kicks dog to death:

“In 1985, race officials disqualified musher Wes McIntyre after he kicked a dog that nipped him and the animal died.”

-Doug O’Harra and Natalie Phillips, Anchorage Daily News, February 5, 2006

Musher shoots and kills injured dog:

“Another musher was disqualified early in the race for shooting an injured dog. The animal had broken its leg in a fight with another team, was in great pain, and the driver thought it impossible to carry the wounded beast on to the next checkpoint where a veterinarian might be available.”

- Colin Nickerson, Boston Globe, March 15, 1983

Two of John Suter’s poodles die:

“Chugiak musher John Suter had tried to mush poodles in the race — one was filmed by TV crews frozen to the ice in McGrath in 1989…, another died of hypothermia in a 1991 blizzard.”

- Doug O’Harra and Natalie Phillips, Anchorage Daily News, February 5, 2006

Moose killed sled dogs during the Iditarod. Photo attributed to Travis S.on flickr

Moose killed sled dogs during the Iditarod. Photo attributed to Travis S.on flickr

Moose kills and injures Susan Butcher’s dogs:

“‘I didn’t see the moose until it was in the team,’” Butcher later said. “‘I don’t think the dogs even saw it. It came stomping through until it was about halfway into the team. It killed one dog quickly, plus it got the dogs all tangled and twisted, so I couldn’t get the team past it.”

“For 20 nightmarish minutes it stayed among the dogs, lashing out with deadly hooves that tore flesh, ruptured organs, and cracked bones.” “The toll on Butcher’s team was heavy. Two dogs died and six others were seriously hurt, suffering either from leg damage or internal injuries.”

- Sherwonit, Bill. Iditarod, Seattle: Alaska Northwest Books, 1991

Two dog kill each other at Rainy Pass checkpoint:

“Two dogs killed each other in a fight at Rainy Pass.”

- Cellura, Dominique. Travelers of the Cold: Sled Dogs of the Far North, Anchorage: Alaska Northwest Books, 1990

15 dogs die in 1974 Iditarod, mostly from pneumonia related illnesses:

“Despite safety precautions, at least 15 of the 500 dogs that made up the average 10-to 13-dog team, died in the race….”

“Most of the dog deaths in the race were caused by pneumonia related illnesses, according to the five volunteer veterinarians following the teams by air shuttles to their night camps.”

- Special to The New York Times, March 25, 1974

Other causes of death:

Causes of death have also included strangulation in towlines, internal hemorrhaging after being gouged by a sled, liver injury, heart failure, and pneumonia. “Sudden death” and “external myopathy,” a fatal condition in which a dog’s muscles and organs deteriorate during extreme or prolonged exercise, have also occurred. The 1976 Iditarod winner, Jerry Riley, was accused of striking his dog with a snow hook (a large, sharp and heavy metal claw). In 1996, one of Rick Swenson’s dogs died while he mushed his team through waist-deep water and ice.

Dogs love to run but not run to their death:

“Rodman died during the 1999 race from complications associate with acute pneumonia. Rodman’s death was tragic but not unusual. In fact, 114 dogs, including Rodman have died during the Iditarod since the race started 26 years ago. Sure, dogs love to run but not to run to their death.”

-United Animal Nations, Spring, 1999

Dogs are bred and trained to be subservient and some may willingly run themselves to death. At least one musher has acknowledged this limited mental capacity:

“I’ve heard people say that a dog’s intellectual and emotional development is about that of a three-year-old human child. I’d have to agree. They’re very bright and curious, but they’re also very dependent on the musher.”

-1998 Iditarod musher Kris Swanguarin

“…Driving a team of 16 huskies in the Iditarod sled dog race ‘is like trying to take a group of 3-year-olds across Alaska. You have to watch them every minute.”

- Eric Sharp, Detroit Free Press, March 5, 1998

Musher thinks not entering her dog who died in the Iditarod would have been cruel:

“You know, it would have been cruel and inhumane if I had not taken him on this race.”

- Linda Joy discussing her dog Trim after his death in the Iditarod
- Doug O’Harra, Anchorage Daily News, March 20, 1998

Near-death incidents

Near-death incidents with Scott Janssen’s and Bruce Linton’s dogs:

“There were two miracles.

