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Attention animal lovers. 'Iditarod Deaths Stain Race’s Reputation.'

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chaska Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 02:39 PM
Original message
Attention animal lovers. 'Iditarod Deaths Stain Race’s Reputation.'
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/04/03/277 /

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Their feet become bruised, bloodied, cut by ice and just plain worn out because of the vast distances they cover. Many dogs pull muscles, tendons and ligaments, rupture discs, incur stress fractures and become sick with bloody diarrhea, dehydration, intestinal viruses or bleeding stomach ulcers. Dogs have been strangled by tow lines, trampled by moose and hit by snowmobiles and sleds. One dog in this year’s race became lost in a snowstorm and was missing for 11 days.

At least 133 dogs have died in the Iditarod since records started being kept—and that doesn’t include dogs who die in training or after the race ends. One dog in this year’s race died of “acute pneumonia” and another from internal bleeding from a ruptured ulcer, two common causes of death for Iditarod dogs. According to the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 61 percent of the dogs who finish the Iditarod have developed gastric ulcers. The study’s authors concluded that the ulcers are caused by “sustained strenuous exercise.” Dogs suffering from ulcers may bleed to death or choke to death after regurgitating and then inhaling their own vomit.

On average, more than half of the dogs who start the race don’t make it across the finish line and 81 percent of those who do finish have lung damage, according to a report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Sick or injured dogs are frequently given massive amounts of medication to keep them running. Mushers often spend just minutes at checkpoints, making it impossible for veterinarians to give the dogs thorough physical exams.


The cause of death for the dog belonging to Ramy Brooks has yet to be determined, but it is likely that her death was a direct result of being forced to run too far too fast. Brooks reportedly beat his team after they lay down on an ice field and refused to go any further. Iditarod apologists describe the beatings as “spankings,” but this euphemism implies that the dogs had done something to deserve being whacked with a stick (and kicked and punched, as some witnesses allege), when in all likelihood they were simply too exhausted to go any further.

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jilln Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 02:42 PM
Response to Original message
1. Did it ever have a good reputation?
Pushing dogs beyond their physical limits in a race that gets longer and harder every year, keeping them in substandard conditions, all for prize money only the human enjoys... it's a sick event.

If people want to pull sleds in a race they should do so, and leave the dogs out of it.
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 02:44 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Well, saving untold numbers of Inuit children...
...from diptheria has always struck me as a pretty good thing.
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RoseMead Donating Member (953 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 02:48 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. You're referring to the event the race commemorates, right?
The race itself is another matter, unless they're still using it to transport medicines to sick children.
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 02:55 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Indeed.
And marathon runners don't fight a battle with Persians before the race anymore either, but the idea that the course gets longer every year is nonsense.
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jilln Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 03:05 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. If nonsense means facts, you're right.
Every year is an exaggeration, true. But the original 20-day course is now down to 8 days, and it is longer.

Oh, and the race has killed 133 dogs to date. But if you're the kind of person who thinks commemorating a once-useful purpose for the "race" is a good reason to kill 133 dogs, we have no more to say to each other.

And I'm not reading any of your replies. I'm familiar with your arguing technique - you just claim that everyone agrees with you and supports your nonsense when it's clearly not the case. I'm not playing this time.
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 03:10 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. From wiki...
This route is a grueling one. While always longer than 1,000 miles (1,584 km), the trail is actually composed of a northern route, which is run on even-numbered years, and a southern route, which is run on odd-numbered years. Both follow the same trail for 444 miles (715 km), from Anchorage to Ophir, where they diverge and then rejoin at Kaltag, 441 miles (710 km) from Nome. The race used the northern route until 1977, when the southern route was added to distribute the impact of the event on the small villages in the area, none of which have more than a few hundred inhabitants. Passing through the historic town of Iditarod was a secondary benefit.

Aside from the addition of the southern route, the route has remained relatively constant. The largest changes were the addition of the restart location in 1975, and the shift from Ptarmigan to Rainy Pass in 1976. Checkpoints along the route are also occasionally added or dropped, and the ceremonial start of the route and the restart point are commonly adjusted due to weather.

As a result the exact measured distance of the race varies, but according to the official website the northern route is 1,112 miles (1,790 km) long, and the southern route is 1,131 miles (1820 km) long (ITC, Southern & Northern). The length of the race is also frequently rounded to either 1,050, 1,100, or 1,150 miles (1690, 1770 or 1850 km), but is officially set at 1,049 miles (1688 km), which honors Alaska's status as the 49th state.

(my emphasis added)
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RoseMead Donating Member (953 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 04:43 PM
Response to Reply #5
11. I wasn't aware that more than 100 marathon runners had died
as a result of running marathons. Silly me. :eyes:

Of course, even if they did, the comparison is still off, since human marathon runners choose to run those races, while the sled dogs do not have a choice of whether to run the race in question. And yes, I know the dogs love to pull sleds, just like racehorces love to run, but it's one thing to pull a sled under normal conditions, and quite another to be racing in extreme conditions.

The original run in 1925 was heroic, because it was necessary. The race is not.

BTW, I never said anything about the length of the race.However, imho whatever the length, it's too long if it is resulting in the deaths of the racing dogs.

Commemorating an the saving of children in 1925 by killing sled dogs 100 years later just makes no sense to me.
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 04:49 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. You weren't?
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RoseMead Donating Member (953 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 05:16 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. So cute the way you pick out part of my post and ignore the rest
"...even if they did, the comparison is still off, since human marathon runners choose to run those races, while the sled dogs do not have a choice of whether to run the race in question. And yes, I know the dogs love to pull sleds, just like racehorces love to run, but it's one thing to pull a sled under normal conditions, and quite another to be racing in extreme conditions."

