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IditaRod Facts

Spanning across Anchorage in south central Alaska and stretching to the Western coast of the Bering Sea, each team of twelve to sixteen huskies and their musher cover a huge distance of 1150 miles in ten to seventeen days. Rick Swenson of Alaska won Iditarod five times and Susan Butcher is the only woman to have won it on four occasions. It is organized by thousands of volunteers who make arrangements for medical equipments supplies, food stocks and veterinarians. The now historic Iditarod begun as a mail supply route from coastal towns like Seward and Knik to interior mining camps. Almost every year one dog dies on IditaRod. However, today dogs are equipped with microchips in order to track them easily. This is truly the toughest race on Earth.

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16 thoughts on “IditaRod Facts

  1. For the dogs, the Iditarod is a bottomless pit of suffering. Six dogs died in the 2009 Iditarod, including two dogs on Dr. Lou Packer’s team who froze to death in the brutally cold winds. What happens to the dogs during the race includes death, paralysis, frostbite (where it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, broken bones, torn muscles and tendons and sprains. At least 142 dogs have died in the race. No one knows how many dogs die after this tortuous ordeal or during training.

    On average, 52 percent of the dogs who start the race do not make it across the finish line. According to a report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, of those who do finish, 81 percent have lung damage. A report published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine said that 61 percent of the dogs who complete the Iditarod have ulcers versus zero percent pre-race.

    Iditarod dog kennels are puppy mills. Mushers breed large numbers of dogs and routinely kill unwanted ones, including puppies. Many dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, including those who have outlived their usefulness, are killed with a shot to the head, dragged, drowned or clubbed to death. “Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don’t pull are dragged to death in harnesses……” wrote former Iditarod dog handler Mike Cranford in an article for Alaska’s Bush Blade Newspaper.

    Dog beatings and whippings are common. During the 2007 Iditarod, eyewitnesses reported that musher Ramy Brooks kicked, punched and beat his dogs with a ski pole and a chain. Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, “Nagging a dog team is cruel and ineffective…A training device such as a whip is not cruel at all but is effective.” “It is a common training device in use among dog mushers…”

    Jon Saraceno wrote in his March 3, 2000 column in USA Today, “He [Colonel Tom Classen] confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their most advantageous racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens.. Or dragging them to their death.”

    During the race, veterinarians do not give the dogs physical exams at every checkpoint. Mushers speed through many checkpoints, so the dogs get the briefest visual checks, if that. Instead of pulling sick dogs from the race, veterinarians frequently give them massive doses of antibiotics to keep them running.

    Most Iditarod dogs are forced to live at the end of a chain when they aren’t hauling people around. It has been reported that dogs who don’t make the main team are never taken off-chain. Chained dogs have been attacked by wolves, bears and other animals. Old and arthritic dogs suffer terrible pain in the blistering cold.

    The Iditarod, with all the evils associated with it, has become a synonym for exploitation. The race imposes torture no dog should be forced to endure.

    Margery Glickman
    Director
    Sled Dog Action Coalition, http://www.helpsleddogs.org

  2. it’s sad that this beautiful dogs are exploated like that for human entertainment…these races should be forbiden.sry for my english, i`m from romania. best regards

  3. The first response, by Margery Glickman, says that 6 dogs died 2009. Over 1,000 dogs are entered into the race and moose attacks are a big problem on the trail and usually end up killing a dog or two and I’m pretty sure that mushers don’t go looking for moose to attack their dogs. Which means that 6 dogs dying does not mean that they died due to the fact that “mushers aren’t taking care of their dogs”.

  4. Bogdan C. wrote: #
    it’s sad that this beautiful dogs are exploated like that for human entertainment…these races should be forbiden.sry for my english, i`m from romania. best regards

    i agree 100% on wat u have said it is per torture

  5. Bogdan C. wrote: #
    it’s sad that this beautiful dogs are exploated like that for human entertainment…these races should be forbiden.sry for my english, i`m from Romania. best regards

    Woman are exploited for human entertainment too a rest my case

  6. Bogdan C. wrote: #
    it’s sad that this beautiful dogs are exploated like that for human entertainment…these races should be forbiden.sry for my english, i`m from romania. best regards

    these dogs were born to run like this, they enjoy running races like this more than anything.

  7. listen I am learning about the iditarod in school and i thought it was torcher too. But then my teacher told me that these dogs that run were born to run! They want to run in the cold day and night! The mushers don’t make the dogs run! I mean as soon as the team starts they dash of because they enjoy running. This is not for human entertainment! This race is for people who love dogs and will care for them day and night! These mushers come out here and run with the dogs to enjoy it with the dogs! I read that even some mushers will get off of their sled and actually go up along side the dogs and run with them! And to run in the most beautifulest places in the world, I might even run the iditarod to just see a part of the world and look at nature and dogs in a different perspective!

  8. Nobody seems to want to talk about what happens to the dogs bellybuttons. Ice forms in their navels during the 10 plus days these dogs are exposed to extreme cold temperatures. Many dogs have died from this or had their bellybutton amputated to prevent further disease.

  9. you anti-iditarod people must be proud PETA members. they are DOGS, not HUMANS. Plus these dogs we created by God to thrive in these conditions and they were born to run like crazy. the handlers do take precautions to try to help the dogs by putting booties on thier feet but you can only do so much.

  10. this is bloody battle for dogs and the humans don’t care. they may have vets and other special equipment but it isn’t anough at least one dog dies every year they neead to be protected. i say no more ididarod and i think it is abuse.

  11. Jason wrote:
    you anti-iditarod people must be proud PETA members. they are DOGS, not HUMANS. Plus these dogs we created by God to thrive in these conditions and they were born to run like crazy. the handlers do take precautions to try to help the dogs by putting booties on thier feet but you can only do so much.

    You are a dumb ass who doesn’t care about animals feelings god did not put them through this its those jackass racers who get these dogs and whip them and force them to run like crazy!!!!

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