Iditarod officials says changes are planned to help ensure the health and safety of dogs who get dropped from the race and have to wait at checkpoints — sometimes outside — for transportation home.
The changes were prompted by the death of Dorado, a five-year-old dog found dead at a checkpoint in Unalakleet four days after being dropped from the race because of soreness.
A necropsy showed Dorado died of asphyxiation while being buried in the snow.
Organizers of the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race said Wednesday that planned changes include construction of dog shelters at two major checkpoints, and more frequent checks on the animals, according to the Associated Press.
“This type of self-examination is an important part of ITC’s historical commitment to the improvement of the welfare of the canine athletes that annually participate in the Race,” Iditarod Trail Committee officials said in a statement.
Drobny’s husband, Cody Strathe, said this week that the couple asked the Iditarod Trail Committee to develop new protocols for the care of dogs that have been dropped from the race to Nome.
Race officials said they don’t believe Dorado’s death was a result of anyone acting negligently.
More dropped dogs than could be sheltered wound up at the Unalakleet checkpoint because severe weather prevented planes from landing to transport them.
Race volunteers housed more than 100 dogs in a hangar, but up to 30 more were tethered outside.
Unalakleet is one of the two communities where dog boxes will be built for shelter. Officials said they also plan to have more frequent flights to transport dropped dogs from checkpoints.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has asked that animal cruelty charges be filed in connection with Dorado’s death.
Nome District Attorney John Earthman said he was reviewing the letter.
Dorado’s death was the first since the 2009 race, when six dogs died.
PETA says more than 140 dogs have died since the Iditarod began in 1973.
(Top photo: Dogs await the start of the race, by Rachel D’oro / Associated Press; bottom photo, Dorado, from SquidAcres Kennel)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 21st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, announcement, changes, checkpoints, committee, cruelty, death, dog, dogs, dorado, dropped, iditarod, injured, monitoring, musher, mushers, officials, paige drobny, peta, pets, planned, race, sled, smothered, snow, trail, transporation, unalakleet
A necropsy has shown that Dorado, the only canine fatality in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, died from asphyxiation, smothering in a snow bank after being pulled from the race.
Dorado, 5 years old, was found dead last Friday in Unalakleet, an Inupiat Eskimo village and race checkpoint on the Bering Sea coast. He was being cared for there after dropping from the race due to sore muscles, Reuters reported.
His death was the first canine fatality in the race since 2009, officials said.
The dog belonged to the team of rookie musher Paige Drobny, who continued with the rest of her team to Nome and finished in 34th place.
The necropsy determined the cause of death was asphyxiation from being buried in snow in severe wind conditions, race marshal Mark Nordman said.
Dorado had been left at Unalakleet and was set to be flown back to Anchorage, Nordman said. The animals were left outside, with their condition checked at 3 a.m. on Friday, he said.
“Between that time and daylight, drifting snow covered several dogs and Dorado was found to be deceased,” Nordman said.
The fatality broke a safety streak that race supporters had cited as a defense against race critics, and as evidence of the good veterinary care animals receive during the contest.
Animal rights supporters say competitors push the dogs too hard and subject them to dangerous conditions.
“Our stance on the Iditarod has always been that people who care about dogs should not support the race. It’s a cruel spectacle,” said Ashley Byrne, campaign specialist for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Sixty-six mushers and their dog teams began the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which was won this year by Mitch Seavey.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 18th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alaska, animals, asphyxiation, cruelty, death, dog, dogs, dorado, fatality, iditarod, musher, necropsy, paige drobny, peta, pets, race, sled, smothered, snow, unalakleet
A mushing mortician in his second Iditarod brought one of his dogs back to life after the 9-year-old husky collapsed on his way down a steep section of the Dalzell Gorge.
“Boom! Laid right down. It was like a guy my age having a heart attack,” Scott Janssen told the Anchorage Daily News.
“I know what death looks like, and he was gone. Nobody home,” said Janssen who owns a funeral home in Anchorage and bills himself as the “Mushing Mortician.”
Janssen said he rushed to the dog, named Marshall, and administered mouth-to-snout CPR, compressing the husky’s chest and breathing into his nose.
After about five minutes, Janssen said he talked to the dog: “I’m like c’mon dude, please come back.”
“And he did.”
Marshall collapsed late Monday night as the 51-year-old musher navigated a tricky section of trail that follows Rainy Pass as mushers exit the Alaska Range. Marshall, believed to be one of the oldest dogs in the Iditarod this year, has finished about five or six races, and this was to be his last.
Janssen carried Marshall in his sled until the Rohn checkpoint, where veterinarians examined him and administered an IV.
