AR-News: (NC) Iditarod -- letter to the editor -- Anchorage Press
MEATSTINKS at aol.com
MEATSTINKS at aol.com
Mon Mar 8 07:43:19 EST 2004
Save the dogs
Imagine your dog as part of a 16-dog sled team, running for nine to 14 days
in a 1,150-mile race. Add to the mix sub-zero temperatures, arctic winds,
snowstorms and ice. This is the Iditarod. Such brutal treatment should be
illegal, but the Iditarod is Alaska's biggest “sporting” event. The 120 recorded dog
deaths over the years are discounted as a fraction of the animals that race.
Behind the scenes, the situation is even worse. Many dogs are bred, but few
are considered racing material. The unfit are culled - shot in the head or
beaten to death. Dogs are kept outdoors in sub-zero temperatures, chained to dog
houses. Alaskan Tom Classen has stated, “These dogs are beaten into submission
the same way elephants are trained for a circus. The mushers will deny it...
They are all lying.”
We are told that the dogs love to run. You would too if you were continuously
tethered on a short chain. You would also be inclined to run if you were
whipped (no rules against it). Should the dogs become too tired or sick to run,
they are sometimes dragged along, sometimes flipping on their backs.
On average, 54 percent of the dogs who start the race do not finish. Many
dogs have bloody feet, lung damage, pulled muscles and stress fractures. Some
dogs die because their muscles and organs deteriorate from the extreme exercise.
Others die because of strangulation in tow lines, internal hemorrhaging, liver
injury, heart failure and pneumonia. The dogs work so hard that they can't
stop gasping for air, choking on their own vomit. Deaths occurring after the
race aren't included in the official statistics.
Mushers are required to rest their dogs for one 24-hour period and two
eight-hour periods, but the race can last two weeks. One musher had eight dogs left
and 401 miles to the finish line, but took only one nine-minute rest stop.
Veterinarians say that in a grueling race, injury and death are expected.
Regular doses of painkillers are given to fight inflammation and pain, causing
Please write to the sponsors. Major corporations have dropped out after
hearing about the cruelty.
Terri David, vice president
Carolina Animal Action
Asheville, North Carolina
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