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A total of 350 dogs were pulled out of the Iditarod race this year—likely because of exhaustion, illness, or injury. One of them, Blonde, later died from aspiration pneumonia—he probably choked to death on his own vomit from being forced to run excessively hard. More than 150 dogs have been killed since the Iditarod started, not counting those who died during the off-season while chained up or who were killed simply because they didn't make the cut. But a handful of companies—including Alaskan Brewing Company, ExxonMobil, Northern Air Cargo, and Providence Alaska Medical Center—continue to sponsor the cruel race.
In 2017, after five dogs died in less than one week as a result of the race, a whistleblower came forward with photos that reveal apparently dying puppies and injured, sick dogs at a kennel owned by Dallas Seavey, the four-time Iditarod champion. According to the whistleblower, operators at the Willow, Alaska, kennel allowed severely injured and ailing dogs to suffer—sometimes fatally—without veterinary care.
This followed a veteran musher's revelation that she believes that some trainers—including those at Seavey's kennels—have killed "hundreds on top of hundreds or more dogs" because they were deemed slow or otherwise unfit for races. She wrote, "Sadly, this has been going on in the family 'dynasty' for decades."
The Iditarod's nearly 1,000-mile course requires dogs to run about 100 miles a day for around 10 days, with very little rest. They're subjected to biting winds, blinding snowstorms, and subzero temperatures. Their feet may become bruised, bloodied, cut by ice, and just plain worn out because of the vast distances that they're forced to cover. Many pull muscles, incur stress fractures, or are afflicted with diarrhea, dehydration, intestinal viruses, pneumonia, or bleeding stomach ulcers. Some have frozen to death, and others have been strangled by towlines, trampled by moose, or hit by snowmobiles or sleds. Up to half of the dogs who start the race don't finish.
A growing list of companies—including Costco, Maxwell House, Nestlé, Pizza Hut, Rite Aid, Safeway, and State Farm—will no longer sponsor this death race, and several others, including Beacon and Golden Corral are no longer listed on the Iditarod's sponsorship page, following public outrage at their support of this year's race.
Urge Alaskan Brewing Company, ExxonMobil, Northern Air Cargo, and Providence Alaska Medical Center to end their sponsorship of this abusive race.