The below linked page lists the year 2010 Iditarod sponsors, and promoters as well as individual musher sponsors. We encourage you to send them a letter or email to protest their involvement with this event.
If you are going to boycott a company, please mention it in your letter.
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------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ I D I T A R O D
This year, the 2009 Iditarod started on March 7th. By its end on March 24th, six dogs had died. Below are their stories...
On March 10, a 6-year-old male dog named Victor in the team of Jeff Holt, died suddenly between Rainy Pass and Rohn. Though a gross necropsy was performed, no cause of death could be determined by the board certified veterinary pathologist.
On March 16, Iditarod Race officials deployed an Iditarod Air Force (IAF) aircraft to check on the whereabouts of Iditarod Rookies Lou Packer, Kim Darst and Blake Matray. All three mushers were overdue on their run to Shageluk because of bad weather. Packer was located approximately 22 miles past the Iditarod checkpoint. He signaled that he was in distress when the aircraft flew overhead. Two of Packer's dogs - Dizzy and Grasshopper (both 5 year old males) - had died before Packer was discovered by the pilot. A plane load of dogs were immediately flown out and a second flight later returned to airlift Packer and the remainder of the team. Though gross necropsies were performed on both Dizzy and Grasshopper by a board certified pathologist, in both cases the cause of death could not be determined by visual examination of all organ systems. Packer commented to the newspaper about the deaths of his dogs: 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. As for Dizzy, Packer said, "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." (source: ADN)
On March 20, a five year old male, named Maynard in the team of Warren Palfrey died on the trail between Safety and Nome. The incident occurred about an hour before Palfrey's arrival. The gross necropsy performed on Maynard showed that pulmonary edema was present, which likely developed as the result of a cardiac abnormality. On this same day, an eight year old male, named Omen in the team of Rick Larson also died on the between Elim and White Mountain. Results from the gross necropsy of Omen showed that pulmonary edema was present, which likely developed as the result of a cardiac abnormality. According to the Anchorage Daily News, "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. Necropsies showed that both dogs had pulmonary edema, possibly because cardiac abnormalities prevented their hearts from moving fluid out of their lungs." (source: ADN)
On March 23, a dog on Alan Peck's team died during a flight from Shaktoolik to Nome. The musher had scratched in Shaktoolik, and offic
ials were picking up the dog team Monday. Race spokesman Chas St. George says the airplane encountered significant turbulence during the flight. The pilot was forced to land in Golovin, where it was discovered that one of the dogs, a 2-year-old female name Cirque, had died. Though a gross necropsy was performed on Cirque, no cause of death could be determined.
This year, more dogs have died than in any other recent Iditarod. In Iditarod 2007, five died. A total of six have died on the trail in 2009. (source: Iditarod Press Page) However, this barely compares to the second Iditarod in 1974, where at least 15 of the 500 competing dogs died. (source: The New York Times - 1974, March 25).
An additional note regarding Lou Packer and the treatment of his dogs... The following was posted by an Iditarod musher (Blue on Black Kennels) on the ADN online comments section, and later removed by ADN in an attempt to hide the cruelties which run rampant in this sport...
"Lou Packer is no hero, and he has no business running dogs until he learns to care for them properly. His behavior and the horrible consequences reflect on all mushers and the Iditarod. I wish there was some way to encourage him to retire and find good, caring homes for his dogs. This is not just my opinion; here are some facts.
Fact: One of his qualifiers for Iditarod was the 2008 Knik 200. In this race his dogs quit on him and he had to camp for 24 hours, a result of pushing the dogs beyond their abilities.
Fact: His other Iditarod qualifier was the 2008 Don Bowers 300. In this race he ran the final 40 miles with a severely limping dog. Friends who examined the dogs later found the dog to have a broken leg. Another dog, Dawson, was sent to the vet with torn achilles tendons, which would take a few months to heal. Lou stated that he could not keep a dog that could not work during the summer, and planned to euthanize him unless I would take him.
