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Old 03-02-2014, 12:55 PM   #1
 
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Default iditarod race in alaska/ cruel or not?

I am in a heated debate on FB with my friends in Alaska. I say it is very cruel to run dogs over 1,000 miles in that severe weather. The purse this year is worth over $600,000 and a new truck. Please post your feelings/facts about this and help me debate it!

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Old 03-02-2014, 01:39 PM   #2
 
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Those dogs were bred to do that maybe not for money but as means for transport for the peoples that created the breed. I'm sure they get breaks as well and I bet they're pets when they aren't racing
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Old 03-02-2014, 02:35 PM   #3
 
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Given the information I've gotten over the years, the dogs really do enjoy running. And some humans will drop out to care for their dogs if any ill-health or injuries occur. However, their paws have to be protected properly.

My natural inclination is to dislike the idea, but having come to adopt a natural puller (pit bull), I do think some dogs get a lot of joy out of running long distances with attached weight. Not sure what PETA would say, and I would like to have their input before saying "I don't think it's cruel."
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Old 03-02-2014, 03:06 PM   #4
 
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I do not see a large problem with the race, as long as the owners are keeping a close watch. While you can not guarantee that every person would do as they should, I would not assume that all would run their animals into the ground. Often the dogs are a large part of the owners way of life and incredibly important to them.

I also agree that this is what the dogs are born to do. Yes, perhaps not in a race sense, but I would think it would be a little crueler to not let them enjoy the natures of their breed.
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Old 03-02-2014, 04:13 PM   #5
 
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The Iditarod kills dogs just about every year; the total known is 143. Dog deaths average about three per race. Six dogs died in 2009.



About half the dogs do not finish the race. The dogs are dropped due to injury, illness, exhaustion, or not wanting to continue. No musher finishes with all 16 of their dogs and some finish with only 7 dogs.


It is cruel to have such a long, (the distance from Maine to Florida) treacherous, unnecessary race when over half the dogs cannot finish, at the proven risk of injury, exhaustion, or death.


When the dogs are not racing or training they are each kept on a short chain, attached to their small enclosure, not able to play or interact with their kennel mates. This is considered inhumane and illegal in many communities.


People should boycott this race and contact the sponsors to stop their sponsorship.
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Old 03-02-2014, 06:46 PM   #6
 
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Points taken.

Thank you for that disturbing information; my opinion has changed.
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Old 03-02-2014, 08:30 PM   #7
 
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That is good information. It prompted me to look for some more information. The articles I came across said 136 dogs had passed (as of 2013) since the race was extended in 1973 to pay tribute to the infamous diphtheria med run. Some of the wording made me look a little harder, because it suggested a portion of those deaths may not have been race related. A large number are freak accidents. Dogs being hit by snow mobiles or any number of ailments that take a dogs life on any given day. The rest have been race related. Being caught out in cold temperatures for extended periods of time with the musher, illness as a result of falling through ice (though that is a common for dogs that live in cold areas, but they do not race afterward). They do have Vets on standby. Numerous check points, and 3 mandatory extended rest breaks. Also, if a person has ever been charged with animal cruelty, they can not enter the race and/or are immediately disqualified if cruelty takes place during the race. This year they are supposed to place shelters for the animals at the check points. They have never had those before. The dogs have remained outside during breaks/rests.

I read many sentiments that the race should be halted all together. I still do not agree with that. In 1973 around 450 dogs were in the race. I would say the average number of dogs is perhaps higher now. While I hate that any animal lost it's life, 3 out of hundreds is not really shocking, especially when you add in the accidents. I simply do not think you remove something all together because there is a risk. Risks are present every day, for animals and humans. I also do not agree that these dogs should not mush, period. Again, it is what they were bred for. I would like to see the race shortened. It went from 50 miles to 1000+. Surely there is a compromise.
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Old 03-02-2014, 09:05 PM   #8
 
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I always have to read more when PETA is involved. I find they use a great deal of vague lingo.

Another point or two... PETA also takes issue with the fact that mushers are given permission to defend themselves and their dogs against aggressive wild animals during the race. At times I really respect and support PETA and at times we can not even remotely see eye to eye. This is one of many. Some mushers have been injured or caught when a brutal storm came in. Yes, they should have the right to defend themselves and their dogs in those situations. To me, that is a no brainer. To PETA, it is a reason to stop the race all together and keep people out of the wild, period. Not going to happen. If they had their way on hunting issues, more animals would die each year due to over population of both them and humans. Their worlds collided very often accidentally as is it.