The first happened to Scott Janssen, the owner of an Anchorage funeral home who calls himself the ‘Mushing Mortician.’ Janssen and the team were making their way down a steep section of the Dalzell Gorge when his 9-year-old husky, Marshall, suddenly dropped in his tracks, by all appearances, dead. ‘I know what death looks like, and he was gone. Nobody home,’ Janssen told the Daily News. But by quickly administering mouth-to-snout CPR and rubbing the dog’s chest vigorously, Janssen said, the animal suddenly revived.”

“Then there was the dog that held back Bruce Linton’s runaway sled team, after Linton was knocked off the sled. As Jill Burke of the Alaska Dispatch relates the story, Linton found the dog well up ahead holding back the rest of the team with a single line — wrapped around its neck. The dog was lying motionless in the snow, but somehow was revived.”

- Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times, March 14, 2012

Near-death incident with Libby Riddles’ dog Minnow:

“Every one of the dogs was tangled somehow. The lines were so tight I couldn’t even get them loose. If people hadn’t been around to help, I might have lost a dog. Minnow was caught in a nasty knot and almost choked. Her expression was pitiful. All the other dogs were straining forward, making her situation worse.”

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

Dog death immediately before Iditarod starts

Terry Adkins’ dog killed when dog box flys off truck right before Iditarod starts:

“The fickleness of Alaska weather had turned against mushers and dogs and now they felt the first bite of the winds that would plague this race. Terry Adkins already had felt that bite when the dog box flew off his truck and his lead dog was killed.”

- Terry Adkins is a veterinarian.
- Jones, Tim. The Last Great Race: The Iditarod, Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books, 1988

Mushers killed and ate dogs

“To the musher, a sled dog is a workmate and sometimes a meal. Snowmobiles may be faster, even more reliable – but when you’re trapped in a blizzard or lost on the taiga, try eating a fan belt. More than one stranded Alaskan has survived such an ordeal by converting loyal Sashka into stringy stew.”

- Colin Nickerson, Boston Globe, February 5, 1984

Susan Butcher: Four of her dogs died in Iditarod

Dog dies of internal hemorrhaging:

“On the second day, as Butcher approached a checkpoint, one of her dogs dropped dead, one of only two to die during the race. An autopsy showed it died of internal hemorrhaging caused by liver lesions.”

- David Foster, Associated Press, March 19, 1987

Dog dies of heart attack:

“Butcher, a four-time Iditarod champion, lost a 6-year-old female named H.C. between Rohn and Nikolai on Tuesday. The dog, itself an Iditarod veteran, died while pulling in harness with the rest of the team, Butcher told reporters and race officials.”

- Steve Rinehart, Anchorage Daily News, March 12, 1994

“Six dogs died in the 1993 Iditarod and the Humane Society made good on its threat to oppose the 1,000-mile event after the 1994 race, when four-time winner Susan Butcher lost her best dog to sudden heart failure.”

- Associated Press, July 18, 1994

“[Karin] Schmidt said the initial necropsy revealed rhabdomyolysis, which is the breakdown of muscles….”

Frontiersmans staff and wire reports, March 18, 1994

Two dogs die from moose attack:

“The only time she didn’t finish at all was in 1985, when her dogs were attacked by a moose.” “The moose ‘ran into the team, kicking and stomping, and with probably eight seconds, she had killed two dogs and injured 13 others,’ Butcher said.”

- Jon Thurber, Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2006

Causes of dog deaths kept secret

Cause of Oakley’s death in 2005 never revealed:

“Oakey a four-year old female from the team of Montana musher Jason Barron, died at approximately 7 p.m.”

- Iditarod Advisory, Thursday, March 17, 2005, Iditarod website

The Iditarod never issued an advisory saying how Oakley died.
- Sled Dog Action Coalition

Cause of Bear’s death in 2006 never given:

“Bear, a 3 year old make from the team of Healy musher David Sawatzky, died earlier today between Cripple and Ruby. A gross necropsy has been initiated.”

