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A Kid's Thoughts
and interviews about the Iditarod
Iditarod not even fit for dogs by Jon Saraceno, USA Today
to see this race is over by Jim Rome, Fox Sports
bone of contention repels some marketers by Bruce Horovitz, USA
Iditarod no more than dog abuse by Jon Saraceno,
Iditarod, hailed as greatest dog race? Call it grotesque
shame, animal abuse
by Greg Cote, Miami Herald
Iditarod dog deaths unjustifiable by George
Diaz, Orlando Sentinel
Iditarod's claim to shame: dead dogs by Jim Reeves,
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
On your mark, set . . . let the cruelty begin by Jon
Saraceno, USA Today
This barbaric race serves no purpose by David Whitley,
What Iditarod Does To Dogs Is True March Madness
by Jeff Jacobs, Hartford Courant
As death toll of dogs rises, so does Iditarod's
insanity by Jon Saraceno, USA Today
Victims of cold, fatigue and greed by Bob Padecky,
Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Interview with Alaska's Governor Frank Murkowski
on Real Time with Bill Maher
Dogs shouldn't be tools for entertainment by Tom
Grady, Star News
Iditarod race maddest part of March by Dave
McGrath,The Badger Herald
Tough lives for man's best friend by
John M. Crisp, Scripps Howard News Service
Grueling Iditarod not
even fit for dogs
by Jon Saraceno
Imagine, for a moment, that you are a natural-born runner with unbridled
endurance, strength and spirit. You would run yourself to death, if allowed.
Imagine your coach signing you up for a marathon in the Alaskan hinterland.
He ships you to the race in a wooden box with an opening only large enough
for your snout.
TO SEE THIS RACE IS OVER
by Jim Rome
March 14, 2001
Good news: The annual I-killed-a-dog-sled race is over. That means that
all of the dogs who managed to make it through another year without getting
beaten to death on the frozen tundra of Alaska have another 12 months
to breathe easy.
Legendary animal whacker Doug Swingley won the race, again to complete
the three-peat. It was his fourth title overall. This guy is the Michael
Jordan of dog sled killing, errr, racing. And he says this one was especially
meaningful to him because there were six other former champions in the
The fact that you were able to outwhip, outbeat and outmutilate those
other guys must make you proud, D. Actually, what I really was curious
about, were the only stats that truly matter. Namely, how many dogs gave
their life for this oh so important event? And, the final tally: 2 dead
dogs and several others that bowed out due to injury. Including a group
that was mangled by a snowmaking machine.
Great event, this I-killed-a-dog-sled race. What's better than watching
dogs die and get mauled by a snow machine? And don't even bother with
your, "You don't get it Rome," e-mails. You're right, I don't. and I don't
want to either.
I hope I never get to place where beating dogs to death is good sport.
bone of contention repels some marketers
March 2, 2001
The Iditarod dog sled race has become a public-relations minefield.
Organizers of the grueling 1,150-mile race across Alaska have raised a
record $2 million this year in sponsorship support for the race, which
begins Saturday. more
no more than dog abuse
by Jon Saraceno
March 5, 2001
Margery Glickman's intent wasn't to become a crusader when she made that
fateful summertime trip to Alaska nearly three years ago. Vacationing
with her two teenage boys, she wanted to explore and enjoy the awe-inspiring
beauty of our 49th state.
Instead, she was horrified. "I saw something that was very disturbing
to me — and I was angry," she says.
Today, she remains an advocate for our four-legged friends who cannot
express their agony and distress, at least not in human terms. "I'm not
a professional animal-rights activist," Glickman says. "I continue to
be persistent because I continue to be outraged."
to the top
hailed as greatest dog race? Call it grotesque shame, animal abuse
by Greg Cote
March 5, 2002
The dogs are running again, in many cases running until they drop, in
some cases running until they die.
The 30th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is underway in Alaska to see which
team can trek 1,100 miles the fastest. Last year's winner made it in nine
days. The bizarre competition involves 65 ''mushers,'' drivers along for
the ride as their slaves -- 16-dog teams, at least at the start -- do
the hard labor, at times encouraged by their masters' whips. more
dog deaths unjustifiable
by George Diaz
March 5, 2000
The unofficial death count is 114, though the numbers lie because it isn`t
possible to follow all the bloody paw prints of innocent animals that
have died in the name of this barbaric "sport."
