The 40th Iditarod

Friday, March 09, 2012

It’s the time of year when Alaskans proudly cheer, volunteer, and race in the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Stretching 1,049 miles, the race features teams of 12 to 16 dogs, led by a musher. This year is the race’s 40th anniversary. Early this morning the first teams crossed the half-way point in the race.

Andy Angstman is a superfan of the Iditarod and a musher since childhood. He participated in the race in 2007. He joins us from Achorage, Alaska.

Guests:

Andy Angstman

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [2]

Margery Glickman from Florida

For the dogs, the Iditarod dog sled race is a bottomless pit of suffering. What happens to dogs during the Iditarod includes death, bloody diarrhea, paralysis, frostbite (where it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, kennel cough, broken bones, torn muscles and extreme stress. At least 142 dogs have died in the race, including two dogs who froze to death in the brutally cold winds.

Veterinary care during the Iditarod is poor. Here's just one example: Veterinarians have allowed dogs with kennel cough to race in the Iditarod even though dogs with this disease should be kept warm and given lots of rest. It's dangerous for the dogs with this disease to exercise with any intensity. Strenuous exercise can cause lung damage, pneumonia and even death. Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease that normally lasts from 10 to 21 days.

Iditarod dogs are beaten into submission. Jane Stevens, a former Iditarod dog handler, describes a dog beating in her letter published by the Whitehorse Star (Feb. 23, 2011). She wrote: "I witnessed the extremely violent beating of an Iditarod racing dog by one of the racing industry's most high-profile top 10 mushers. Be assured the beating was clearly not within an 'acceptable range' of 'discipline'. Indeed, the scene left me appalled, sick and shocked. After viewing an individual sled dog repeatedly booted with full force, the male person doing the beating jumping back and forth like a pendulum with his full body weight to gain full momentum and impact. He then alternated his beating technique with full-ranging, hard and fast, closed-fist punches like a piston to the dog as it was held by its harness splayed onto the ground. He then staggeringly lifted the dog by the harness with two arms above waist height, then slammed the dog into the ground with full force, again repeatedly, all of this repeatedly."

During the 2007 race, 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."

Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, "Nagging a dog team is cruel and ineffective...A training device such as a whip is not cruel at all but is effective." He also said, "It is a common training device in use among dog mushers..." Former Iditarod dog handler Mike Cranford wrote in Alaska's Bush Blade Newspaper: "Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don't pull are dragged to death in harnesses....."

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Sled Dog Action Coalition, http://www.helpsleddogs.org

Mar. 09 2012 05:54 PM
jane from MPLS

More Iditarod coverage from Andy, please!

Mar. 09 2012 10:08 AM

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