It has now been three months since video of neglected, injured, and suffering sled dogs out of Moonstone, Ontario went viral (https://bit.ly/2I7oKnZ). It has been one year and five months since footage of neurotic, chained, and suffering sled dogs at the same location was first released at the 2016 Whistler Film Festival (https://bit.ly/2w4sPoa) – earning an award for Best Female Director and Best Documentary. The Sled Dogs documentary also showed a dog at this location freezing to death overnight; being found frozen solid outside of its doghouse, still chained, the next morning (https://bit.ly/2HNaQUO).
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) was notified of the conditions these dogs are forced to live in when the film was created. Renewed outcry for them to act occurred when the film was first released in late 2016. In January of 2018, nearly half a million people from all over the world spoke out on the Care2 petition site (https://bit.ly/2BfNd6J), asking for these dogs to be saved and the operation (Windrift Adventures) to be shut down.
Similarly, this spring, complaints were made to the New Brunswick Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NBSPCA) regarding two touring kennels in New Brunsiwck – Les Chiens de Traineaux C Arseneau Dog Sledding in Alcida, and Chien Adventures/Sled Dog Adventures in Allardville. The difference here is that the province of New Brunswick actually has an anti-tethering law on the books. Section 4(1.01) of the New Brunswick Regulation 2000—4 under the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (O.C. 2000—48) states that: “A person who has ownership, possession or care and control of a dog shall not tether the dog outdoors for more than 30 minutes between the hours of 11 PM and 6 AM, unless the person is outdoors and within 25 meters of the dog.” (https://bit.ly/2I3Kt0a)
However, upon multiple inspections of the Alcida kennel, the NBSPCA refused to enforce the tethering restriction or seize the animals. Upon questioning, it was clear that multiple board members, volunteers, and staff members were uneasy regarding sled dogs being exempted in practice, when there was no written exemption in the law. The reason why this is happening is both shocking and appalling – as it is due to a code of practice that was created to protect the very sled dogs it is now endangering.
A little background history is in order. In April of 2010, fifty-six sled dogs were brutally slaughtered in Whistler, British Columbia (https://youtu.be/kYvH4eJtduU). This act was carried out by a celebrated tour operator – then Vice President of Mush With PRIDE – Robert Fawcett. Mass culling in and of itself is not uncommon in the sled dog industry. The reason why this incident gained international attention is due to the fact that Fawcett filed for workman’s compensation for post traumatic stress disorder, which he claims that he “developed as a result of having to put down a large number of dogs” due to a slow winter tourist season. Excerpts from his report include:
“On April 21 and 23, 2010, he was tasked to cull the employer’s herd by approximately 100 dogs. The size of the cull meant that he had no choice but to euthanize the dog sin full view of other dogs slated to be euthanized. A veterinarian was contacted, but refused to euthanize healthy animals.”
“On April 21, 2010, he noticed that the dogs were getting hard to handle by about the 15th dog. It appeared to him that the dogs were experiencing anxiety and stress from observing the euthanasia of other members of the pack and were panicking. As a result of the panic, mid-way through April 21st, he wounded but did not kill one dog, Suzie… He had to chase Suzie through the yard because the horrific noise she made when wounded caused him to drop the leash. Although she had the left side of her cheek blown off and her eye hanging out, he was unable to catch her. He then obtained a gun with a scope and used it to shoot her when she settled down close to another group of dogs… After disposing of Suzie’s body, he noticed that another dog, Poker, was injured. He realized that when he shot Suzie, the bullet passed through and injured Poker. Poker was covered in blood from a neck wound and covered in his own feces. He believed that Poker suffered for approximately 15 minutes before he could be put down.”
“On April 21, 2010, he put down approximately 55 dogs. As he neared the end of the cull that day, the dogs were so panicked they were biting him; he had to wrap his arms in foam to avoid injury. He also had to perform what he described as ‘execution style’ killings where he wrestled the dogs to the ground and stood on them with one foot to shoot them. The last few kills were ‘multiple-shot’ killings as he was simply unable to get a clean shot. He described a guttural sound he had never heard before from the dogs and fear in their eyes.”
“The incidents on April 23, 2010, were worse than those on April 21, 2010. The fear and anxiety in the heard began almost immediately. Many of the killings were multiple-shot-execution-style and it took a great amount of time and wrestling to get the dogs in a position to be put down. The first significant incident on April 23, 2010 occurred when he noticed that a female, Nora, who he had shot approximately 20 minutes before, was crawling around in the mass grave he had dug for the animals. He had to climb down into the grave amidst the 10 or so bodies already there, and put her out of her misery. Shortly thereafter, he grazed an uncooperative male, taking off part of his head. The dog bolted and the worker realized he was out of ammunition. When he went to get more, he was attacked by the dog and had to kill the dog with his knife, slitting its throat while the dog was on top of him.”
“His memory of the final 15 dogs is fuzzy. Some he shot cleanly, others he had to chase. In some cases, it was simply easier to get behind the dogs and slit their throats and let them bleed out. By the end of it, he was covered in blood.”
Some positive change came from outcry resulting from the Whistler massacre. Legislation was introduced in British Columbia to give it one of the toughest animal cruelty laws, with maximum penalties rising from $10,000 to $75,000; and twenty-four months imprisonment instead of six. The legislation also extended the statute of limitations for prosecution under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals from six months to three years. However, changes also occurred which would not only damn British Columbia’s sled dogs – but all of Canada’s.
It began when former premier Gordon Campbell appointed a provincially led Sled Dog Task Force in February of 2011. One month later, the first documentation appeared. (https://bit.ly/2IbBz0V)
This task force noted that, “the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) has published a series of national codes specific to kennels and catteries as well as guidance on the use of firearms in the euthanasia of animals. In developing their materials, the CVMA draws upon the research and policy direction of their American counterpart the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The CVMA Code of Practice for Kennels is regularly used by enforcement agencies to determine generally accepted standards of animal care and has been endorsed by the Canadian Kennel Club. Within the sled dog sector, the leading source of information and voluntary standards related to the care of the animal shave been developed by a voluntary association of recreational and industry sled dog owners and operators from across Canada and the United States: Mush With PRIDE.” It’s worth noting that the CVMA, which the Task Force references, is actually opposed to tethering as a primary means of confinement, and states that in its standards.
According to a December 19th 2009 Anchorage Daily News article, “the organization Mush With PRIDE, established in 1991 as an organization of mushers who were concerned about the care of sled dogs and public perceptions of mushing, supports the responsible and humane treatment of all dogs, and is dedicated to enhancing the care and treatment of sled dogs in their traditional and modern uses. The abbreviations in the organization’s name, PRIDE, stand for Providing Responsible Information on a Dog’s environment, and to address some of the concerns related to sled dog care and training, the organization developed sled dog care and equipment guidelines. A voluntary kennel inspection program was established because, as the page on their web site explains, ‘the PRIDE board firmly believes that if we mushers conduct ourselves responsibly then we will be less likely to suffer from unknowing governmental regulation. We hope that this program is a demonstration of the fact that we can responsibly take care of our own’.” (https://bit.ly/2nmKjbc)
As was evidenced by the Vice President of PRIDE performing the Whistler massacre, and the occurrence of numerous other sled dog industry cruelty cases since PRIDE’s inception, self-regulation is not a viable option for sled dog sports.