“He was fine this morning,” Janssen said. “He’s still at the checkpoint and they’re flying him back home today.”
Fatalities have been common during the Iditarod’s 40-year history, but no dogs have died in the past two years.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 8th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alaska, animals, cpr, deaths, dog, dogs, husky, iditarod, injuries, marshall, mortician, mouth to snout, mushing, mushing mortician, pets, race, revived, revives, scott janssen, sled, sled dog, trail
Twins Anna and Kristy Berington were born five minutes apart. Yesterday, again just minutes apart, they started off on the 975-mile Iditarod Trail, the first twins ever to compete in the race.
Kristy is a two-time Iditarod finisher; Anna is competing in her first Iditarod.
“Our mom didn’t even know she was having twins until Anna was born,” Kristy, who is five minutes older than her sister, told the Anchorage Daily News. “She never even got an ultrasound and our heartbeats were completely identical.”
While sled dog racing tends to run in families, Iditarod officials say the twins are the first — and the first sisters — to compete in an Iditarod.
The twins are also known to turn a few heads in a sport where — at least in the Iditarod — three of four racers are men.
“A lot of people kind of get the feeling that she’s just a pretty face — that she doesn’t know what she’s doing, that kind of thing,” Anna said of Kristy. “But she’s definitely proven that she is a dog musher.”
Kristy finished 39th in the 2010 and 29th in 2011. She came in ninth in this year’s Yukon Quest, a 1,000-mile race — and won the Veterinarian’s Choice Award for best dog care among the mushers.
The sisters grew up in northern Wisconsin, where they built dog sleds from downhill skis and a milk crate and used their Great Pyrenees and a border collie as their sled dogs, the Daily News reports.
The Beringtons began the race within minutes of each other at the timed start Sunday in Willow. Kristy drew position No. 31; Anna is No. 33.
(Photo: Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alaska, animals, anna, anna and kristy berington, berington, dogs, first, iditarod, kristy, pets, race, racers, sisters, sled dog, sports, start, twins, wisconsin
With the final teams crossing the finish line Saturday night, race officials say not a single dog died in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race — possibly a first in the event’s history, the Anchorage Daily News reports.
“To stand there and watch that last team come in, I’ll tell you, is the highlight of my veterinarian career,” chief race veterinarian Stuart Nelson said after the final musher crossed the finish line.
Last year’s race saw six dogs die — from fluid-filled lungs, hypothermia and, in one case, a rocky airplane ride — prompting People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to demand an investigation of the deaths.
Supporters say the sheer number of dogs — more than 1,100 started the 1,000-mile race this year — make a death inevitable over the two-week competition.
This year, Iditarod organizers increased scrutiny of rookies, calling for veterinarians and race officials to rate potential Iditarod contenders on their ability to care for themselves and their dogs. Four mushers were asked to complete additional races before competing in the main event.
On Saturday, top finishers said relatively good trail conditions, low temperatures and the lack of a major storm this year helped teams complete the race faster and healthier than in 2009, the Daily News said.
After last year’s high death count, the chief vet had appeared “on edge” at a mushers meeting before this year’s race, said musher Hugh Neff, who finished ninth. “He put out the word to all of us that the dogs were going to be checked more thoroughly and that after what happened last year, we needed to be more vigilant.”
Nelson said he can’t remember a year without any deaths since he became involved in the race in 1986. At least twice, there has only been one death: in 1994 and 1996.
The average number of deaths rose from about two a year in the 1990s to roughly three deaths a year as the field of mushers ballooned to 80 or 90 competitors around 2000, Nelson said.
“I think it’s a pretty safe assumption that this is a first,” he said of the zero deaths in 2010.
The achievement isn’t likely to end criticism of the race.
Margery Glickman of Miami, Fla., who founded the Sled Dog Action Coalition in 1999, says officials still aren’t doing enough to protect dogs.
“If it’s true that there have been no dog deaths, I hope that remains the case for however long this race is run and I hope that they make other improvements,” Glickman said Saturday. She says officials ought to require mushers to take mandatory rests at checkpoints and shorten the length of the race overall to reduce not only deaths but injuries and illness.
(Photo: from BBC’s Frozen Planet series)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 22nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2010, alaska, animals, death, deaths, dog, dogs, iditarod, iditarod trail sled dog race, margery glickman, mushers, mushing, news, no deaths, race, safety, sled dog action coalition, sled dogs, sleds, stuart nelson, veterinarian
Alaskan musher Lance Mackey has won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and set an Iditarod record for most consecutive wins.
Mackey, 39, of Fairbanks, completed the 1,049-mile Iditarod race in just under nine days. He was cheered across the finish line in Nome by family and friends, including his father, Dick Mackey, the 1978 Iditarod champion, CNN reported.
