Photo: REUTERS/Nathaniel Wilder
The Iditarod is a 1,000-mile dog sled race through the Alaskan wilderness that has been happening for 40 years.This week we ran a slideshow of heartwarming photos from the race — pictures of happy-looking dogs rolling in the snow, kissing their owners, etc.
This afternoon PETA took the time to respond via email. In the email, PETA says that the race is inherently cruel, and results in the deaths for innocent dogs.
“Mushers are chasing money and glory, but in the 40 years since the first Iditarod race was held, not one dog has ever signed up to participate,” they argue.
Humans sign up for the race in an attempt to endure the cruel elements, dogs cannot sign up for the race.
Here’s the entire email:
Mushers are chasing money and glory, but in the 40 years since the first Iditarod race was held, not one dog has ever signed up to participate.
Already this year, musher Martin Buser pushed his team of 16 dogs to run for 20 hours with barely an hour of rest. Another dog, Mae, went missing along the trail on Wednesday afternoon and has yet to be found.
Last year, after musher Bruce Linton was knocked off his sled, the dogs continued down the trail on their own. After catching up to them, Linton discovered that one was lying stretched out on the ground and motionless with gang line wrapped around his neck. Almost miraculously, the animal hadn’t choked to death.
Another dog, a 9-year-old named Marshall, was pulling a sled operated by Scott Janssen, then suddenly collapsed and stopped breathing. Only a special resuscitation technique saved Marshall’s life.
In 2011, a dog also collapsed with no discernible pulse and had to be revived by a veterinarian. Many dogs,including many of the ones used by musher Lance Mackey, have also developed kennel cough, which can lead to pneumonia.
Common injuries and conditions afflicting dogs forced to run the Iditarod include everything from sore wrists and frostbitten lips to bleeding paws and hypothermia to gastric ulcers and being run to death.
At least 20 dogs used in the 1,000-plus–mile race have died just since 2005, including 3-year-old Kate, who was allegedly beaten and kicked by her musher because she sat down and refused to get up; Thong, a 3-year-old male, who apparently died of acute pneumonia; and Snickers, a 6-year-old female, who died from an acute hemorrhage caused by a gastric ulcer. On average, more than half the dogs who start the race don’t make it across the finish line, and 81 per cent of those who do finish have lung damage, according to a report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Finally, please keep in mind that much of the abuse and neglect of dogs used in the Iditarod takes place out of sight. Dogs who don’t make the grade are usually killed—sometimes by bludgeoning. Many who survive the cull spend their lives in cramped, substandard kennels that are rarely—or never—inspected by any regulatory agency. Kennel operators often keep dogs constantly tethered on short ropes or chains.
“The proof is in 40 years of suffering and death: The only way to make the Iditarod safe for dogs is to cancel it permanently,” says PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch. “While mushers are consumed with chasing sponsorship money and the cash prize, it’s the dogs who pay the ultimate price.”
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