- Iditarod Advisory, Saturday, March 11, 2006, Iditarod website

The Iditarod never issued an advisory saying how Bear died.
- Sled Dog Action Coalition

Cause of Jack’s death in 2006 kept secret:

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

- Iditarod Advisory, March 18, 2006, Iditarod website

The Iditarod never issued an advisory saying how Jack died.
- Sled Dog Action Coalition

 The Iditarod has never also never said how the following dogs died:

Claire Philip’s dog Peete
Frank Teasley’s dog
Bev Masek’s dog
Jon Little’s dog Carhartt
Ramy Brooks’ dog Kate
Ed Iten’s dog Cargo
Alan Peck’s dog Cirque
Keizo Funatsu’s dog Payday
Robert Somers’ dog

Dog deaths after the race is over

Dogs may die from hours to weeks after the race is over as a result of extreme exertion or from injuries:

Dr. Paula Kislak: “119 [dog deaths] is my understanding for only in the more recent years of the race. It only accounts for the deaths during the actual time of the race. It doesn’t account for the deaths that occur either before the race, during training, and after the race, anywhere from hours to days to weeks later, as a result of the extreme exertion or injuries.”

Andrea Floyd-Wilson: “Now are these sickly dogs to begin with? Is that why they’re dying? Or are they not in good shape?”

Dr. Paula Kislak: “No. All these dogs are very athletic but they’re being asked to perform extreme and prolonged exercise that is not natural to their organ and muscle functioning. And, they are also getting injured; they’re getting strangled by the towlines. There are cases of internal injuries after being gouged by a sled. There can be heart failure and lung failure in the form of stress pneumonia. It is common for there to be such a build of lactic acid and other chemicals from muscle degradation as a result of the extreme exercise that it creates toxicity to the liver and the kidneys, the results of which may not cause death for days or weeks after the race.”

- Andrea Floyd-Wilson is the host of the All About Animals Radio Show. On February 23, 2003, she interviewed Paula Kislak, DVM, President of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights.

Physiological damage to the dogs may appear during or after the race:

Andrea Flyod-Wilson: “Let’s take a look at a dog that is days into the trail and perhaps not in good shape to begin with, and now being asked to pull a heavier load [because dropped dogs cannot be replaced]. What kind of physiological changes will we be looking at in their bodies?”

Dr. Paula Kislak: “There are a number of them. There would be hemorrhaging in the lungs and there would be a breakdown of the muscle tissue. When that muscle tissue breaks down and gets into the blood stream, it creates a very severe toxicity to the liver and the kidneys which can fail either suddenly or slowly. And, because of the stress on the heart, there can be sudden heart failure or there can be irreparable damage to the heart muscle, that doesn’t manifest itself until after the end of the race like many of other deteriorating conditions that occur from the extreme prolonged exertion.”

- Andrea Floyd-Wilson is the host of the All About Animals Radio Show. On February 23, 2003, she interviewed Paula Kislak, DVM, President of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights.

Aspiration pneumonia, severe inflammatory reactions and resulting death may occur after the race is over:

“The inherently stressful conditions of endurance races like the Iditarod predispose dogs to vomit and have diarrhea while racing.”

“Dogs that vomit while racing are at high risk of aspirating (inhaling) the vomitus. The implications of the acidic and bacterial stomach contents entering the normally sterile respiratory tract are grave. Aspiration pneumonia and severe inflammatory reactions can be anticipated with only a small number of dogs showing symptoms acutely (within 24 hours). Most morbidity (disease) and mortality (death) would be expected to occur days to weeks later which, coincidentally, is when scrutiny has lapsed.”

- Dr. Paula Kislak, President of the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, September 7, 2004 in an email to the Sled Dog Action Coalition

Competitive 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

Read how unwanted dogs are killed.

Veterinarians and supporters say deaths are normal or inevitable

Iditarod dog deaths do not surprise vets:

“Veterinarians contend it is normal to expect some deaths among hundred of dogs in an event as long as the Iditarod.”

- Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 1997

Iditarod dog deaths do not surprise race supporters:

“Supporters have long argued that the sheer number of dogs — more than 1,100 started the race this year — make a death statistically inevitable over the two-week competition.”

- Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, March 20, 2010

Mushers won't have to stop for 24 hours when their dog dies

Iditarod Trail Committee Board of Directors rejects requiring mushers to stop for 24 hours when their dog dies:

“This year, the Rules Committee recommended three major changes:

1. A musher that experiences a dog death for any reason would be stopped for 24 hours. 2. Each team must stop for a minimum of 15 minutes at each of the four checkpoints after Unalakleet (Shaktoolik, Koyuk, Elim and Golovin).”

” Recommendations 1 and 2 were rejected.”

- John Proffitt, Alaska Public Radio Network, June 1, 2007