In one of the articles I read the fact that some people who live in rural areas in Alaska have (to be kind and not get vivid) ended their dogs suffering themselves came up. This was being used to judge, which is another issue where PETA makes me fume. If you are in a situation where your animal is horribly sick, past any help, and you are hours from a vet or even days depending on their hours, and your animal is greatly suffering... Then we will talk. Do not forget that vet services were not a common at one point, and they still are not an easily accessible common for some. Ending the suffering, just as a vet would do but by another method, does not make them horrible human beings. What this has to do with the race I am not 100% sure. I think there were claims made about a group that worked with the race dogs some time ago.
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:44 PM   #9
 
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I've been following this race for years and really enjoy it. I've known people who race locally and both the humans and dogs love it. Granted, it certainly not as long as Iditarod, but it's pretty challenging. One of my neighbors who raced sleds used to practice with one of my dogs who was way too big to race but LOVED to pull.
I'm sure there are exceptions, but I think most of the dogs are very well taken care of and consider this their 'job'. These dogs are family and are also worth varying degrees of money, so they wouldn't often be neglected. Some do die on the trail, tho. It's going to happen.
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Old 03-06-2014, 09:11 AM   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CurlyCutie1394 View Post
Those dogs were bred to do that maybe not for money but as means for transport for the peoples that created the breed. I'm sure they get breaks as well and I bet they're pets when they aren't racing
Bc sometimes there's no choice but travel thru the snow by dog sled. But nowadays there usually are other choices. I don't understand why ppl would subject their "pets" to that...or even themselves...for the sake of sport.
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Old 03-06-2014, 06:18 PM   #11
 
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Well, I'm sure this isn't what you mean, and I don't want to defend a sport that hurts animals, but I know my dog would love pulling if we tried it.

I guess I wish the race wasn't so long, and so grueling.
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Old 03-06-2014, 06:40 PM   #12
 
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^ That I can agree with, though I do understand wanting to keep the memory of The Great Race of Mercy alive.

When it comes to those who want the race to stop all together because there is a risk, and something might happen, I take a moment to ponder what would have happened if people had that mindset in 1925.

I am sure the dogs so love pulling in general. They served a very important purpose before snowmobiles did away with their jobs 50+ years ago. The pup's do love service related tasks, and they excel at them.
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Old 03-06-2014, 07:03 PM   #13
 
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I wonder if they have avoided having shelters for the dogs at previous races to keep them tough. Sled dogs are typically arctic breeds, many descended from arctic wolves. Like arctic wolves, they don't typically freeze to death in Alaska. They do just fine. Sled dogs actually need more pampering in the summer due to their incredibly thick coats.

I have read stories where wolves who escaped from captivity died in the cold. They are not knowledgable of their ways, natural instincts and survival skills. That kills them quicker. It would make sense that the same could happen with sled dogs.
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Old 03-07-2014, 08:35 AM   #14
 
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I think of Balto when I think Iditarod Race.

I also think of the guy who was training his dogs for that race and was attacked by a bear and saved by one of his dogs.

As far as it being cruel. I really think it depends on the person taking part in it. Some people probably just do it for the fame/money, while others truly care for their animals. If they are trained properly, given proper food/warmth/breaks, I don't think it is cruel. If they aren't, then yes I think it is. Honestly, I don't know much about it though.
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Old 03-07-2014, 09:19 AM   #15
 
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By coincidence one of my oldest friends, K, just sent me this photo. This is a current pic of a musher in the Iditarod race. K met her and her dogs last year when she was in Alaska. She has come in 2nd two times now.

As an aside, I love her coat.
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iditarod race in alaska/ cruel or not?-dogsled.jpg  
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Old 03-07-2014, 11:28 AM   #16
 
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Maybe I should get one of those plastic disc sleds and attach Mia's leash to the front. I'm sure we'll wipe out a lot at first. And I'll be giggling.

I hate the idea of entering my pets in any kind of competition. Well, perhaps loudest snoring?
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Old 03-12-2014, 07:19 PM   #17
 
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those dogs are bred for that. They aren't your regular everyday house pets.
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Old 03-12-2014, 08:56 PM   #18
 
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The musher I pictured above came in 2nd place again. She came in 2 minutes behind the winner. 2 minutes!
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