A year after the Whistler incident, in January of 2012, the BC Sled Dog Code of Practice was released (https://bit.ly/2vvzNBV). “The Sled Dog Code of Practice is a reference document that provides guidance to sled dog owners and operators, veterinarians, and law enforcement officials. The Code of Practice contains recommended best practices. Mandatory requirements for Sled Dog operations are contained in the Sled Dog Standard of Care Regulation. The Working Group observed consensus that the welfare of sled dogs include their physical and mental state of well-being and that they are entitled to the principles of the ‘five freedoms’.” This is laughable, considering that the industry-promoted act of constant tethering flies directly in the face of the five freedoms.
The Association of British Travel Agents’ (ABTA) Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism provides a document regarding Sled Dog Welfare Needs & Best Practices, Based on the Five Freedoms. This includes, “freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area,” noting that, “tethering of sled dogs should be discouraged – but if it happens, it should not be for long periods of time. Operations with a small number of dogs are preferable, as they allow greater individual attention and socialization for each dog. Secure, well maintained yards are preferred – as they allow for regular exercise and can accommodate a number of animals comfortably.” (https://bit.ly/2nwzOzw)
The World Sleddog Association (WSA) also addresses tethering in its Code of Ethics for Animal Welfare, stating that “runs or pens must be large enough to allow dogs to perform most behaviors that are typical of their species. Good weather protection must be provided. Chain attitude is rejected. Unfortunately, in some countries it is permitted to keep dogs on chains. Nevertheless, this practice should be rejected by all sled dog organizations nationally and internationally. Sled dog organizations should engage with mushers practicing this with the aim to abolish this practice.” (https://bit.ly/2eqbgTU)
The fact that the BC Sled Dog Code of Practice is being used to defend tethering as a primary source of confinement for industry sled dogs is extremely disturbing, considering the fact that the province’s own BCSPCA spoke out against the practice during formulation of the Code of Practice and after. Craig Daniell, Chief Executive Officer for the BCSPCA stated in a February 20th 2012 interview that, “one of our main concerns regarding the sled dog industry has always been the continuous tethering of dogs. We fought very hard to ensure that this was not permitted in the new regulation. While the provision that dogs must be allowed off their tether at least once every 24-hours is a good first step, we believe this needs to go further in the future until sled dog operations do not use this practice at all.” He noted that there are excellent sled dog operations in BC who do not tether animals at all, stating that, “SnowPack Siberian Adventures in the North Thompson is one example of an operation that offers good welfare while still remaining financially viable. We would like to see the industry move to this standard.” (https://bit.ly/2HNdH4k)
The Prince Edward Island Animal Welfare Act Animal Welfare Regulations (https://bit.ly/2HK8hTo) states in Section 22 (23. Sled Dogs) that “every owner of a sled dog shall comply with the Sled Dog Code of Practice, January 30, 2012, published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of British Columbia.” However, that is the only province which has deemed the BC Sled Dog Code of Practice to be law. The Code itself even states that, “the Sled Dog Code of Practice is a reference document that provides guidance to sled dog owners and operators, veterinarians, and law enforcement officials. The Code of Practice contains recommended best practices. Mandatory requirements for Sled Dog operations are contained in the Sled Dog Standard of Care Regulation.” The Sled Dog Standard of Care Regulation is law only in British Columbia.
Carolyn Carter, Executive Director of the New Brunswick SPCA, has stated that they cannot enforce their own provincial law, 4(1.01) “A person who has ownership, possession, or care and control of a dog shall not tether the dog outdoors for more than 30 minutes between the hours of 11PM and 6AM unless the person is outdoors and within 25 meters of the dog,” due to Section 4(2) “A person shall not be convicted of an offence under subsection 18(2) of the Act for treating an animal in a manner (a) consistent with a standard or code of conduct, practice, or procedure specified in Schedule A; (b) consistent with generally accepted practices or procedures for such an activity, or (c) otherwise reasonable in the circumstances.” Their position is derived from the premise that “tethering is a generally accepted practice in the sled dog industry in Canada,” and refers to page 28 of the BC Sled Dog Code of Practice, page 34 of the Canadian Coalition for Sled Dogs Code of Practice, and page 7 of the Mush With PRIDE Sled Dog Care Guidelines as defense.
The BC Sled Dog Task Force was infiltrated by self-serving sled dog industry members, to protect both their way of life and their source of income. The Sled Dog Standard of Care Working Group included Frank Turner, who tethers approximately 130 sled dogs and profits from them as a tourist attraction (Muktuk Adventures) in Whitehorse. It also included Tim Tedford, who tethers approximately 30 sled dogs and profits from them as a tourist attraction (Candle Creek Sled Dogs) in Kelowna. He was quoted by CBC News stating that “sometimes shooting an animal is the most humane thing to do.” He also said, “I have euthanized dogs of my own and I would again if needed to.” (https://bit.ly/2rejm8S)
Two years after Whistler, a group of for-profit touring mushers in Canmore, Alberta, formed a smokescreen sled dog welfare organization known as the Canadian Coalition for Sled Dogs (CCSD). Connie Creighton, president of this coalition, stated that her objective was to, “develop a ‘bullet proof’ iron clad system to do something good for our industry and let the light shine where it needs to… without worry…” The president (Connie) and Vice President (Carlin Kimble) tether approximately 180 sled dogs, and profit from them as a tourist attraction (Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours) in Canmore. They use the CCSD as a platform to promote the continued tethering of sled dogs, and their own touring business. They host for-profit sled dog races, and ask for donations on their website – claiming that they will fund $25,000 – $250,000 studies which will prove tethering to be a humane method of confinement, even though numerous studies already exist which prove otherwise, and the practice is outlawed in foreign countries, and many of our own states and municipalities across North America. It’s additionally concerning that they also claim on their tax forms to be a non-soliciting corporation.
No current code of practice for sled dog operations in North America is derived from a purely welfare standpoint. Industry mushers who rely on the mass chain warehousing and factory farming of sled dogs have played a part in each and every piece of legislation and recommended practice written to date. Two more “best practice” literatures are in the works in Alaska – one coming from a racing and breeding kennel (Crazy Dog Kennels) posing as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in order to finance their racing career (https://bit.ly/2y4OBJ4), and another from the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in an attempt to placate corporate sponsors and fans despite a rising death toll. With high-profile, industry-leading mushers involved in cruelty investigations (https://bit.ly/2FzaRtr), dog doping scandals (https://bit.ly/2rh4Ek6), and banishments for racing dogs to death (https://bit.ly/2r5QgYN), we are likely to see more “codes of conduct” and “best practices” produced in an effort to shield the public from the reality of cruelty and neglect inherent in the sled dog industry.
The immediate problem we face is the growing database of footage of abused and neglected sled dogs, living in conditions which are illegal in Ontario and New Brunswick, which the respective humane law authorities are refusing to address, due to pressure from industry musher-led groups. Please e-mail email@example.com if you can provide any information which could help save these dogs and correct these atrocities.
Head Veterinarian Cristina (Nina) Hansen, DVM, PhD states that the final necropsy report indicates Boppy died of aspiration pneumonia caused by inhaling vomited stomach contents. Other findings include mild stomach ulcers, moderate intestinal inflammation, mild whipworm infestation, skeletal muscle necrosis, and severe weight
loss and muscle wasting.
