Iditarod Sled Dog Race: 2 Dogs Dead, PETA Calls for Cancellation

Hank Debruin's Iditarod Sled Dog Race Siberian huskies running in snow.
(Photo Credit: Alaska Photography | Getty Images)

The iconic Iditarod sled dog race, known for its roughly 1,000-mile challenging trek across Alaska, faced a somber moment this past weekend as two dogs tragically lost their lives. This unfortunate incident has sparked renewed controversy around the event and prompted calls for its cancellation from animal rights organizations.

2 dogs died over the weekend during Iditarod sled dog race

The first dog, a 4-year-old named George, collapsed and died approximately 660 miles into the race on Sunday. Despite immediate efforts to revive him, the authorities couldn’t save George. An official statement from The Iditarod announced that a board-certified pathologist would conduct a necropsy to determine George’s cause of death.

The previous day, a 2-year-old dog named Bog had similarly collapsed just short of the checkpoint at Nulato. Despite 20 minutes of administered CPR, he could not survive. Initial necropsy results for Bog were inconclusive, with further tests pending to uncover the cause of his demise.

Both dogs were part of teams led by mushers Hunter Keefe and Issac Teaford, respectively. Following the unfortunate incidents, both mushers opted out of the race, adhering to Iditarod rules, which permit officials to disqualify participants if a dog’s death is not due to an unpreventable hazard.

This is not the first time the Iditarod has been under scrutiny. In the past, the race has seen disqualifications and other issues related to the welfare of the participating dogs. Despite introducing safety measures like outfitting dogs with neon collars to protect them from snowmobiles, the race remains a contentious issue.

PETA renews its call for cancellation of the Iditarod

The recent dog deaths have reignited criticisms from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a group long opposed to the Iditarod. Expressing dismay at the deaths, PETA Senior Vice President Colleen O’Brien criticized the event, highlighting the severe toll it takes on the participating dogs — per NY Daily News.

“The death count keeps climbing for dogs who are forced to run until their bodies break down,” O’Brien said. She condemned the race as “despicable” for valuing human accolades over the well-being of the dogs, urging an end to the competition.

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