“You’ve done something that will never be repeated, son,” the senior Mackey said, hugging his son at the finish line.
Mackey could be heard on the broadcast microphones speaking to his dog team just before reaching the finish line on Nome’s Front Street, “Nice, nice. This is so cool. We’re almost there, guys. You did such a good job.”
Arriving in Nome at 2:59 p.m. local time, Mackey’s official time was 8 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 9 seconds.
Mackey, a throat cancer survivor who says he began racing “at birth,” was inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame in February “for capturing multiple titles in two of the world’s longest sled dog races.”
More than 54 teams remained on the Iditarod trail headed toward Nome, including rookie Jamaican musher Newton Marshall, who was in 48th place. Marshall trained with Mackey this season in preparation for his first Iditarod run.
Fourteen of the original 71 teams that entered this year’s race have scratched en route.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 16th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alaska, consecutive, dick mackey, dog, dogs, fourth, iditarod, lance mackey, musher, mushing, news, nome, race, record, sled, sports, trail, winner, wins
Three-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey may have to mush without marijuana in next year’s race.
Iditarod Trail Committee officials have announced plans to test mushers for drugs and alcohol in March. Officials haven’t decided who will get tested, or when, where and how it will be done. “It might be random. It might be a group of mushers at a specific checkpoint,” said Stan Hooley, executive director of the committee.
Alaska law allows for personal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, provided the use occurs at home. In addition, Mackey, as a throat cancer survivor, has a medical marijuana card that entitles him to use the drug legally for medical purposes.
Mackey admits marijuana has helped him stay awake and focused through the 1,100-mile race, but he insists it doesn’t give him an edge.
“It isn’t the reason I’ve won three years in a row,” Mackey told the Anchorage Daily News. ”I think it’s a little bit ridiculous,” he said of the new policy. ”It is a dog race, not a human race. It doesn’t affect the outcome of the race.”
While Iditarod dogs have long been tested for a lengthy list of prohibited substances, the humans they are pulling — despite the Iditarod having had an informal drug and alcohol policy since 1984 — never have.
Mackey doesn’t blame the Iditarod board for creating the new policy, but he contends he is being targeted by other mushers jealous of his three straight Iditarod titles.
Despite his medical marijuana clearance, Mackey said he will not pursue a therapeutic use exemption; instead, he’ll just abstain for a while.
“I’m going to pee in their little cup,” he said. “And laugh in their face.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 8th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alaska, alcohol, champion, dogs, drug, drugs, edge, exemption, iditarod, lance mackey, law, mackey, marijuana, medical, mush, mushing, policy, prohibited, race, sled dogs, sports, substances, test, tested, testing, tests, therapeutic, throat cancer, trail committee
What do you do with an ever-so-slightly used $100,000 elephant treadmill?
If you’re a zoo in Alaska, you do the same thing you did with your captive elephant – admit it was a mistake and find it a new home.
The Alaska Zoo had the treadmill custom made so that Maggie the elephant — fat, cold and lonely being the only elephant in Alaska — could get some exercise in her otherwise cramped quarters. When the zoo finally came to its senses and shipped Maggie to a sanctuary in northern California, that left them with a contraption that wasn’t in too great demand. Not the sort of thing you can put out at the yard sale. Though the zoo did try selling it on Craigslist.
While the zoo didn’t get paid for the treadmill, they did find a home for it: Iditarod musher Martin Buser has hauled it to his kennel to be used to train his dogs for the 1,150-mile race, the Alaska Dispatch reports.
While he won’t have it reassembled in time to train dogs for the coming race, Buser, a four-time Iditarod winner, expects to use it in the future. Built for an 8,000-pound elephant, it’s 10,000 pounds and 22 feet long, more than big enough to let a whole team of dogs run on at once.
At Buser’s Happy Trails Kennels, he plans to use it to let his dogs run long distances while getting nowhere, invite scientists to use it to learn more about sled dogs, and possibly entertain tourists who want to see a team of dogs run long distances without getting anywhere — like the Iditarod, only without the freezing cold or the breathtaking scenery.
Maggie the elephant left the Alaska Zoo in 2007, after several years of controversy over whether she should ever have been brought there in the first place.
The treadmill was the zoo’s attempt to get Maggie exercising through Alaska’s long winters. It was one of the steps the zoo took to improve her controversial and cramped living conditions. Critics argued she should be in a warmer climate , with more open space, where she could walk outdoors year-round and be with other elephants.
But the zoo decided to try the treadmill experiment first. It didn’t work out, zoo officials admitted. Maggie would have nothing to do with the treadmill – an objection to which we can relate.
