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
In San Francisco, that might be happening — dog owners have mobilized to play a role in the upcoming mayoral election.
Whether it ends up being a decisive role or not, signs are it’s already making the much-needed and often overlooked point that, while dogs can’t vote, their owners can and do.
And, by virtue of that, this point as well, with apologies to Woody Guthrie: This land is your land, this land is my land, but it’s also dogs’ land. So give them access to some of it.
Dog PAC, a recently formed political action committee in San Francisco, held a forum over the weekend attended by seven of 16 mayoral hopefuls. It has since endorsed a candidate in the upcoming election — John Avalos.
At the forum, candidates for mayor in the Nov. 8 election were asked about the cost of dog licenses, dog waste, pet-friendly rental housing and about what has emerged as the biggest doggie issue — the federal government’s proposal to ban off-leash dogs in much of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The National Park Service is considering mandating leashes in some open spaces and fencing off some popular dog-walking areas to protect native plant and animal species.
With an estimated 100,000 dog owners in the city — with San Francisco being one of several cities in which dogs now outnumber children — dog-owning voters, some pundits are saying, could have a major impact in the November election, and beyond.
In a way, they already are, with some candidates making it a point to publicize their stands on dog issues.
“Making San Francisco a family friendly city means recognizing the multitude of ways in which we define families,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera says on his campaign website. “And in the city of St. Francis, that includes dogs and companion animals.”
Candidate Joanna Rees held her own “Bark in the Park” forum several weeks ago, according to USA Today.
“Dogs are an important part of many families and neighborhoods across our community,” said Rees. “Open lines of communication between City Hall and pet owners … are the foundation of good policy.”
“Dogs are as much an issue as children … There are a lot [of] parent-teachers associations, we’re just like them, but only for the dogs,” said Dog Pac president Bruce Wolfe.
“All different people and all different industries have lobbyists and political action committees looking out for them,” said dog owner Justin Kleisley. “I think it’s good for dogs.”
We agree, and we’d like to see a lot more local dog PACS — from California to the New York island.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 5th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ban, candidates, dog pac, dogs, election, endorsement, forum, golden gate national recreation area, issues, john avalos, mayor, mayoral, national park service, numbers, off-leash, political action committee, politics, power, race, san francisco, vote
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
Here’s an interesting role reversal. Snausages, the dog snack, sponsored what it describes as the first man sled race earlier this month — one that let the humans pull the dogs for a change.
Four teams, each representing a pet related charity, competed in the March 2 race in Anchorage.
The Snausages Man Sled Race was no Iditarod;the human teams only had to cover 75 yards. The winning team received a $5,000 donation to their charity. The second, third and fourth teams each raised $1,000.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 8th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alaska, anchorage, animals, charity, dog sled, dogs, fundraiser, funny, humans, man sled, man sled race, mushers, pets, pull, pulling sleds, race, role reversal, sled, snausages, video
More than 3,000 people poured into Raynham Park over the weekend for the final day of live greyhound racing at the 69-year-old park, its last day in Massachusetts and, possibly, its last day in all of New England.
The end of greyhound racing in in Massachusetts is the result of a public referendum — 56 percent of voters favored banning the so-called sport — and part of a national trend driven by a mix of animal-rights concerns and declining track attendance, according to the Boston Globe.
Raynham Park staged its final race Saturday night.
Live dog racing has also ceased in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and, temporarily at least, Rhode Island. It continues at 23 tracks in seven states, 13 of them in Florida, according to the anti-dog racing organization GREY2K USA, which formed in 2001. At that time there were 49 tracks in 15 states.
“I just thank Massachusetts voters for giving greyhounds a second chance,’’ Christine A. Dorchak, president of GREY2K USA. “We have finally reached this wonderful day.’’
Many of the dogs, maintained by a network of kennels, will move on to race in other states, but several hundred will be looking for new homes. Raynham is working with GREY2K and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Animal Medical Center to aid their adoption.
“People who voted to end dog racing should step forward now and take a dog home,’’ Dorchak said. “This is the happy ending we all worked for, and these dogs make wonderful pets.’’
For the first six months of 2010, the track will remain open for simulcasting, where patrons bet on horse and dog races from across the country shown live on closed-circuit televisions.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 28th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animal rights, animal welfare, betting, closings, closures, dog, dog racing, end, final, gambling, grey2kusa, greyhound, greyhounds, last, massachusetts, race, racing, raynham park, track
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