The musher must have their dog team free of all prohibited drugs and foreign substances from the time of the Vet Check until released by a Race Veterinarian or Race Official after the team has finished the race. Dogs that are continuing in the race shall not receive any of the following:
Any substance by injection
Cold laser therapy
Corticosteroids or anabolic steroids
Any seizure medications
Any other treatment or therapy that, in the opinion of the Head Veterinarian, is not in the best interest of a dog that is to continue on in the race.
The Head Veterinarian must be notified of any dogs receiving allowed medication to treat an existing medical problem and a statement from the attending veterinarian describing the diagnosis and treatment must be presented with the YQI health certificate.
YQI Veterinarians or Veterinary Assistants may randomly collect blood and/or urine samples beginning at the Vet Check and up until 2 hours after a dog team has finished, scratched, or been withdrawn or disqualified from the race. It is the responsibility of the musher to assist the Race Veterinarian or Veterinary Assistant in the collection of the samples. The musher or the musher’s handler must be present at all times during the taking and sealing of such samples. Documents evidencing the procedure shall be signed by the musher or their handler. No person may interfere in any way with the collection of samples or procedures conducted under this rule.
Two years after the brutal slaughter of 56 sled dogs from a failed Olympic touring kennel (commonly referred to as “the Whistler massacre”), a group of for-profit mushers in Canmore, Alberta formed a smokescreen sled dog welfare organization known as the Canadian Coalition for Sled Dogs. The president of this coalition stated that her objective was to, “develop a ‘bullet proof’ iron clad system to do something good for our industry and let the light shine where it needs to… without worry…”
Since the Coalition’s inception in August of 2012, there have been numerous sled dog neglect cases in Canada which have gone ignored and unaided by the group.
In December 2013, the South Peace SPCA in Dawson Creek rescued 19 neglected sled dogs from a racing & touring kennel. The dogs hadn’t been properly socialized with people or other animals, and most were underweight. Many had medical issues such as dental problems and minor scrapes. According to an SPCA worker, “it’s a strain on our resources because these dogs will be here longer than the average dog would be. It’s a huge endeavor and we’re working with our behavior specialist at the BC SPCA to develop individual plans for each animal.”
Brian Ladoon has been exploiting and neglecting sled dogs in Churchill, Manitoba since 1976. In an article from Outdoor Photographer Magazine in May 1997, it states that a polar bear “ran amok through his remote sled dog camp eleven miles outside Churchill, killing 6 dogs, eating two and wounding 12 more.” Prior to 1997, numerous bears had also become entangled in the dogs’ chains and accidentally broken the dogs’ necks in their attempts to get free. Most recently, in November of 2016, a polar bear killed and ate one of his chained sled dogs shortly after a video of the bear interacting with the dog went viral online. These dogs are chained without perimeter fencing, and many are chained without shelter. Puppies are also chained here.
In November 2016, Deerhurst Resorts ceased sled dog tour operations after Shani Ride of Hidden Meadow Farms was convicted of animal cruelty. Earlier in the summer, nearly 40 neglected sled dogs were seized from her kennel. Officers discovered dogs with large, open wounds that had been left untreated, as well as numerous older, partially healed and infected wounds. The bodies of deceased dogs were also present on the property, including a deceased dog that was at the edge of the woods in a wheelbarrow and covered with a kennel door. A subsequent veterinary examination of three dogs surrendered into the care of the Ontario SPCA revealed broken and infected teeth, fever and a swollen, painful leg that caused one dog to limp badly.
In February of 2017, the Thunder Bay & District Humane Society conducted a cruelty seizure of sled dogs that were discovered by snowmobilers just south of Longlac. Several were found dead and of the 15 dogs seized, only 10 survived. The remaining dogs were extremely emaciated and malnourished. Using a body condition scale from one to nine, the dogs were on the low end of the scale, between one and two. “Some of the dogs had active wounds, and low body condition scoring as well,” said Jeremy Gardiner, a SPCA agent with the Thunder Bay Humane Society. “There was some neglect going on there for sure.”
Steven Laviolette is a 4th generation musher who has operated a touring kennel for the past 20 years, and who has run sled dogs for the past 30+ years. He competed in the 2010 SHCC South Central Rig Race Bikejor 2-Miler, the 2011 Bancroft Sleddog Race 8-Dog 50-Miler, and the 2017 Canadian Challenge Race 12-Dog 336-Miler. He lives in Ste-Lucie-des-Laurentides, Quebec, and was planning to run the 2018 Yukon Quest. Steven killed a handful of his dogs and scattered the rest throughout Quebec kill-shelters during the first week of August 2017. Prior to 2017, he had up to 150 sled dogs.
While the Thunder Bay & District Humane Society, British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Victoria Humane Society, Vancouver Humane Society, South Peace Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Siberian Husky Assistance & Rescue Program of Canada, and many individual sled dog welfare activists have assisted both large and small cruelty seizures of sled dogs throughout Canada over the last six years, the Canadian Coalition for Sled Dogs has been strangely absent.
Though the Coalition claims that, “the organization works with federal and provincial governments to support efforts that ensure the humane treatment of animals in the commercial and racing sled dog operations,” there has been no sign of their involvement in any legislative process regarding animals. Their annual non-profit reports, which we purchased from Corporations Canada: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada / Government of Canada, show absolutely no activity in the organization aside for a sporadic annual meeting.
You may ask yourself – what exactly is the Coalition doing? They’re hosting for-profit sled dog races, and asking for your donations on their website – claiming that they will fund $25,000 – $250,000 studies which will prove chaining to be a humane method of confinement – however, they claim on their tax forms to be a non-soliciting corporation. By Canadian non-profit law, a corporation is considered soliciting when it has received more than $10,000 in income from public sources in a single financial year. Public sources include gifts or donations from non-members, grants from government and funds from another corporation that also received income from public sources.
Their board members are also chaining 180 sled dogs and profiting from them as a tourist attraction.
Now that the Windrift Adventures touring kennel neglect case has gone viral on Facebook, the Coalition appears to be hoping to cash in on the fame. Though they have no investigative powers, they recently made a Facebook post claiming that they are, “intent in further investigating this particular issue,” and that, “sadly, neither Natasha nor Dylan, the creators of this video, have chosen to cooperate in our investigation thus far.”
The Coalition claims that to be producing a regulating body of standards which, “would include humane kennel management, tethering and penning practices, free run requirements, veterinary care, mandatory dog registration, adoption outlines, a strict no-kill policy for controlling numbers and more,” and, “an educated, regulated permitting body [which would] would monitor kennels to ensure fully-disclosed, transparent operations.” In six years, none of this has happened.
We urge you – RESEARCH BEFORE YOU DONATE.
If you are interested in actually helping with the humane mushing movement and enacting laws to raise the standards of sled dog welfare, join us at K-9 Unchain Canada and K-9 Unchain USA on Facebook. Sign existing petitions to help sled dogs who are currently suffering. Join us at Humane Mushing and the Whistler Sled Dog Co. on Facebook to learn when foster care and rescue transport is needed for large-scale sled dog seizures. Together, we can make a real difference for North America’s sled dogs.
