Sled Dogs Aren’t Worth Protecting

Four of Iditarod Champion Dallas Seavey’s dogs received a drug test and failed at the end of last year’s Iditarod. Since this came to light nearly a month ago, the young musher has blamed his competitors (, then animal rights activists (, and is now attempting to overthrow the Iditarod Trail Committee ( If he were anyone other than Dallas Seavey – the Iditarod’s media-savvy golden goose, during a time when the world is waking up to the fact that Iditarod sled dogs are routinely neglected, abused, and killed – his actions would be termed a temper tantrum.

Not only has the State of Alaska and the Iditarod Trail Committee chosen to not investigate Dallas for his alleged possession of a controlled substance ( in the midst of Alaska’s opioid epidemic (, but they also now appear to be sweeping sick, dying, injured and neglected sled dogs belonging to the Iditarod’s boy-wonder, under the rug.

All of this – the doping scandal; the 150+ dead dogs that litter the Iditarod race history (five of which died last March); the hundreds of thousands of sled dogs who are victim of mass chain warehousing and factory farming across the State of Alaska, and who are shot or abandoned when they are no longer of use – is possible because sled dogs are specifically exempt from Alaska’s Animal Cruelty Statues. 

The 30th Alaska State Legislature (2017-2018) states that:pet” means a vertebrate living creature maintained for companionship or pleasure, but does not include dogs primarily owned for participation in a generally accepted mushing or pulling contest or practice or animals primarily owned for participation in rodeos or stock contests. (

In fact, per Sec. 11.61.140 Cruelty to Animals, Subsection (e) states: “This section does not apply to generally accepted dog mushing or pulling contests or practices or rodeos or stock contests.” (

In the Mat-Su Borough, they go one step further to degrade sled dog welfare by classifying the dogs as livestock: “Livestock” includes, but is not limited to, domestic animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, and other animals normally considered farm animals, whether kept for profit or not, as well as sled dogs housed at a licensed mushing facility, or sled dogs owned by the owner or licensee of a licensed mushing facility, whether kept for profit or not.”  (

The Borough also exempts sled dogs from nuisance animal noise ordinances: “A) It is unlawful for any animal owner to allow an animal to annoy any person. Violation of this provision is an infraction. (B) A person who holds a current mushing facility license as per MSB 24.07, as well as persons who are handlers for, employees of, or agents of a specific licensed mushing facility, are exempt from subsection (A) of this section in regard to sled dogs housed at or originating from that mushing facility. (

Noise ordinances are put in place not only to keep peace with the neighbors, but because a chronically loud animal is usually an animal in distress, and this law gives Peace Officers, Animal Control Officers, and Police the right to investigate when they can hear the problem, but the animal is hidden from view.

A KTUU report states that “Officer Nick Uphus closed the investigation after finding no evidence of any violation–no evidence of failure to provide humane animal care and no evidence of cruelty to animals.” (

While Iditarod fanatics – many of which appear to suffer from some form of histrionic or narcissistic personality disorder – are rejoicing and hashtagging #IStandWithDallas all over social media like a bunch of giddy high school girls, and Dallas himself is desperately trying to get #DogsMatter to trend, KTUU made it very clear – Officer Uphus found no evidence of violation. This is because sled dogs are exempted from everything he had the power to investigate. 

That is the problem, and the root of industrial mushing, and sled dog welfare issues in Alaska. Legally, sled dogs don’t matter. Officer Uphus didn’t state that he found no dead dogs; no chained dogs; no injured dogs; no sick dogs; no neurotic dogs. He simply stated that he found no violations. That’s because it is impossible to be in violation when you are excluded. 

The case is far from closed, and the Borough’s response was even anticipated – as six sick puppies reportedly disappeared from the Seavey compound between the time when Animal Control first visited, and when State Police later arrived. Personally, I’d like to thank Nick Uphus – he did what was easy, and not what was right. However, he proved the point which I’ve been preaching for twenty years. He provided proof of the detachment of the mushing community from that of the animal welfare and regulatory processes in the State of Alaska, without a doubt. 

Thank you, Nick. Through your inability to act, we will invoke legal change to help these dogs. You’ve done more for the cause and furtherment of humane mushing than you know. 

Sign here and tell the Governor of Alaska to remove the clause exempting competition sled dogs from its animal cruelty laws:

Sign here to ask the Alaska Opiod Policy Task Force to fully investigate and hold Dallas criminally liable for any involvement with opiod drugs used on his Iditarod dogs:

Sign here to ask the Alaska State Senate to give sled dogs protection under the state’s animal cruelty statutes:

Visit us at Humane Mushing and let sponsors know that you aren’t going to put up with dog neglect, abuse, and death in the name of sport any longer:


One thought on “Sled Dogs Aren’t Worth Protecting

  1. Pingback: This Iditarod Dynasty Needs to End – Humane Mushing

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