I asked for 2 weeks to find Dawson a home, and Lou said he had to make the decision THAT AFTERNOON, so of course I took the dog and found him a home.
Both injuries sustained during the Don Bowers race were unnecessary and show Lou's lack of ability to properly care for his dogs. His refusal to take the time to find Dawson, a perfectly healthy dog, a good home show just how much Lou cares for his dogs.
Fact: Lou's tale of what happened on the trail does not make sense. Dogs do not die of hypothermia while in harness. Dogs die of hypothermia when they are not moving but do not have enough energy or calories in their system to stay warm. They die in harness when they are pushed beyond exhaustion.
Fact: The Iditarod pilot, Bruce Moroney, who rescued Lou literally tripped over not one, but two dead dogs, left lying in the trail in separate places where they collapsed. This means that the dogs died in harness, and that Lou abandoned their bodies and continued to push his team onward. This is inexcusable.
Fact: Bruce took most of Lou's team in his airplane, but had to leave Lou and 4 dogs behind. He told Lou to take the dogs down into the shelter of the trees until he returned. A few hours later, after he had dropped the rest of the team in safety, he returned to find the 4 dogs staked out on the exposed ridge, shivering in the wind. Lou was safely down in the trees, but had not bothered to take his teammates with him. That is also inexcusable and could have resulted in further dog deaths.
I ran the Iditarod as a rookie this year and know just what obstacles Lou faced. I am not interested in bashing Lou, but there is no excuse for his callous disregard for his dogs, which has been a pattern for some time now. It is time for Lou to get out of dogs."
Iditarod 2008 started on Saturday, March 1st. Death and injury statistics are listed in the following paragraph. In Iditarod 2007, there were three dog deaths during the race - and one can only imagine how many after it was over. One instance of abuse during the race was even so severe, that a musher was banned (but only for a couple of years). Apparently, the Iditarod Trail Committee and the law enforcement agencies in Alaska don't feel that kicking, punching and striking dogs with a ski pole require a lifetime ban from racing or animal cruelty charges.
In the 2008 Iditarod: One musher (Kim Franklin) was involuntarily eliminated from the race because she lost two of her dogs during the 48 mile run from Rainy Pass to Rohn. She left those two dogs alone in the Alaskan wilderness to fend for themselves while she continued to the next checkpoint, where she was then disqualified for arriving without all of her dogs. The first death this year occurred in the team of John Stetson: a seven-year-old dog named Zaster died on March 8th from aspiration pneumonia.The second death this year occurred in the team of Jennifer Freking: a three-year-old dog named Lorne died after being struck by a snowmobile on March 10th - yet Freking continued the race. The third death this year occurred in the team of Ed Iten: a four-year-old male named Cargo died on March 11, between Elim and White Mountain. The reason for Cargo's death is unknown. 506 dogs were dropped from this year's Iditarod teams due to becoming injured and/or too ill to continue. (source: Iditarod Press Page)
Despite the Iditarod's horrific past and an ever growing death toll, the Discovery Channel decided to air a six hour miniseries covering the 2008 race later that year. Toughest Race On Earth: Iditarod premiered on Tuesday, October 7th. My only hope is that the show allowed more people to see how much these dogs are put through in the race, both mentally and physically. Common sense tells us that one thousand plus miles without adequate rest and care is not in the best interest of the dogs. Unfortunately, many people in this day and age lack both common sense and compassion. How else could people actually visit Iditarod kennels where over two hundred dogs are kept chained to uninsulated houses and provided with the bare minimum in order to survive? I have personally visited countless kennels of this type. I leave utterly appalled, and cannot grasp how anyone could visit such a place without a deep feeling of utter disgust and sadness.
...Coverage of Older, Historically Archived Iditarods...
In the 1974 Iditarod - At least 15 of 500 dogs died. This was out of 10-13 dog teams. Most deaths due to pneumonia-related illnesses, according to the five volunteer veterinarians.
