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Iditarod TV Series Features Injuries, Illness, and Sarah Palin

By September 23, 2008

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A musher being pulled by a team of dogs in the 1999 Iditarod.
Photo by Ezra O. Shaw / Allsports.

A new documentary series on the Discovery Channel that follows several teams in the Iditarod sled dog race premiers on October 14. Arguably the only socially acceptable form of dog cruelty in the United States, the Iditarod is a race in which teams of dogs pull human mushers who whip them as they run more than 1,000 miles over ice and snow in Alaska. Filmed in March, the series includes Gov. Sarah Palin introducing the race.

At least 136 dogs have died in the Iditarod.

The program highlights on the Discovery Channel website is disappointing. Not once are the cruelty or the controversy mentioned. The highlights do mention at least two teams that suffer setbacks due to illness or injury to the dogs.

What can you do about the Iditarod? Boycott the the sponsors of the race.

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September 23, 2008 at 5:08 pm
(1) Leslie says:

Please do your OWN research before you tout the Iditarod as being cruel to dogs. These dogs run because they love to run. Take a trip down a trail with a musher and see if you don’t change your mind about the race.

October 4, 2008 at 5:21 am
(2) Joanne says:

Greyhounds love to run as well and look what happens to them when they “retire”…they die! These dogs may love to pull but they are overworked and have died! Do your own research..they evolved, no, they were bred to be what they are are because people wanted that. The weak ones with flexible backs died, and they are now a breed built for pulling. My ancestors were built for having babies..and uh, does that mean i should bear 20 children?

October 4, 2008 at 7:55 pm
(3) Matt says:

For the love of all that is holy, Joanne, please do not have children. Please impose the same rules on yourselves that you AR people want to push onto animals and go into extinction.

October 8, 2008 at 8:20 pm
(4) Rocky says:

As a former dog musher, it always appauls me to listen to animal rights activists talk about sled dogs. Ignorance is not an excuse when you don’t even take the time to research. The dogs are not whipped and there are vets at every checkpoint. They eat better than most humans with more attention paid to their health needs than you can imagine. Please stop the foolish babble. All athletes can die. THEY ARE ATHLETES!

October 8, 2008 at 8:25 pm
(5) Doris Lin says:

Rocky and Leslie, do you dispute this quote:

“Denis Christman passed on a piece of advice that he had gotten from Bill Taylor years earlier. Never let the dogs see the whip until you are actually going to use it. Hide it, but always have it with you.”

- Welch, Jim. The Speed Mushing Manual, Eagle River: Sirus Publishing, 1990 (from http://www.helpsleddogs.org/remarks-crueldogtraining.htm#beaten)

October 9, 2008 at 5:02 pm
(6) Rocky says:

Doris, I don’t dispute the past. Heck, we had slavery and alot of other horrible things in the past. I’m just asking that you read the rules and do a little research. You will find alot of useful information that might be helpful before commenting. Again, get the facts, then make your opinion known. It’s sensless babble without knowledge.

February 11, 2009 at 4:06 pm
(7) Bruce Deile says:

Thank you very much for pointing this out. The Discovery Channel program was meant to glorify and romanticize this horrible race. What’s behind it, gambling? For the dogs to run the fastest time of 8-9 days from Wasilla to Nome, they have to *average* 130 miles/day. Fastest human on the Appalachian Trail (Georgia to Maine) *averaged* 43 miles/day. And they were running, had assistance teams along the way, and were not packing (or pulling like the dogs). 130 miles/day is too much! Recreational dog mushing: excellent for the dogs. Competitive mushing: horrible.

March 24, 2009 at 2:44 pm
(8) Bruce Deile says:

Associated Press Sports
updated 10:27 a.m. PT, Tues., March. 24, 2009

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -A sixth dog in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race has died.

March 24, 2009 at 3:42 pm
(9) animalrights says:

Thanks for the heads-up, Bruce! I just updated my blog post about the deaths in this year’s Iditarod.

March 24, 2009 at 3:42 pm
(10) Bruce Deile says:

Actually, 1150 miles at 8-9 miles/day = 135 miles/day average (I stated before 130 miles/ day average). That’s way too many miles to force dogs to run.

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