Sled Dogs Are Exempt From Animal Cruelty Laws In Alaska

Every year since 1973, during Alaska’s 1,000-mile Iditarod race in early March, hundreds of dogs are forced into a state-sanctioned nightmare.

The Iditarod has long been controversial for its treatment of sled dogs. They’re whipped and driven to run more than 100 miles a day, often in darkness, through heavy wind and extreme, subzero cold.

Sled dogs are forced to run in sub-zero temperatures during the Iditarod race.

Sled dogs are forced to run in sub-zero temperatures during the Iditarod race.

And while the power to keep those dogs safe lies with the State of Alaska, exemptions are actually in place precluding the dogs from protection under animal cruelty laws, the Sled Dog Action Coalition reports.

Hardly an Iditarod has been held in which a dog did not die.

At least one dog has died in each Iditarod race since 1973.

At least one dog has died in each Iditarod race since 1973.

In almost all of the Iditarod races, at least one dog death has occurred. According to the Sled Dog Action Coalition, at least 147 dogs have died in the history of the race, with 15 to 19 falling dead from overwork in the very first, in 1973. At least 107 dogs were dead after the 1997 race, and in 2009, five dogs died, leaving local veterinarians and animal rights workers helpless to do anything but watch.

Throughout the years, dogs have been struck and killed by snowmachines and snowmobiles. Others are worked so hard that they spit up intestinal fluids, which are just as quickly inhaled, leading to “aspiration induced pneumonia.”

At least 107 dogs were dead after the 1997 race.

At least 107 dogs were dead after the 1997 Iditarod race.

The dogs that aren’t killed by machines are killed by the effects of hyperexhaustion as they burn over 12,000 calories a day, for 9 straight days or longer, writes Craig Medred. Their bodies are later tossed into the dump.

Five dogs died during the 2009 Iditarod race.

Five dogs died during the 2009 Iditarod race.

“That first race (1973), from Anchorage to McGrath, all you could see along the trail was dog blood and dead dogs,” said McGrath, AK resident Ted Almasy. “That’s when I got into it with them. After each Iditarod, we used to see dead dogs at the dump. You’d see them poor dogs, blood coming out of both ends.”

This is not how these dogs deserve to live.

Click below and tell the Governor of Alaska to remove the clause exempting competition sled dogs from its animal cruelty laws.

Dog Escaped Doggie Daycare and Kept Ringing the Doorbell to Tell His Parents He Was Home: Click “Next” below!

Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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