On December 1st 2017, the Iditarod Trail Committee published a press release stating the following:
The Iditarod Trail Committee announced today that it is developing framework for a “Best Care” kennel management program.
The objective of the kennel management program will be to ensure that all kennels
entering the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race meet certain standards in areas such as
breeding, shelter, tethers, cleanliness, nutrition, hydration, vaccinations, socialization, bedding, record-keeping, euthanasia, on-site care and kennel size. The program will involve kennel visits and a certification process.
To assist in generating the standards to be included in the “Best Care” kennel
management program for year-round care, the Iditarod Trail Committee board of
directors appointed an advisory committee made up of the following individuals from the mushing community:
• Vern Halter
• Martin Buser
• Dee Dee Jonrowe
• Jeff King
• Aliy Zirkle
• Sebastian Schnuelle
• Karen Ramstead
The ITC plans on implementing the “Best Care” kennel management program prior to the opening day for entries (June 23, 2018) for the 2019 Iditarod.
To those who have not been involved in the mushing circle for the past two decades, this may seem like a revelation. Let me tell you why it’s not.
According to the Anchorage Daily News,
The organization Mush with P.R.I.D.E., established in 1991 as an organization of mushers who were concerned about the care of sled dogs and public perceptions of mushing, supports the responsible care and humane treatment of all dogs, and is dedicated to enhancing the care and treatment of sled dogs in their traditional and modern uses.
The abbreviations in the organization’s name, P.R.I.D.E., stand for Providing Responsible Information on a Dog’s Environment, and to address some of the concerns relating to sled dog care and training, the organization developed sled dog care and equipment guidelines. A voluntary kennel inspection program was established because, as the page on their Web site explains, “The P.R.I.D.E. Board firmly believes that if we mushers conduct ourselves responsibly then we will be less likely to suffer from unknowing governmental regulation. We hope that this program is a demonstration of the fact that we can responsibly take care of our own.
Sounds familiar, right? Just like what the Iditarod is attempting to do – a self-regulatory body comprised of mushers to promote elevated standards of care.
In the Mush with PRIDE Spring 2009 Newsletter, we have an article written by “Whistler Bob,” aka Bob Fawcett.
In 2010, Bob Fawcett was the Vice President of Mush with PRIDE.
On April 21st and April 23rd 2010, “Whistler Bob,” Vice President of Mush with PRIDE, killed 56 sled dogs in plain sight of their teammates. Methods of execution included gunshot and knifing. Below are excerpts from the documentation he submitted to WorkSafe BC:
As a result of the panic, mid-way through April 21st, he wounded but did not kill one dog, “Suzie.” Suzie was the mother of his family’s pet dog, “Bumble.” He had to chase Suzie through the yard because the horrific noise she made when wounded caused him to drop the leash. Although she had the left side of her cheek blown off and her eye hanging out, he was unable to catch her. He then obtained a gun with a scope and used it to shoot her when she settled down close to another group of dogs… After disposing of Suzie’s body, he noticed that another dog, “Poker,” was injured. He realized that when he shot Suzie, the bullet passed through and injured Poker. Poker was covered in blood from a neck wound and covered in his own feces. He believed that Poker suffered for approximately 15 minutes before he could be put down.
On April 21, 2010, he put down approximately 55 dogs. As he neared the end of the cull that day, the dogs were so panicked they were biting him… He also had to perform what he described as “execution style” killings where he wrestled the dogs to the ground and stood on them with one foot to shoot them. The last few kills were “multiple-shot” killings as he was simply unable to get a clean shot. He described a guttural sound he had never heard before from the dogs and fear in their eyes… The incidents on April 23, 1020, were worse than those on April 21, 2010… The fear and anxiety in the herd began almost immediately. Many of the killings were multiple-shot-execution-style and it took a great amount of time and wrestling to get the dogs in a position to be put down… He noticed that a female, “Nora,” who had been shot approximately 20 minute before, was crawling around in the mass grave he had dug for the animals. He had to climb down into the grave amidst the 10 or so bodies already there, and put her out of her misery… Shortly thereafter, he grazed an uncooperative male, taking off part of his head. The dog bolted and the worker realized he was out of ammunition. When he went to get more, he was attacked by the dog and had to kill the dog with his knife, by slitting its throat while the dog was on top of him.
Mush with PRIDE is only one example of how self-regulation doesn’t work in the sled dog industry. After the November 2016 world premiere of the Sled Dogs documentary, industry mushers who chain their dogs once again renewed their efforts to appear humane to the general public. In the first few months of 2017, we saw the creation of one pro-chaining organization – the “Canadian Coalition for Sled Dogs” – and the revitalization of another – the “Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon.” The CCSD is made up of members and supporters of a profit-based touring kennel which chains 180 sled dogs, while the DPSAY’s current spokesperson proudly chains 130 sled dogs of his own.
“The owners adoption program is a lie,” was the opening statement in an anonymous e-mail I received on September 27th 2017 at 11:26 PM. “The only dogs that have left are dogs taken by former employees.”
This in and of itself was not surprising, as Krabloonik had 50 dogs “available for adoption” when Dan and Gina Phillips took over in December of 2014. Many of these dogs have never been accounted for – see our previous article for their photographs. However, it’s what the rest of the e-mail had to say that caused me to get out of bed and boot up my laptop, at nearly midnight on a work night.
Dogs that become sick without a vet knowing die chained up and their bodies are thrown off the outside perimeter of the kennel. This is how the owners have reduced the amount of dogs while saving money on vet bills and covering their tracks. Other dogs who become sick are chained until their illness becomes sever. The owners then will contact a vet once the dog is nearly dead to justify euthanization. The owners also lie about the ages of the sick dogs, saying they are twice as old to the vet to help justify euthanization. The off chaining exercise is non existent in the off season. The majority of dogs stay chained up the ENTIRE off season and do not receive any interaction. The owners lie about this because no one actually checks or watches to see if this happens. The owners employ as low as one person to work at the kennel of over 210 dogs during the off season. The owners do not train or interact with the dogs – period – and do not know the majority of their names (90+%). The owners rarely go down to the kennel unless there is a public photo-shoot or event. All of this is possible because no one is checking them. The owners preach to the public about caring and being involved when in truth, they do horrible things behind the scenes and rarely come to work. The owners are con artists who are neglecting the dogs for their own personal profit. New cars, houses, dirt bikes, four wheelers, hot tubs, etc. The owners are a shame to the rest of the dog sledding business. The board members in charge of watching them are never around. The board members do not actually do anything, showing up to the kennel once a year, not actually witnessing anything they have told you. The board members take the owners’ words for fact and that’s it. Whomever you have spoken to has lied about everything to you. PACFA also shows up once a year and does not check ANYTHING. These people will lie and manipulate in any way they can to make it appear otherwise. Keep digging.
So, of course, I dug.
