Iditarod dogs face unthinkable suffering — you can help

The 2011 Iditarod begins March 5.

Like dog fighting, dog sled racing is not a sport in which an animal chooses to take part. The conditions are brutal – unbearable cold, grueling physical demands, sleep deprivation. Yet each year, about a thousand dogs are forced to train for and participate in Alaska’s Iditarod. And each year, a number of dogs are maimed, whipped, trampled, and left to die.

Imagine suffering a torn muscle — and then being dragged for miles across jagged ice. Imagine losing the ability to urinate due to frostbite. Imagine being forced to “perform” with broken bones, bleeding ulcers, and pneumonia. Imagine frequent and severe beatings. Imagine freezing to death in temperatures of -50 degrees F.

If you’ve been told that the Huskies bred to sled race love the competition, check out the website and discover the truth about what goes on during and in preparation for the Iditarod. If you’re sick enough to take action, keep reading.

Sharon Eaton Allen, of Dogs Deserve Better, has posted the below email addresses for race sponsors and organizers, along with the sample letter provided, on her Facebook page. Emails are even broken out into bite-size chunks that most mail servers can handle. Please… contact the folks below, withhold support from sponsors of this cruel activity, and alert others to the reality of the Iditarod. (You can also write to Susan Lucci, Charles Gibson, and Joan Rivers, celebrities who support the race, and whose addresses are included at the very bottom of this post.)

“Most Internet service providers allow people to send up to 40 email addresses at a time. For your convenience, the addresses have been divided into groups of 40. Please email the first group first. Individual email addresses are given under the sample letter. The groups contain addresses for the 2011 Iditarod sponsors, promoters, and musher sponsors. Email groups with semicolons and commas are on People and organizations who support the  lditarod may deny it or give misleading statements about their involvement. The Sled Dog Action Coalition has documentation to prove what it says and will provide it upon request.”



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Susan Lucci 

All My Children 


77 W. 66th St. 

New York, NY 10023 


Charles Gibson 

Good Morning America 


77 W. 66th St. 

New York, NY 10023 


Joan Rivers 

Comcast Corp. (E! Entertainment) 

1500 Market Street 

Philadelphia, PA 19102-2148 

Phone: 1-800-326-6228 

Email: [email protected]

SAMPLE LETTER (Please personalize)

Dear Iditarod Supporter:

For the dogs, the Iditarod dog sled race is a bottomless pit of suffering. Please end your organization’s support of this event. Imagine the suffering dogs endure while racing 1,000 miles in the Iditarod with wind-chill factors as low as minus 50 °F, battered by hurricane force winds, over slippery ice, down steep gorges with drops of hundreds of feet, and through icy water with little or no rest. At least 142 dogs have died in the Iditarod, including two dogs on a doctor’s team who froze to death in the brutally cold winds. What happens to dogs during the race includes death, paralysis, frostbite (where it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, broken bones, torn muscles and tendons and sprains. For more facts, visit the Sled Dog Action Coalition website, .

According to the Jan-Feb 2010 Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, dogs running in the Iditarod have substantially decreased numbers of antibodies in their systems. Without an adequate number of antibodies, a dog can’t fight off infections.

The dogs are even at terrible risk while resting on straw that’s been provided by the Iditarod. An Iditarod musher reported that foxtails are sometimes found in the straw. When foxtail grass drys out and becomes straw, the seed detaches easily and sticks to a dog’s fur. Foxtail seeds enter a dog’s body through the skin, nose, ears, paws, and eyes.  And once they enter, they’re like a barbed fishhook. A foxtail can go anywhere inside a dog. They have been found inside the brain, anal glands, eyes, ears, jowls, feet, spinal cord and lungs. Foxtail seeds can be life-threatening to dogs.

Dog beatings and whippings are common. During the 2007 Iditarod, eyewitnesses reported that musher Ramy Brooks kicked, punched and beat his dogs with a ski pole and a chain. Jon Saraceno wrote in his column in USA Today, “He [Colonel Tom Classen] confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their most advantageous racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens. Or dragging them to their death.”

During the race, veterinarians do not give the dogs physical exams at every checkpoint. Mushers speed through many checkpoints, so the dogs get the briefest visual checks, if that. Instead of pulling sick dogs from the race, veterinarians frequently give them massive doses of antibiotics to keep them running. The Iditarod’s chief veterinarian, Stu Nelson, is an employee of the Iditarod Trail Committee. They are the ones who sign his paycheck. So, do you expect that he’s going to say anything negative about the Iditarod?

During training runs, Iditarod dogs have been killed by moose, snowmachines, and various motor vehicles, including a semi tractor and an ATV. They have died from drowning, heart attacks and being strangled in harnesses. Dogs have also been injured while training. They have been gashed, quilled by porcupines, bitten in dog fights, and had broken bones, and torn muscles and tendons. Most dog deaths and injuries during training aren’t even reported.

Please end your organization’s association with this horrific race.