Dogs Chained, Suffering, Dying: End the Iditarod

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The Iditarod in Alaska is known as a long-distance dog-sled race, but there’s one big problem: The dogs don’t consent to participating in it. They’re forced to run about 1,000 miles from Anchorage to Nome in dangerous conditions in less than two weeks.

In the 2024 race, three dogs—named Henry, George, and Bog—were forced to run so fast and so hard that their bodies broke down and they collapsed and died on the trail. Even before the race began, five dogs were killed and eight others were injured during training. More than 200 dogs were pulled off the trail due to exhaustion, illness, injury, or other causes, including Faloo, who had to be airlifted for emergency surgery after her musher was more focused on winning than getting her immediate veterinary care.

Dogs deserve fulfilling lives with loving fams—not isolation, cruelty, suffering, and death for the Iditarod. Here are 10 reasons why the race is a deadly nightmare for dogs:

1. Dog deaths are so common that the official rules call some of them an “Unpreventable Hazard.”

Since it kicked off in 1973, the Iditarod has killed more than 150 dogs—five died in 2017 alone. 😭 In the last decade, dogs have died from asphyxiation, heart attacks, freezing, having too much fluid in their lungs, being hit by a vehicle, and acute aspiration pneumonia, caused by inhaling their own vomit.🤢

2. Dogs who don’t die on the trail are left permanently scarred.

Here’s a super-scary stat: According to the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, over 80% of the dogs who finish the Iditarod get persistent lung damage. 😨 A study in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine showed that dogs forced to do endurance racing had a 61% higher rate of stomach erosions or ulcers. Plus, a paper in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that dogs used in sled races suffered from an airway condition similar to “ski asthma” even after four months of rest. 😷

3. There’s no retirement plan.

A dog is chained up at a facility run by Joe Redington Jr., the son of Iditarod founder Joe Redington.

Breeders of dogs used in sledding have straight-up said that “surplus” dogs are killed. 😰 The animals may be killed if they’re not fast or fit enough to compete or if they don’t meet certain standards for looks—like if they have white paw pads. 🤔 Dogs who finish the race but aren’t seen as useful anymore may be shot, drowned, or abandoned to starve.

4. Dogs’ misery doesn’t end with the race.

A PETA eyewitness who worked at two dog kennels owned by ex-Iditarod champs found a ton of neglect and suffering there. Workers didn’t provide dogs with veterinary care for their painful injuries, kept them constantly chained in the bitter cold with only boxes or plastic barrels for “shelter,” and forced them to run even when they were exhausted and dehydrated. 😠

5. Dogs pull mushers’ sleds up to 100 miles per day.

During the Iditarod, dogs are expected to run about 1,000 miles in less than two weeks, and the rules only require 40 hours of rest throughout the entire event. 😫 Dogs aren’t even allowed to take shelter during any part, except to undergo vet exams or treatment.

6. Up to half the dogs who start the Iditarod don’t finish.

Injured, sick, and exhausted dogs are often “dropped” at checkpoints—but by rule, only dogs who start the race can finish. This rule leaves the remaining dogs to pull additional weight. 😒

7. Dogs wouldn’t choose to run in this arctic nightmare.

The #1 reason dogs get “dropped” from the Iditarod is orthopedic (bone, muscle, tendon, and joint) injuries. It’s clear that no dog of any breed can handle this grueling race across ice and through wind, snowstorms, and below-freezing temps. 🥶 Even when they wear booties, many dogs still get bruised, cut, or swollen feet.

8. Thousands of dogs are bred each year for sled racing.

At a kennel run by 2017 Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey,dogs are chained up with only a plastic barrel for shelter.

Only a few hundred dogs raised for the race will make the cut to compete, but many more will be kept tethered and chained for most of their lives—some with only a flimsy plastic crate for shelter. 🥺

9. Many dogs have died at breeding compounds.

This dog lives at a kennel run by 2017 Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey. (© CCI Entertainment)

Some of the dogs bred for sledding have frozen to death, while others have died after eating rocks—which they prob did because of the intense frustration of spending years on a chain. 😢 😢 😢

10. Mushers can “rent” dogs for the race like sporting equipment.

Some of the dogs used in the race are “rented” out by mushers to other mushers, as if they were sporting equipment. This means that a musher with dogs on the trail may barely know them, which can make it harder for the musher to notice issues that could be life-threatening for the dogs. At least two of the dogs who died in the 2024 event belonged to mushers other than the ones who were racing them.

The infamous Seavey family dominates the Iditarod. At least 10% of the dogs forced to run in the 2024 race reportedly came from its cruel kennels. It’s not rare for notorious mushers to use others’ dogs and run them into the ground, like in 2022 when Hugh Neff was forced to quit after the dogs he was using from Jim Lanier’s kennel were found in such poor condition that they couldn’t continue.

How You Can Help These Dogs

You can help countless dogs avoid the Iditarod nightmare—please urge Liberty Media/GCI to stop sponsoring this deadly race. 🙅 Let’s make this the last year the Iditarod takes place! 🙌 🐶 ❤️

Liberty Media
Liberty Media

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