The following is from the Revised and Amended Krabloonik Lease and Option (Page 5 of 12) Town Council Resolution, dated March 16th 2015:
11. BEST PRACTICES REVIEW COMMITTEE: The Landlord and Tenant shall establish a Best Practices Review Committee (the “BPRC”) comprised of six members. The members of the BPRC shall either be residents of the Town of Snowmass Village or shall be residents of the Roaring Fork Valley who are knowledgeable and experienced in the care and treatment of dogs. The owners of Krabloonik, Inc. shall not be members of the BPRC. The Landlord shall select three members and Tenant shall select three members of the BPRC and both Landlord and Tenant shall select committee members with the intent to create a fair and balanced committee.
a. No less than quarterly, the members of the BPRC, either collectively or individually, shall inspect and review the operation of the Krabloonik Kennels to determine the extent to which Tenant is complying with the Best Practices. The BPRC shall annually prepare a report based on Best Practices compliance which shall be addressed to the Town Manager and distributed to the Town Council. The Annual report may include suggestions for modifications or clarifications to the Best Practices.
After hours of sifting through the Town of Snowmass Village (TOSV) public portal, I decided to contact them regarding the documents I was seeking (which, according to their Revised Lease [above], are supposed to be provided to the Town Council annually):
Low and behold, I actually received an e-mail from the Town Manager:
So I e-mailed the Town Clerk with my records request.
She was out-of-office, so I e-mailed the Town Attorney.
The Town Attorney actually responded, giving me a little hope for actually acquiring these so-called public records.
The report I finally received is as follows:
The Best Practices Committee is supposed to inspect the kennel no less than quarterly, and prepare a follow-up report annually. There is no report for 2015 or 2017 – and we’d like to know why.
Working with the only report we have, we take a look at a some disturbing facts. In the aforementioned 2016 report, it states that “when the temperature is cooler than 75 degrees, dogs get off tether time & free running daily for one hour on the property.” This coincides with what Dan and Gina told ABC Nightline in their September interview: “In the off season, the dogs are allowed to run free for an hour a day. Gina and Danny admit they’re tethered for the other 23, but insist they’re happy.”
When we do the math, the figures are horrifying. Krabloonik states (http://bit.ly/2mWoKy2) that their dogsledding season is from November 1st to May 1st. So from May through October, the off-season permits the 1 hour of off-chain time as described in both the Nightline interview and the Best Practices Committee statement. With these facts in mind:
When asked what had changed from when Dan MacEachen owned Krabloonik, Dan Philips stated: “The love. Yanno, really – we love these dogs. Every minute, every waking minute with these dogs is just love.”
However, the conditions shown in the Nightline interview, the e-mail from an anonymous alleged employee, the fact that the dogs are chained for over 95% of the off-season, and the following PACFA cruelty reports – made just a couple of weeks before the Nightline interview – prove otherwise.
As we enter the busiest tourist season in Colorado, those of us involved in the humane mushing movement are very concerned for Krabloonik’s dogs. There appears to be no accountability for enforcement of the requirements set forth when the kennel remained open after having the previous owner convicted of animal cruelty. Video filmed by ABC Nightline crews clearly shows us that many of the previous poor conditions still exist, even under new ownership. The dog population is going up, not down. There is no open-door policy in effect. Even tourists are taking to social media to denounce care and conditions at this kennel (http://bit.ly/2xDFxZV). Why, in 2017, when there is a national campaign to end dog chaining, are we seeing these issues persisting at Krabloonik? And why, when the abuse which runs rampant in the sport is hitting mainstream media and film, is the general public not outraged?
We have reached out to the Colorado Citizens for Canine Welfare, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Mayor of Snowmass Village, and Colorado Department of Agriculture with our concerns. If you have a concern, or information to add, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For those of you claiming that the photos submitted to PETA of Dallas Seavey’s Willow (barrel photos) and Talkeetna (red house photos) kennel locations were somehow “staged” by the handler, you are wrong. The following photos are directly from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Animal Control Investigation (Case #A17-002010). These photos were taken by animal control after the Seaveys were given prior notice of their intent to inspect. They show the same exact conditions. If this is how a world-class kennel looks, our sport is in serious trouble. Please sign here and here to help sled dogs get protection under Alaska’s animal cruelty statutes. Conditions like these exist because sled dogs are currently EXEMPT from anti-cruelty legislation in the State of Alaska.
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 (http://nyti.ms/2h6llHx), then animal rights activists (http://bit.ly/2hyZiJU), and is now attempting to overthrow the Iditarod Trail Committee (http://bit.ly/2inEncb). 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 (http://bit.ly/2h40PHi) in the midst of Alaska’s opioid epidemic (http://bit.ly/2lGRZnM), 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. (http://bit.ly/2zcCHMT)
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.” (http://bit.ly/2zqZVj9)
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.” (http://bit.ly/2inwCD0)
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.“ (http://bit.ly/2inwCD0)
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.” (http://bit.ly/2z7ABxS)
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: http://greatergood.me/2inr8by
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: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/522/583/781/demand-legal-charges-against-dallas-seavey-for-giving-opioid-drugs-to-his-iditarod-sled-dogs/
Sign here to ask the Alaska State Senate to give sled dogs protection under the state’s animal cruelty statutes: https://www.change.org/p/anti-cruelty-protections-for-sled-dogs
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: http://www.humanemushing.com/action-alerts
UPDATED CASE PHOTOS TAKEN BY MAT-SU ANIMAL CARE AND CONTROL: https://humanemushing.wordpress.com/2017/11/16/update-mat-su-borough-case-a17-002010-files/
UPDATED NEWS STORY REGARDING MAT-SU ANIMAL CARE & CONTROL’S CLOSED CASE: https://humanemushing.wordpress.com/2017/11/02/sled-dogs-arent-worth-protecting/
READ OUR NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE REGARDING COVERUP AT MAT-SU: https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/11/02/us/ap-us-iditarod-dogs-investigation.html
STATE POLICE CASE REMAINS OPEN.
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW:
If it weren’t for the sheer terror recorded in Dallas Seavey’s knee-jerk YouTube video on the day he was revealed to be the notorious Musher-X, we honestly would have thought that he was taking one for the team, and this was the Iditarod’s way of playing the victim in the wake of the humane mushing movement and productions of the Sled Dogs documentary. However, anyone watching his video can clearly see that he is a scared child who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
Both Mitch and Danny Seavey (father and brother, respectively) attempted to shield Dallas and point the news away from him, making false claims in the process (source). Now mushers are coming out in scores on Facebook, claiming that they don’t believe that Dallas was administering pain-killing medication to his dogs in order to break Iditarod speed records. The distance which once took twenty days to cover now sees the Seavey family ticking off speed records at eight or nine days, quickly approaching a 7-day Iditarod.
Good genetics can only make a dog so fast. Mass production also helps, as the Seavey family boasts dog lots in Sterling, Seward, Willow, and Talkeetna. It’s easy to hand-pick the very best athletes when you factory farm litter upon litter of sled dogs for years on end.
Mushers and the Iditarod Trail Committee are grasping at any straw they can to attempt to save face and protect their golden goose family, the Seaveys. Most mushers are coming out in support to cover their dirty tracks. However, some mushers are deciding that enough is enough (https://craigmedred.news/2017/10/25/iditarod-deaths/) and are speaking up for the dogs and the truth. That being said, if you’re up for some more truth, check what’s been happening over the last week while Dallas was overseas:
People periodically reach out to me with eyewitness accounts of sled dog abuse and neglect, because I run Humane Mushing. I’ve had right around ten such correspondences with varying degrees of specificity since the Dallas Seavey dog-doping scandal broke on the October 23rd 2017. And then, on Wednesday, October 25th 2017, a current handler at Dallas Seavey’s kennel reached out to me. What this handler had to share was nothing I didn’t expect, but still none the less horrifying and upsetting. This is when I reached out People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, to have proper cruelty investigation put into play (see their press release here: http://bit.ly/2lyWLnr). The firsthand account you’re about to read, and the photos taken over the past two months at Dallas Seavey’s kennel may disturb you. Viewer discretion is advised.