Special to The New York Times. (1974, March 25). 1,049-Mile Race Punishes Men and Dogs :1,049-Mile Alaskan Race Punishes Men and Dogs. New York Times (1857-Current file),p. 1. Retrieved April 8, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 79384455).
To the Editor:
What the connection is, I really can't understand, but the Atlantic Richfield Company believes there is a connection. It offered $50,000 in prize money to the Iditarod Trail Committee for the third annual running of the 1,049-mile sled dog race between Anchorage and Nome. The dog race is unspeakably cruel, and last year dogs died of exhaustion and cold, running under the most adverse conditions, while others lost eyes, ears, legs, etc. Some of the dogs were run until they dropped dead from exhaustion and were left on the trail. The Iditarod Race is senseless and a prime example of animal exploitation by warped, pleasure- and profit-seeking individuals.
William Flintrop Monsey, NY March 20, 1975
to the Editor. (1975, April 3). New York Times (1857-Current file),36. Retrieved April 8, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 461144062).
...in 1985 alone, 12 dogs died of heart failure, exhaustion, or hypothermia...
1985 - Two dog deaths by moose, one by musher killing dog after it bit him.
Woman, for First Time, Wins Alaska Sled Race. (1985,March 21). New York Times (1857-Current file),A1. Retrieved April 8, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 118822662).
1982 pre-race meeting: As many as 30 dogs died in the early years.
Sledding Race Is a Highlight For Alaskans. (1982, December 26). New York Times (1857-Current File),25. Retrieved April 8, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 118582688).
Smith and Anderson still had a lead of several hours, but their teams were drooping, dispirited. The dogs had come too far, too fast. By Koyuk, Smith was down to seven animals, and not a one of them seemed keen on rising when he hollered "Hike!"
"I said Hike! " repeated Cowboy, voice cracking.
The team refused to stir.
He lurched out in front of the sled and began pulling the recalcitrant creatures to their feet one by one. But by the time he reached the lead dog, the others had flopped on their sides again - forcing Smith to repeat the whole process.
Anderson's huskies were in scarcely better shape. What little progress his team made was in fits and false starts. The dogs would stagger a few feet and then squat on their haunches, staring vacantly into the middle distance.
"C'mon, dogs," he pleaded. "Oh, dogs. . . ."
He would howl and stamp, and after a bit the huskies would spring to their feet with a false show of enthusiasm, trot a few paces, and then drop. Anderson would stalk to the head of the team, grab the lead dog by the harness, and half-drag the team up the trail. "Damn," he muttered as he walked. "Damn, damn, damn."
And so it was that at 11:10 p.m., Bering time, Rick Mackey passed under the finish arch exactly 12 days, 14 hours, 10 minutes, and 44 seconds after leaving Anchorage.
He had started with 15 eager Alaskan huskies; he finished with seven limping dogs.
For his victory, Mackey received a $24,000 check. His dogs received beds of straw strewn upon the trampled snow down by Nome's frozen harbor. There they lay, whimpering, licking their paws. Too tired to eat; too tired, even, to sleep.
COLIN NICKERSON.(1984, February 5). BAPTISM BY SNOW; ALASKA'S ANNUAL IDITAROD RACE, THE LONGEST SLED-DOG COMPETITION IN; THE WORLD, IS A NUMBING JOURNEY FOR BOTH RIVERS AND DOGS. Boston Globe (pre-1997 Fulltext),p. 1. Retrieved April 8, 2009, from Boston Globe database. Document ID: 662692441).
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ A N T I - C H A I N I N G L E G I S L A T I O N
Most mushers chain their dogs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. These dogs are only taken off their chains to be strapped into harness - and even that can be as few as once or twice per week (or not at all, in the warmer months). Puppies are put on chains as soon as possible, sometimes at only four or five months of age. This barbaric, neglectful practice is a large part of the reason why sled dogs are so difficult to rehabilitate and place into new homes.
To find out what states and municipalities are currently working on anti-chaining legislation, or to find those who have already passed such laws, please visit Unchain Your Dog .org to view an up-to-date list.