They have been strangled in towlines, gouged by sleds, suffered liver
injury, heart failure, pneumonia and "external myopathy," a condition
in which a dog's muscles and organs deteriorate during extreme or prolonged
claim to shame: dead dogs
by Jim Reeves
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
March 1, 2003
Today is the day when the dogs begin to die.
The annual I-Killed-A-Dog Race starts today in Alaska.
That Arlington's Randy Chappel is among the 65 mushers who will drive
a team of dogs 1,150 miles -- about the distance between New York and
Orlando or Fort Worth and Cleveland -- brings the story home even more
your mark, set . . . let the cruelty begin
by Jon Saraceno
March 3, 2000
Tom Classen has lived outside the "lower 48" for more than 40 years. The
retired 81-year-old Air Force colonel has long enjoyed the inspiring beauty
of his state, where themes of outdoor adventure and rugged individualism
This is the weekend he dreads.
This is the time of year when he hangs his head in shame at the ugliness
of some of his fellow Alaskans. Classen suffers, but not in silence. "God,"
he pleads, "we've got to stop this damn killing." more
This barbaric race serves
by David Whitley
March 16, 2003
I'll admit, I know as much about dogsled racing as I do theoretical physics.
But you don't have to be Stephen Hawking to realize the Iditarod should
have run its course years ago.
This year's race ended last Thursday and Friday. For all we know, sleds
may still be straggling in. Which shows you how ridiculous the race is.
There were 64 teams entered. When the talent discrepancy is so bad a team
can finish two days behind the winner, it's not a real sport -- NCAA Women's
Basketball Tournament excluded, of course. more
Iditarod Does To Dogs Is True March Madness
by Jeff Jacobs
March 18, 2004
Jonathan XII, a 3-year-old white Siberian Husky who loves to be petted,
lives a comfortable lifestyle at an unidentified location 20 minutes from
the UConn campus. The shroud of secrecy is necessary, his handler Karen
Landwehr said, to prevent merry pranksters from Rhode Island and other
rival schools from kidnapping the mascot of our state university.
Personally, I'm not buying the explanation.
I'm convinced Jonathan, the noble heir to a tradition that dates to 1934,
is being hidden so he is not drafted into the annual war against dogs.
Surely you've heard of the 1,100-mile death march from Anchorage to Nome.
It's the grotesque spectacle that alternately bills itself as Alaska's
great race and the world's premier dog-sled race. more
death toll of dogs rises, so does Iditarod's insanity
by Jon Saraceno
March 15, 2004
I'm all for mutiny. Dog mutiny, that is.
When it comes to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race, how do we get more
of our furry friends to lie down on the job? If they belonged to a union,
there would be a strike every March when the 1,100-mile marathon of dog
misery is propelled by more than 1,000 members through the treacherous
In that labor dispute, I would be all for the stressed-to-the-max dogs.
They are overworked and underpaid. The money and the glory go to management
— in this case, mushers and their sponsors. more
of cold, fatigue and greed
by Bob Padecky
Santa Rosa Press Democrat
March 20, 2004
A dog is there for the taking. He can't talk back. He can't say, stop,
you're killing me, you're treating me like a dog. Six years ago, Margery
Glickman happened upon a couple of hundred dogs that, if they could have
spoken, would have said just that.
Glickman was vacationing in Alaska. She came for the scenery but saw instead
a "dog farm." Animals were tethered to stakes by chains, belligerent in
their confinement, drinking filthy water, sitting, as she said, "in their
own fecal matter." This was a breeding place for the Iditarod. Glickman
was perplexed. more
Bill Maher's interview with Alaska's Governor Frank Murkowski
I know you love your state and you’ll probably love whatever goes on up
there, but I’m a member – a board member – of the People for Ethical Treatment
of Animals—[applause]—okay, okay, wait, wait, wait. What about stopping
that Iditarod? Because I think you’ve already made your point that if
you hit an animal, it will run. [laughter]
MURKOWSKI: That’s right.
MAHER: Don’t you think it’s cruel to the dogs?