At that point, the zoo gave up and loaded Maggie on an Air Force C-17 for a flight to northern California, where, thanks in part to funding from animal activist/game show host Bob Barker, she’s living the rest of her life at ARK 2000, an animal sanctuary in San Andreas operated by the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).
After Maggie left town, Buser called the zoo and inquired about the machine. In exchange for the treadmill, Buser added the zoo to his list of official sponsors.
In addition to drawing tourists, Buser says the treadmill will allow for closer scientific research of his sled dogs. Instruments like oxygen consumption masks and heart rate monitors can yield valuable information, but can’t be used when the dogs are running outside.
Sled dogs cruise at 10 to 12 mph, the Swiss-born Buser said, but he’d like to get the treadmill up to 20 mph so he can put his dogs through some speed workouts. Buser said he probably won’t get his dogs on the treadmill until after the coming Iditarod, which has its ceremonial start in Anchorage on March 6.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 17th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alaska, animal welfare, animals, ark 2000, california, captive, captivity, elephant, happy trails kennels, iditarod, maggie, martin buser, paws, performing animal welfare society, sanctuary, science, sled dogs, tourists, training, treadmill, zoo, zoos
From: Department of Human Control
April 1, 2116
In light of numerous complaints, Rex, director of the city office of Human Control, is reminding canine citizens of local regulations regarding the care and treatment of humans.
1. All humans must be registered and, when in public, must wear the official city tag and be up to date on their shots. While we do not require humans be leashed, owners are expected to be in reasonable control of their humans at all times.
2. Please be sure your humans use the public restroom facilities designated for them, and that they are using them appropriately – especially males of the species. Missing the urinal spreads germs, and is punishable by a 10-biscuit fine. While some members of the council have proposed a 1,000-biscuit fine, we consider that amount exorbitant.
3. Peoplefighting is a felony, whether it is spontaneous or organized, as in the case of what, during the era in which humans ruled the world, was formerly known as war.
4. Constant yelling is not pleasant for anyone, including your neighbors. If your human is unnecessarily loud, please take appropriate steps to modify the behavior. For instance, if your human’s loud behavior is triggered by sporting events, or alcoholic beverage, remove them from his or her environment.
5. While we don’t feel it necessary, as some have contended, to establish segregated areas in our parks for humans, we do ask that you practice common sense and courtesy. Some humans are unexplainedly aggressive. Not everyone likes humans. And some young dogs are frightened by them. Remember, the park belongs to everyone.
6. While humans may in fact be walking two-legged germ factories, they are allowed to enter bars, restaurants and any business establishment that permits them. Guide humans, therapy humans and assistance humans cannot be barred from any establishment or office.
7. As entertaining as they are, humans are not here for our entertainment. Publicly displaying humans, incorporating them into circus acts or holding them up to ridicule is not allowed, unless said human has chosen to be a celebrity. Humans cannot be forced to take part in human racing, or to pull sleds in sporting events of a length of more than 100 miles.
8. If, due to your negligence, your human ends up at the human pound, you will be required to pay a 25-biscuit fee to reclaim him or her and attend a mandatory human training program. Humans will be kept until claimed. In the event a human goes unclaimed, he or she will be put up for adoption.
9. All humans are created equal; discriminating against humans because of their size, shape, sex, age, color, religion, breeding, or how much they drool will not be tolerated.
10. Cruelty to humans is a serious offense, punishable by kennel time. Abusing, neglecting and euthanizing humans is prohibited.
(Inspiration: Hungarian Academy of Sciences study)
(Photo: Mosaic by Jill Beninato, Sitstaysmile.com)
(Photo: Cap from dogsrulegearstore.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek April 1st, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, april fools, canine, cap, dog parks, dog racing, dogfighting, dogs, dogs in charge, dogs rule, dogs rule world, farce, fines, government, human control, humans, iditarod, jill beninato, leash laws, license, mosaic, municipal, ohmidog!, parks, penalties, register, rules, satire, waste
A sixth dog in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race has died — this one on a flight to Nome.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that the dog, a two year-old female on he team of musher Alan Peck, died during a turbulent flight from Shaktoolik to Nome.
The musher had scratched in Shaktoolik, and officials were picking up the dog team Monday. Race spokesman Chas St. George says the airplane encountered significant turbulence during the flight that forced the pilot to land in Golovin, where it was discovered that one of the dogs, name Cirque, had died.
St. George says the dogs were in good condition when loaded onto the plane. A necropsy has been scheduled.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 24th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alan peck, cirque, deaths, died, dog, dogs, flight, iditarod, iditarod trail, musher, nome, race, shaktoolik, six, sixth, sled