“There was a litter of 8 that now only one is alive,” the handler wrote. “They did not have any vet care or anything. Mom wasn’t supposed to get pregnant. She is 1 and just didn’t know how to care for the pups. I nursed most of them to try and save them but only was able to keep one of the ones i was nursing alive for almost 5 days, but he had seizures and didn’t make it unfortunately. Now there is one left and the mom is caring for her.”
Below is a grave where a handler buried aforementioned deceased puppies.
Seven were buried in total at the time of these photos. When asked how the puppies died, we were told they died on their own from their illnesses. Accidental litters are reportedly not given the same care as planned litters at the Dallas Seavey kennel.
Friday, October 27th 2017 , at 11:03 AM MT, we received this message: “The other puppy died.”
Distraught and panicked, the handler we had been speaking with searched for the final dead puppy. The kennel manager stated that he would be burying the puppy at the new kennel location in Talkeetna – where six other sick, older puppies were reportedly housed while final kennel operations were being moved from Willow to Talkeetna. When Alaska State Police attempted to find these puppies over the weekend, they were reportedly unable to. After likely being tipped off by one of the local agencies which received our report of cruel and inhumane conditions at Dallas’s kennel, we are unsure as to whether the puppies were relocated to a third party musher’s kennel (as has been rumored) or simply killed.
Puppies aren’t the only ones suffering at the hands of Dallas Seavey and his handlers, however. Dogs who fight are reportedly forced to run together in a barbaric attempt to teach them to behave. “One of them always shuts downs and starts fighting with the other,” the handler said, “and I’ve told them to separate them many times, but they never do. And they fight, resulting in beatings, and then of course one of them doesn’t want to keep running and freaks out.”
These training sessions result in wounds like this, suffered by a dog named Slough, which never received actual veterinary care:
This is what you get when you support industrial mushing and the Iditarod:
Untreated, injured, sick, and dying dogs of all ages (some with chronic diarrhea and vomiting):
Dilapidated dog houses that are so saturated that mother dogs refuse to go into them and tend to their freezing, dying puppies. One handler made a makeshift bed of straw and put up a tarp while the kennel manager took two weeks to replace this mother’s house, which was saturated and soaked through. This is Ripple, an A-string dog that is featured on Dallas’s website.
Numerous dogs appear to suffer from untreated gum disease and broken, rotting teeth.
With 110 dogs, it’s obvious that care will rapidly decline.
Conditions at the new Talkeetna kennel location don’t appear much better.
With A-team dogs – multiple Iditarod finishers likely worth thousands of dollars -receiving such poor care, it’s horrifying to think what sort of care the “contenders” and “tour dogs” receive. Then there’s dogs like Gott – a 10 or 11 year old, 3-legged, special-needs dog who is brought to the front of the kennel and dressed up for promotional pieces for interviews by productions like Vice Sports (http://bit.ly/2A3iMh4), then put back on his chain in the corner where he struggles to function on a daily basis to even get out of his dog house (https://youtu.be/EOkShV2x4io) and is forced to remain on a chain, which provides limited movement (https://youtu.be/YpovZF8v4VU).
Other dogs are not provided with veterinary care even when they can’t put weight on a swollen leg for three days, like Tigress (https://youtu.be/JlHsa4EMzB0). Dogs are forced to live chained to filthy, dilapidated structures, amid melting pools of their own filth (https://youtu.be/QNnIILMqJTs), which result in bloody, infected feet (https://youtu.be/i9uodabxfFM).
After “several” sled dogs competing in the 2017 Iditarod tested positive for “a prohibited substance,” the Iditarod Trail Committee Board of Directors voted Friday to change its rules. The dogs that tested positive were in a “single musher’s team,” the Iditarod said in a statement released Monday. The statement did not name the musher or say what drug the dogs tested positive for. – Anchorage Daily News, October 9th 2017
Several sled dogs on a 2017 Iditarod team tested positive for tramadol, a pain reliever prohibited by the race, the Iditarod Trail Committee said Tuesday. The Iditarod released the information in a brief statement late Tuesday afternoon, several days after race officials last week refused to name the prohibited drug or the musher involved. Race spokesman Chas St. George said last week that “legal concerns” prevented the release of the information. – Anchorage Daily News, October 17th 2017
The Iditarod Official Finishers Club president sent a statement to mushers Wednesday on behalf of the unnamed competitor whose dogs, race officials said, tested positive for tramadol, a prohibited pain reliever, in the 2017 race. The statement does not name the competitor, referring to him or her as “Musher X.” “Musher X was led to believe that the Head Veterinarian and Race Marshall suspected either an accident or possibly foul play in the Nome dog lot or food bags,” the statement said. “They assured Musher X the issue was over, no further action was necessary, and that measures were being taken to increase security of the food drops, checkpoints, and the Nome dog yard.” – Anchorage Daily News, October 19th 2017
Musher X will be allowed to participate in next year’s race and will not face any disciplinary actions. – KTUU NBC, October 19th 2017
Three-time and defending Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Mitch Seavey of Sterling appears to have used a prohibited substance on his dogs for years if his 2014 testimonial for a supplement maker and his Facebook posts are to be believed. “For nearly two decades, I’ve used Young Living Wintergreen Oil for after-workout massages on my elite canine athletes,” he posted on his Facebook page on Feb. 13, 2015. “In fact, we used so much Wintergreen we once tried a knock-off product from an online source – until the dogs began losing hair and suffering skin irritations.” Wintergreen contains methyl salicylate, an Iditarod-prohibited chemical. Seavey has not returned phone calls. – Craig Medred News, October 16th 2017
At this time, Mitch Seavey will be allowed to participate in next year’s Iditarod and will not face any disciplinary actions, as the ITC has not even addressed this issue.
OCTOBER 23RD 2017 UPDATES
Statement from the Iditarod Official Finisher’s Club:
The IOFC unanimously demands the release of Musher X’s name within 72 hours
and is asking for complete transparency moving forward.