MURKOWSKI: [overlapping] And if you—
MURKOWSKI: And you know, you go out to Santa Anita and watch the
races, and you get a big kick out of betting on the races. Do you think
that’s cruel to the horse?
MAHER: I do.
MURKOWSKI: Or are the thoroughbreds bred – are they bred just like
our dogs are bred?
MAHER: [overlapping] But that’s only – but that’s only a two—but
that’s only a two-minute race. This one is like 6,000 miles. [laughter]
MURKOWSKI: [overlapping] No, but it’s pretty hard. Yeah, but they
MAHER: I mean, a lot of times, the dogs run until they drop dead.
MURKOWSKI: [overlapping]—they rest every night.
MAHER: [overlapping] I never saw that at Santa Anita. [laughter]
MURKOWSKI: No, no, we’ve got – we’ve got veterinarians at every
stop. We take good care of the dogs. And the dogs are bred for it just
like you and I are bred for politics—
MAHER: The dogs are bred for it? That’s what they said about slaves!
[laughter] [applause] You know. All right, I’m just – I’m just asking
you to think about it.
MURKOWSKI: I’m thinking about it. [laughter]."
Real Time with Bill Maher, March 18, 2005, Episode #55
HBO broadcast transcript
the Sled Dog Action Coalition: Gov. Murkowski said that the dogs rest
every night. However, Iditarod rules require only two eight hour rests
and one twenty-four rest. The remainder of the time, the dogs may be racing.]
shouldn't be tools for entertainment
March 29, 2006
I recently wrote a column for the sports section of the Star-News that
focused on the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race. I’d like to expand on the
The animal lovers among us don't like to see dogs or any animals forced
to the limit for the entertainment of humans. In my view, dog fighting,
greyhound racing and dog sled racing all fall under the same category,
although dog fighting is especially cruel and separated at the top the
Maybe I'm not getting the full picture on sled racing, but I've seen the
videos of dogs tied to short chains near tiny, crude doghouses and I've
read stories about tragedies along the race course.
They have been bred for the so-called sport, and I'm sure their handlers
would defend the practice by telling us they enjoy it. But can we really
imagine that the dogs love the struggle that sometimes kills a fellow
member of the team?
they really enjoy being tied up on a short chain for many hours at a time
while they wait for the next race or the next training run? The answer
is a definitive no – no matter what propaganda or spin might be presented.
I have no doubt that some of the folks involved do treat their dogs better
than others. But in my view, dogs should be more a part of our families
than a tool that we tie up by the backyard shed until we get the urge
to engage in a hobby.
I was really upset when I found the Web site www.helpsleddogs.org. It
lists numerous deaths in the 2006 race and in prior years.
The site also posts several opinion pieces, including a column by Fox
Sports’ Jim Rome, who calls the Iditarod "the annual I-killed-a-dog-sled
The more I read, the more dog sled racing reminds me of greyhound racing.
The Web site suggests, through a referenced article in the Anchorage Daily
News, that a high number of dogs are bred to produce the best possible
racers. The dogs that don't make the cut are killed, with some inhumanely
shot in the head.
Sled racing is not a sport. The people involved might get a little cold,
but they are nice and cozy in the sled compared to the dogs they push.
If these people want to race the long distance across Alaska for money,
let them strap on snowshoes or skis and go it alone. That I could call
a sport, and maybe the money raised over the next few "man-itarod" races
might be enough to cover the vet bills and transportation to send the
dogs to loving homes.
Iditarod race maddest part
by Dave McGrath
The Badger Herald
Thursday, March 15, 2007
With the NCAA tournament about to get underway and the anticipation and
excitement of the best four days in sports just around the corner, it
can be difficult to see the big picture at times. While the Big Dance
is about to get underway, the true madness of March just finished.
Some Huskies are missing.
No, I’m not talking about the Connecticut Huskies, who missed both the
NCAA and NIT tournaments for the first time since shoes became fashionable.
