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UPDATE: A whistleblower has come forward with disturbing photographs and video footage that apparently reveal dying puppies and injured, sick dogs at a kennel reportedly owned by Dallas Seavey, the four-time Iditarod champion who was recently implicated in a dog-doping scandal. According to the whistleblower, operators at the Willow, Alaska, kennel allowed severely injured and ailing dogs to suffer—sometimes fatally—without veterinary care. The whistleblower reported finding a litter of seven newborn puppies who had died within the past month without having received any veterinary intervention. Many other dogs reportedly suffered from bloody diarrhea and vomiting and had sustained puncture and bite wounds and torn ears. The whistleblower reported that handlers allegedly picked up dogs by their throats and threw them to "punish" them for fighting or not obeying commands.
This follows a veteran musher's revelation that she believed that some trainers—including those at Seavey's kennels—have killed "hundreds on top of hundreds or more dogs" because they were deemed too slow or otherwise unfit for races. She wrote, "Sadly, this has been going on in the family 'dynasty' for decades."
PETA has urged Alaskan authorities to investigate all allegations.
Five dogs died in less than one week at this year's Iditarod. One got away from his handler and was hit by a car, another died of hyperthermia on a plane, and three others died on the trail. More than 150 dogs have been killed in the race's history, not counting others who have died during the rest of the year, often while chained outdoors.
This is how sled dogs were warehoused for 40+ years in the mountains of Colorado.
Dogs in the Iditarod are forced to run nearly 1,000 miles—roughly the distance from Orlando, Florida, to New York City—in under two weeks. On average, they must run 100 miles a day, with only a few brief periods of rest. They're subjected to biting winds, blinding snowstorms, and subzero temperatures. Their feet become bruised, bloodied, cut by ice, and worn out because of the vast distances that they cover. Many pull muscles, incur stress fractures, or are afflicted by diarrhea, dehydration, intestinal viruses, and aspiration pneumonia (caused by inhaling their own vomit). On average, about half the dogs don't finish the race.
Dogs have died in nearly every Iditarod race as the result of a variety of injuries and illnesses, including "sled dog myopathy"—catastrophic muscle breakdown. It's time to stop forcing animals to run to their deaths. Please urge the Iditarod Trail Committee and the mayors of Nome and Anchorage to celebrate Alaskan huskies without causing their suffering and death by replacing them with willing human cyclists, cross-country skiers, or snowmobilers.