Additionally the IOFC unanimously believes that Rule 53, more commonly referred to as the “gag rule,” needs to be eliminated in its entirety from the 2018 race and from future races. Whether intended or not, Rule 53 makes mushers fear speaking out against the race or its policies for fear of retribution. The IOFC believes that in the creation of Rule 53 that the ITC has done more harm than good to the sport of dog sledding, and seeks to immediately reverse that policy. (http://bit.ly/2gDDNdD)
In March of 2015, the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer reported on the induction of Rule 53, stating that:
The rule, which hasn’t been publicly announced or commented on by race officials, bars mushers from making remarks deemed harmful to the race or its sponsors from the time they sign up until 45 days after crossing the finish line in Nome. The rule is a bad one — in seeking to muzzle mushers, the Iditarod is saying it doesn’t trust the people who are the face of the race. (http://bit.ly/2zKBk5x)
“Iditarod musher Jason Mackey was charged on Thursday with stealing four dog kennels from another musher in Nome after the teams completed the 2017 race. Mackey, 45, faces a single charge of third-degree theft, a misdemeanor.” – Anchorage Daily News, October 19th 2017
“Four-time Iditarod and Yukon Quest champion Lance Mackey was arrested for driving under the influence and refusal to submit to a chemical breath test in Fairbanks Sunday.” – Anchorage Daily News, June 3rd 2013
“Four-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey was arrested near Fairbanks on Saturday for violating conditions of release in a pending 2013 DUI case by driving without a valid license, the Alaska State Troopers said. He didn’t have a valid driver’s license or proof of vehicle insurance.” – Anchorage Daily News, April 6th 2014
“The wife of four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champ Lance Mackey was arrested on Monday for assault.” – Anchorage Daily News, January 17th 2012
“The driver was identified as Tonga L. Mackey, age 43 of Sterling. An investigation revealed Mackey was driving while impaired by alcohol. Mackey was arrested and remanded to the Anchorage Jail.” – Turnagain Times, October 18th 2012
“Investigation revealed the driver, Tonga Mackey age 47 of Wasilla, was operating the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Mackey was arrested for DUI Alcohol and transported to the Mat-Su Pretrial Facility.” – State of Alaska Daily Dispatch, April 20th 2017
“A veteran Iditarod musher and his longtime partner have been charged with assault in an incident with Alaska State Troopers, who showed up at the couple’s Talkeetna cabin late Sunday. Neighbors said Gerald “Jerry” Sousa fired a gun while driving a four-wheeler on their land. Neighbors called about Sousa, a member of the Iditarod Trail Committee Inc., who finished 20th in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race this year. The troopers met Sousa at his cabin’s front door. He was naked and holding a black revolver, according to Blanchette’s account in the charging document.” – Anchorage Daily News, July 18th 2012
“A musher who has been charged in a domestic violence case has been banned from next year’s Iditarod, race officials announced Friday in Alaska. The Iditarod Trail Committee Board said in a prepared statement that it ‘will not accept race applications from Travis Beals in 2017 and for an indefinite period of time thereafter.’ Beals faces misdemeanor assault and criminal mischief charges filed in state court in Palmer for a Dec. 21 incident in Willow, Alaska.” – New York Daily News, April 30th 2016
“A former Jr. Iditarod champion and son of a legendary musher was arrested Wednesday after taking police on a car chase ending in an hour-long stand-off. Rohn Buser, the 20-year-old son of four-time Iditarod champion Martin Buser and 2008 Iditarod musher himself, sped south past Alaska State Troopers in a construction zone just outside of Seward, said Seward Police Chief Tom Clemons.” – Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, February 27th 2010
“Four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King has been charged in federal court with illegally killing a moose inside the boundaries of Denali National Park and Preserve. Charging documents filed in Fairbanks this week also accuse the musher of illegally driving an ATV off road in the park during the hunt last fall. Both violations are misdemeanors. The case was investigated by national park rangers, who discovered a moose kill site inside the north border of the park, Denali spokeswoman Kris Fister said.” – The Seattle Times, April 10th 2009
“A West Yellowstone man has been charged with animal cruelty for allegedly abandoning 33 sled dogs earlier this month near Targhee Pass, west of West Yellowstone. John T. Hessert was charged with one count of felony aggravated animal cruelty and 33 counts of animal cruelty. A veterinarian found they were “well below normal health,” and had not been fed enough. Court records say one of the dogs had a collar embedded in its neck and other dogs had frostbite.” – Montana News Station, July 14th 2008
“In September 1991, Frank Winkler, a two-time Iditarod racer, was charged with 14 counts of cruelty to animals after an animal control officer, summoned by Winkler’s neighbor, found a crate of dead and dying puppies in Winkler’s pickup truck. Winkler allegedly bludgeoned the puppies with the blunt end of an ax.” – American Chronicle, January 24th 2006
“Jerry Riley, the 1975 winner of the Iditarod, was banned for life in 1990 after he hit and killed a dog with a snow hook – a large, sharp metal claw.” – American Chronicle, January 24th 2006
2000 Iditarod – RIP Tobuk
A dog named Tobuk traveling in the team of musher Al Hardman near Elim abruptly keeled over and died (March 16th). Exactly one year ago on March 15 Rodman, Jeremy Gebauer’s dog, died of the same affliction running Iditarod ’99, said race veterinarian Stuart Nelson.
2001 Iditarod – RIP Dan, Carhartt
Race officials said preliminary findings of a necropsy performed on the 3-year-old male named Dan showed fluid in the lungs. The dog’s death was determined to have been caused by pulmonary edema, or fluid in the lungs. The only other significant abnormalities observed included a decrease in esophageal and gastric (stomach) muscle tone combined with gastric ulcerations.
Little from Kasilof, a reporter for the Daily News, left the dog (Carhartt) in the care of Iditarod handlers Tuesday because it looked tired and wasn’t eating well. The dog was signed our of Hiland Mountain late Thursday by Melissa DeVaughn, an experienced musher and co-worker of Little’s. She found it dead in her yard Friday morning. The dog died of an uncommon condition known as pyothorax, a bacterial infection of the chest cavity lining.
2002 Iditarod – RIP Goro, Mark
Jim Oehlschlaeger’s dog Goro died in the 2002 Iditarod. He was a 5 year old male. The preliminary report released Monday night said the dog suffered a spinal injury in the neck area as the result of a tangle in the gangline.
The Iditarod Trail Committee was notified today by Musher DeeDee Jonrowe that her lead dog Mark died during surgery to repair a stomach ulcer.
2003 Iditarod – RIP Joker
Joker, a 7-year-old male, was in the team of Jim Gallea. The dog died Sunday as Gallea was traveling from White Mountain to Safety.
2004 Iditarod – RIP Wolf, Takk
A 5-year-old dog in the team of Lance Mackey of Kasilof died Tuesday, the first animal to perish in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race. Race marshal Mark Nordman said the dog, named Wolf, died about 20 miles into the 80-mile-long trip mushers make across the desolate Farewell Burn from a cabin in Rohn to the town of Nikolai.
Kjetil Backen, who was between a quarter-mile and half-mile from the Unalakleet checkpoint when he stopped his sled, said the dog (a 7-year-old male named Takk) sat down and died.
2005 Iditarod – RIP Rita, Nellie, Oakley, Tyson
Gebhardt’s dog Rita dropped dead while in harness en route from Anvik on March 12. A preliminary necropsy indicates the cause of death was anemia, from gastric ulcers.
Nellie, Doug Swingley’s dog died in Anchorage on March 17, after being dropped off in Elim at March 15 with pneumonia. The gross necropsy indicated an intestinal abnormality (a double intussusception).
Oakley, Jason Barron’s dog died on March 17 on the way to Nome from Safety. The gross necropsy revealed no cause of death.
Tyson, Michael Salvisberg’s dog died on March 18. Tyson was dropped in White Mountain and transported to Nome. The dog was tied to the ski of the plane but the lead came loose and Tyson ran onto the ice of the Bering Sea, fell into open water, and drowned.