No comment on that? Why not?

To the best of my knowledge, humans are the only animals that will willingly push themselves to the point of death in the name of sport. And if human marathon runners choose to run those races, and they die because of it, that's their choice. But what choice do these dogs have? Do you have an answer to that?

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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 05:22 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. Well, if you really want me too...
"Of course, even if they did, the comparison is still off, since human marathon runners choose to run those races, while the sled dogs do not have a choice of whether to run the race in question. And yes, I know the dogs love to pull sleds, just like racehorces love to run, but it's one thing to pull a sled under normal conditions, and quite another to be racing in extreme conditions."

Sled dogs love to pull sleds, runners love to run marathons. Sled dogs don't volunteer to die during the race, but I'm pretty sure runners don't volunteer to die during marathons. So who decides whether or not the dog wants to be there? The owner, that's who. And I'm quite sure they love their dogs a lot more then you do. What about abusive owners you ask? Well, that's why the racers are carefully monitored.

"The original run in 1925 was heroic, because it was necessary. The race is not."

Somebody, who apparently didn't know anything about the race, asked if it ever had a good reputation to begin with. And yes, yes it did.

"BTW, I never said anything about the length of the race.However, imho whatever the length, it's too long if it is resulting in the deaths of the racing dogs."

Should we cut marathons down too?

"Commemorating an the saving of children in 1925 by killing sled dogs 100 years later just makes no sense to me."

Well then by all means, don't participate in it.
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Maine-ah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 05:32 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. can we start beating marathon runners then, when they
stop from exhaustion? That just might make it more interesting. Maybe someone following them with a stick to give them a "spanking" when they slow down :evilgrin:

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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 05:57 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. You can always pat them on the ass.
:P

Although if you remember the one that moved their bowels on national TV due to exhaustion shortly before crossing the finish line, you might not want to.

(this may or may not be an urban legend, I never saw it myself.)
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RoseMead Donating Member (953 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 06:30 PM
Response to Reply #17
21. "Should we cut marathons down too?"
Well, yeah, if people are so routinely dropping dead from running them, maybe we should. On the other hand, if *people* want to make the decision to possibly harm or kill *themselves* in the name of sport, I'd say that's their choice. The dogs, again, have *no* choice, and they aren't doing this to themselves. Nowhere have I seen anything to suggest that the owners wanted to slow down or stop, but the dogs just insisted on running until they died.

I don't know how much these owners love their dogs, or whether they love them more than I do or not. I do, however,know I love my own pets enough that I wouldn't put them at risk in an attempt to win a sporting event.

And, again, loving to run and pull sleds does not equal loving to run and pull sleds for a thousand miles in extreme conditions.
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jilln Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 02:59 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Like that couldn't be achieved some other way?
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 03:08 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. In 1925?
Well, the two planes that happened to have been in Alaska at the time were dismantled.

And there's Hirshberg's famous bike ride, but that would have taken even longer.
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montanacowboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 02:42 PM
Response to Original message
2. I have always thought this was animal abuse
it's all about the ego of the people; the pads of dog's feet are not meant for this; I hope it is ended once and for all
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damntexdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 03:46 PM
Response to Original message
10. Big f_ing deal!
They're sled dogs. It's what they do.

My chowski would love to be able to pull a sled -- but it's just not likely to happen in Texas.
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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 04:46 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. But would you let yours keep going until it got hurt, sick or died?
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Holly_Hobby Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 05:11 PM
Response to Original message
14. I despise idiotic sh** like this that harms innocent animals
Edited on Thu Apr-05-07 05:15 PM by Holly_Hobby
and so does my vet - he volunteers every year to care for the dogs at the check points. It's no better than horse racing or greyhound racing.

Sure, northern dogs were bred to pull sleds. So let them pull you to the tavern in town and home again, not 1,100 g** d*** miles.

Not to mention, they're chained to wooden dog houses all summer long.
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karlrschneider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 05:14 PM
Response to Original message
15. You mean you don't know those dogs want to run hundreds of miles and die?
What's wrong with you?
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Robb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-05-07 05:46 PM
Response to Original message
19. Oh, for the love of Pete.
"Dogs have been strangled by tow lines, trampled by moose and hit by snowmobiles and sleds."

I promise you more dogs die that way every year up north outside of the Race. Ignorant article by someone who's never taken their own boots off the pavement... which frankly I could say as well about most of the responses upthread.

The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine study actually says:

"Bronchoscopy and bronchoalveolar lavage was conducted in elite racing sled dogs 24 to 48 hours after completion of a 1,100-mile endurance race. Bronchoscopic abnormalities were classified as none, mild, moderate, or severe, based on the quantity and distribution of intralumenal debris. Eighty-one percent of the dogs (48 of 59) examined had abnormal accumulations of intralumenal debris, with 46% (27 of 59) classified as moderate or severe, indicating significant accumulation of exudate."

It was a ski asthma study, quite interesting. Although I probably lost most with that one.

"Iditarod apologists" is another great line. The only one who ever said "spankings" was Brooks. Brooks about got beaten up by the other mushers, and will likely never run another race for losing it on the dogs. He'll be lucky if he gets to live in the same country.

Iditarod's too long for me. For my money the Beargrease is a better length. But I also will never ride Dakar.

Having a northern breed that never gets to pull is like keeping a Ferrari parked in the driveway and only taking it to and from the pool on Sunday. The critters are built to go.

You want to find real sled dog abuse, look outside the Iditarod, not inside it.

Of course, what do I know. I'm dead, after all.
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