What I’m talking about is the Iditarod, maybe the cruelest celebrated
sporting event in America.
year, a bunch of yahoos and foreign “professionals” travel to Alaska to
partake in a sled race with a pack of 16 or so dogs dragging a sled, the
musher and supplies over 1,150 grueling miles in eight to 15 days. Yeah,
1,150 miles in as little as eight days, which averages out to about 140
miles a day, or on the high end, “just” 70 miles. This is done all in
the name of tradition, commemorating the 1925 serum run, where relays
of dog teams delivered much needed diphtheria serum from Anchorage to
In that relay, no dog ran more than 92 miles, so to say that the Iditarod
is something of an exaggeration is like calling Britney Spears’ locks
just slightly trimmed. more
lives for man's best friend
John M. Crisp
Scripps Howard News Service
August 20, 2007
you have any doubts about the despicable nature of the allegations against
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, you can dispel them by Googling
a term like "dogfighting" and perusing the pictures and stories that pop
up; any reasonably civilized human being will be disgusted.
On the other hand, as Paul Campos of Scripps Howard News Service pointed
out recently, those of us who are not vegetarians might feel a little
uncomfortable with the intensity of the condemnation of Vick. After all,
the neatly arrayed, cellophaned slabs of red meat that we find in the
supermarkets don't come out of a machine. They're the end product of a
process that requires confinement, killing, dismemberment and, often,
Of course, this implicit whiff of hypocrisy in no way justifies breeding
animals for fighting characteristics and then pitting them against each
other for our amusement. But it does highlight some of the unacknowledged
self-deception that lies just beneath the surface of our complicated relationship
For example: A few weeks ago I happened to be in Juneau, Alaska, on a
trip that included a brief visit to a "Summer Camp" for Alaskan husky
sled dogs, the kind that race in the annual 1,150-mile Iditarod. In a
remote Alaskan valley, 120 dogs live and train for the winter races by
pulling a 700-pound wagon loaded with a couple of mushers and six tourists
along a snowless trail. These wiry mutts mount a deafening tumult of barking
and baying at the prospect of being put in harness, but they run in complete,
promotional literature pictures the experience as partly educative, promising
visitors that they will learn "how the health and care of the dogs is
the musher's greatest concern." These "happy huskies" bond with their
mushers and love to run. One could imagine that from "puppyhood" they
dream of little else but winning the Iditarod.
But it takes a naive tourist to accept this Disneyfied version of the
world of mushing at face value. The use of animals for our amusement --
horseracing, dog racing, circuses, marine mammal exhibitions -- nearly
always has a dark underside from which we generally avert our eyes.
For example, these social animals, bred to run, spend nearly all of their
time confined to a 5-foot chain to keep them near their small doghouse,
food bowl, water dish and, most unnatural for a dog, their own excretions.
Some veterinarians contend, quite reasonably, that chaining a dog leads
to aggression and stress and, in fact, it appears that sled dogs suffer
from a high rate of stomach ulcers brought on, some believe, by their
living conditions. To some, 120 small identical doghouses, each with a
restless howling dog chained next to it, may look like a "summer camp,"
but it's not hard to picture it as a canine concentration camp or a madhouse
The Iditarod itself is a highly competitive extreme event, 1,150 miles
over treacherous terrain, often in sub-zero blizzard conditions, often
at night and with very little rest. By the nature of the race, the dogs
are driven to their limits, and dog deaths and serious injuries aren't
unusual. Stories of dog abuse on the trail are rife on the Internet. I
can't vouch for the accuracy of all these stories, but given what we know
about the history of relations between humans and animals, they have the
ring of truth.
And given what we know about intense competitions like the Iditarod, for
every dog that runs, dozens -- perhaps hundreds -- don't make the grade.
What happens to them? We'd like to think that they wind up as a pampered
pet on a lush farm somewhere in Alaska, but opponents of the Iditarod
claim that it's hard to find homes for dogs that have spent most of their
lives confined to a chain. These dogs, they claim, are "culled."
So, if Michael Vick is guilty of dogfighting, the authorities should hit
him hard. But it's worth remembering that his offenses are at the extreme,
repugnant end of a scale that includes a variety of inhumane practices.
We sanitize these practices by pretending that animals are willing and
enthusiastic participants. Generally, they're not.
to the top
mistreat their dogs during race
sicknesses and extreme stress
with Iditarod rules
fuels the Iditarod
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