2006 Iditarod – RIP Yellowknife, Bear, Cupid, Jack
Yellowknife, a 4-year-old male from Noah Burmeister’s team, died on March 9 at 6:00 a.m.. Yellowknife was initially dropped at Rohn on March 7, and was provided medical care in Anchorage. The preliminary necroposy indicated pneumonia as the cause of death.
Bear, a 3-year-old male from David Sawatzsky’s team, died on March 11 between Cripple and Ruby. The gross necroposy found no abnormalities.
Cupid, a 4-year-old female from Jim Lanier’s team, died on March 12 between Galena and Nulato. The gross necropsy found regurgitation and aspiration were the likely cause of death, and secondarily gastric ulcers.
Jack, a 5-year-old male from Wisconsin musher Ron Cortte’s team, died on March 18 at White Mountain. Jack was examined by veterinarians on arrival and appeared normal, but died of unknown causes 30 min later.
2007 Iditarod – RIP Snickers, Thongy, “Name Unknown”
Witnesses said they saw Ramy Brooks punch and kick some of his dogs and hit them with a ski pole when they refused to leave a checkpoint during a March 15, 2007 stage in Golovin, Alaska, less than 100 miles (160 km) from the finish in Nome, Alaska. One of Brooks‘ dogs died the day after the incident, but a necropsy could not determine why the dog died (name unknown).
Snickers, a six and a half year old female in the team of Karen Ramstead, died at approximately 11 p.m. on Sunday night in the checkpoint of Grayling. Preliminary indications showed that Snickers expired as a result of and acute hemorrhage due to a gastric ulcer.
A three year old male named “Thong” in the team of Matt Hayashida, died this morning on the trail between Koyuk and Elim. Preliminary indications showed that Thong expired as a result of acute pneumonia.
2008 Iditarod – RIP Zaster, Lorne, Cargo
A 7-year-old male named ‘Zaster’ in the team of musher #87, John Stetson, died at 0120 this morning. Zaster was dropped at Ophir at 0200 on Friday and had been transported to Anchorage where he was being treated for signs of pneumonia. Aspiration pneumonia was determined to be the likely cause of death.
At approximately 10 p.m. last evening, a snowmachiner ran into Jennifer Freking’s team on the Yukon River near Koyukuk. Unfortunately, the incident caused the death of a 3-year-old female named ‘Lorne.’
A 4-year-old male named ‘Cargo’ died at 5:00 pm on Tuesday March 11, 2008. Cargo was part of the team of Kotzebue Alaska musher, Ed Iten (Bib #32). He passed away between Elim and White Mountain.
2009 Iditarod – RIP Victor, Dizzy, Grasshopper, Maynard, Omen, Cirque
A dog (6-year-old Victor) running the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Jeff Holt’s team died suddenly early Tuesday morning, according to a press release from the race’s Anchorage headquarters. It happened between the Rainy Pass and Rohn checkpoints.
Two more dogs (Dizzy and Grasshopper) have died during the 2009 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Musher Lou Packer, a rookie from Wasilla, was overdue on his run from the ghost town of Iditarod to Shageluk along with two other teams on Monday when race officials dispatched an Iditarod Air Force pilot to search for them. When spotted by the pilot, Packer signaled he was in distress, according to an Iditarod press release. Upon landing, the pilot discovered that two of Packer’s 15 dogs had died. Rookie Lou Packer, a physician from Wasilla, believes his dogs died of hypothermia after his team was trapped out in 45-below temperatures and howling wind in the Innoko River country. He could feel ice begin to form under the skin of one of the dogs before its death, he said, but there was nothing he could do to help the animal.
A five year old male named Maynard in the team of Warren Palfrey (Yellowknife NWT, Canada) died on the trail between Safety and Nome late last evening. The incident occurred about an hour before Palfrey’s arrival.
An eight year old male named Omen in the team of Rick Larson (Bib #5) died on the Iditarod Trail between Elim and White Mountain earlier today.
Earlier today (at approximately 12 noon AKDT) Iditarod Race officials sent a plane from Nome to Shaktoolik to pick up scratched musher Alan Peck’s dog team. On the flight back to Nome the aircraft encountered significant turbulence. By the time the pilot was able to land in Golovin, it was discovered that one of the dogs (Cirque, a 2 year-old female) was deceased.
2013 Iditarod – RIP Dorado
A dog that died in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race asphyxiated while getting buried in snow during severe wind, officials said Saturday. Dorado belonged to rookie musher Paige Drobny’s team. The dog was dropped from the race Monday and was being cared for in an area set up to car for dogs dropped from the race.
2015 Iditarod – RIP Stuart, Wyatt, Stiffy
An Iditarod sled dog was struck and killed by a car in Midtown Anchorage on Saturday night, nearly seven hours after breaking away from his team during the ceremonial start for the race. The dog, a 3-year-old black husky mix named Stuart, belonged to the team of Colorado musher Lachlan Clarke.
A 3-year-old sled dog named Wyatt, in the team of Lance Mackey, died early Thursday afternoon on the 119-mile trip from Tanana to Ruby, according to Iditarod Race Marshal Mark Nordman.
A second sled dog on the team of four-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey has died on the trail, race officials say. A 3-year-old male husky named Stiffy expired at about 5:15 p.m. as Mackey, 44, traveled from Elim to the White Mountain, according to Race Marshal Mark Nordman.
2016 Iditarod – RIP Nash
A snowmachiner says he was driving drunk when he hit two dog teams racing in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday, killing one dog and injuring several others. The snowmachine hit King’s team, according to a press release from the Iditarod Trail Committee, resulting in the death of 3-year-old Nash and non-life-threatening injuries to two others: 2-year-old Banjo and 3-year-old Crosby. A dog in Zirkle’s team also received a non-life-threatening injury.
2017 Iditarod – RIP Deacon, Smoke, Groovey, Flash, Shilling
A 2-year-old male dog named Deacon, running on Sterling musher Seth Barnes’ team, died outside Galena late Thursday night, Iditarod officials reported. A report from the race said the dog died at ‘approximately 11:40 p.m. … just prior to Barnes’ arrival at the Galena checkpoint.
A second dog has died in the 2017 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Smoke, a 2-year-old on the team of Willow musher Scott Smith, was being transported from Galena to Anchorage late Friday when he ‘died unexpectedly,’ according to a news release from race officials. Smith had dropped Smoke in Manley Hot Springs on Tuesday due to a wrist injury.
A 3-year-old dog dropped during this year’s race  was reportedly hit and killed by a vehicle in Anchorage after escaping from his handler’s home, according to Iditarod race marshall Mark Nordman. The dog, Groovey, was a member of John Baker’s dog team.
At approximately 1 a.m. this morning, Flash, a four-year-old male from the race team of Katherine Keith (bib #52), collapsed in harness and died shortly thereafter. The incident occurred about ten miles prior to Katherine’s arrival in Koyuk.
An Iditarod musher’s sled dog collapsed and died shortly before his team arrived at Unalakleet checkpoint Wednesday morning. Shilling, a 3-year-old male dog on the team of rookie musher [Air Force lieutenant colonel] Roger Lee, died about 10 miles before the checkpoint, according to a statement by the Iditarod Trail Committee.