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Old 03-22-2009, 03:13 AM   #1

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Dog Deaths on Iditarod Abuse? Accident?

Iditarod dog sled race ordeal raises cries of animal cruelty
6 hours ago
WASILLA, Alaska Conditions were fine last Sunday afternoon, as rookie Iditarod musher Lou Packer left a checkpoint halfway through the gruelling wilderness race.
What happened next has drawn renewed attention to animal rights advocates' claim that the more than 1,770-kilometre trek through Alaska is cruel to the dogs who lead competitors' sleds.
One of the few mushers travelling alone at the time, Packer ran smack into a blizzard.
"It's really hard not to start crying," the 55-year-old Wasilla doctor said in an interview Thursday at the urgent care clinic he owns. "I really loved those dogs and I felt like I let them down."
The wind picked up, whipping snow into huge mounds and burying trail markers. Cooking food for his sled dogs was a challenge, but he managed. He also put coats on the animals.
The weather got worse. Snow was waist deep and temperatures plunged to almost 50 below zero. It became almost impossible to move against a wind that Packer described as "a semi tractor-trailer passing you at 80 miles an hour (130 km/h)." Still, he kept looking for protection for his team.
Back home, his wife Ellen Varosi monitored his lack of progress through the satellite tracker shown on the Iditarod's website. She knew her husband was leading the dogs because the tracker would show his slow speed and then long bouts of inactivity.
"I knew something was critically wrong," Varosi said.
Race officials sent out search parties to look for Packer and two other struggling teams, and a pilot spotted the doctor and his dogs. He was rescued more than a day after he set out - but not before he had lost two of his 15 animals.
One dog, Grasshopper, began to falter. He became lethargic, his eyes rolling back in his head. Packer wrapped the dog in his parka and placed it in the sled.
"He got worse and worse and worse," he said, his eyes shiny with tears. "I just watched him die. It was awful. There was nothing I could do. It was horrible. It was just horrible to watch."

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Old 03-22-2009, 05:54 AM   #2
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That is really sad but I agree that they should not be doing this any more. It does seem a bit rediculous to put animals through this day and age.
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Old 03-22-2009, 01:41 PM   #3
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I think better precautions should be taken, and maybe not make it a race. But alaskan huskys, sibes, mals. all love to pull and run it was bred into them to do that. Its like telling a border collie he can't herd anymore. You will start to loose the that breeds special qualities, and risk loosing the breed forever.
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Old 03-22-2009, 06:33 PM   #4
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I think the tradition should stay alive...its tradition, something that the dogs are bred for. Its like saying no more agility competitions because some dogs get seriously hurt and can no longer we need to stop doing agility comps...OR Herding dogs, herding CATTLE and horses that one kick can KILL them instantly...this happens A ===A LOT=== no newspaper or internet article is going to cover the hundreds or more of dogs that are hit and kicked on a farm and die ...think about that!

When was the last time you heard about a dog being killed on a ranch? Or a hunting dog that was accidently shot by his owner in the field.

The Iditerod is a race to show the best of the best, these people train and work with their dogs, and are close with them...

They already try to make it extra safe with all the stops and medical check ups they have on the trail...its almost NOT a race anymore...

Accidents happen, to those that run the race, and they take that risk. What good is it for them if they run all their dogs to death? None whatsoever...Killing their best friend is something they will have to deal with in their heart. They know when they set off something could happen...they are the ones that have to live with that. They do the race for the love of the dogs, and the sport, and the challenge.

In short, let em mush on!
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Old 03-24-2009, 02:25 AM   #5

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Peta calls for investigation - Iditarod

PETA asks for investigation into sled dog deaths
2 hours ago
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) An animal rights group wants Alaska State Troopers to open a criminal investigation into the deaths this year of five Iditarod dogs, including two on the team of a musher who says they froze to death.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to trooper Col. Audie Halloway. In it, PETA urges him to determine if any of the four mushers whose dogs died in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race should be charged under the state's cruelty to animals law.
PETA director Debbie Leahy said in a prepared statement that the five dogs paid for the race with their lives, and "deserve justice."

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Old 03-24-2009, 01:41 PM   #6
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Shara said it best, they were born and bred to run and without competitions like this the breeds would die out.

The race is as safe as possible with the numerous rest stops and vet checks. The dogs get hot meals to keep them warm and well nurished. Animals and people can die at the hands of Mother Nature; a blizzard can be so severe that anyone could be hard pressed to survive. The competitors love the sport and their dogs just like you and I love our dogs. This was just an unfortunate situation that could not be predicted.

If I were a dog I would prefer to die doing something I loved as apposed to being tied up in a backyard or locked in a house (all safe and sound ) with little to no joy or purpose in my life.
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Old 03-24-2009, 04:33 PM   #7

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Sixth Iditarod sled dog reported dead

Staff Report
Published Monday, March 23, 2009

FAIRBANKS -- A sixth dog death has been reported by Iditarod officials.
At midday on Monday, 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.
The dogs were in good condition when loaded on the plane. A necropsy will be conducted.
Earlier in the race, dogs on the teams of Rick Larson, Warren Palfrey and Jeff Holt died. Two dogs died in Lou Packer's team when they were caught in a windstorm outside the ghost town of Iditarod.
Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have asked Alaska State Troopers to open a criminal investigation into the deaths this year of Iditarod sled dogs.

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Old 03-24-2009, 04:42 PM   #8

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Deaths of 2 dogs determined

2 dead Iditarod dogs had fluid in their lungs

Daily News staff and wire reports
Published: March 21st, 2009 02:53 PM
Last Modified: March 22nd, 2009 12:31 AM

Omen and Maynard, the two dogs that died late this week in the Iditarod, had fluid in their lungs, race marshal Mark Nordman reported Saturday.
Necropsies showed that both dogs had pulmonary edema, possibly because cardiac abnormalities prevented their hearts from moving fluid out of their lungs. Further tests are pending, Nordman reported.
Omen, a member of Rick Larson's team, died on the trail Friday. Maynard, a member of Warren Palfrey's team, died Thursday night.
Their deaths bring to five the number of animals that have died in this year's race, the most since five died in the 1997 race.
Also on Saturday, two other mushers scratched.
Aaron Peck of Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada pulled out of the race at the Elim checkpoint. Peck, 29, arrived in Elim on Friday afternoon with six dogs, but decided at about 9 a.m. Saturday he shouldn't take his team on, race officials said.
And David Sawatzky of Healy scratched late Saturday afternoon only a few miles from the finish in Nome. Sawatzky, 56, had about 15 dogs and was walking ahead of the team for several miles after leaving Safety before deciding to call it quits at about 5 p.m., officials said.

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Old 03-24-2009, 05:17 PM   #9
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Thats sad...but like it's been said before, these dogs are made for this and are miserable if they don't do it. Maybe some precautions can be taken but you know, most of these sledders really do care about their dogs. I know because my neighbor used to have a sled dog team when he was younger, they go through tough times together so an inevatible bond forms.

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Old 03-25-2009, 03:09 AM   #10
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i don't know but maybe they can put up shelters on the course for storms like this. it is a sad story.
rest in peace my little Nikko. until we meet again. momma misses you and her heart aches every time she thinks of you, wishing you were still here to play with Joey and Elsa.
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