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Exposé: Pain, Desolation, Abuse, and Systemic Neglect at Former Iditarod Champions’ Kennels

There are thousands of dogs suffering in Alaska who deserve far better than a lifetime of isolation, cruelty, and death on the Iditarod Trail. Tell Chrysler, Millennium Hotels, and Alaska Airlines to stop sponsoring the Iditarod immediately.

PETA: ‘At a kennel operated by former Iditarod champion John Baker and by Katherine Keith, who had two dogs perish during past Iditarod races, PETA’s eyewitness found dozens of frantic dogs, some of whom Keith was training for the 2019 Iditarod (before she pulled out of the race). Baker has competed in the Iditarod 22 times since 1996, winning nearly $603,000. The dogs’ only respite from a wind chill as low as minus 19 degrees (-28C) was dilapidated, uninsulated boxes, some of which had even collapsed, containing very little, if any, straw for bedding. Dogs were routinely fed a “stew” of rotten and/or moldy meat. They were denied water during training, even when running for over 50 miles, and only ever had access to water in the form of the daily “stew,” which at times was so foul that they couldn’t eat it. Many dogs’ ribs and hips could easily be seen—even beneath their thick fur…

Snickers was one of Baker’s lead dogs in 2011, when he won the Iditarod. But when she was 11 years old, PETA’s eyewitness found her limping and suffering from chronic, painful arthritis. Rather than providing his elderly lead dog with the veterinary care and comfort that she desperately needed, he chained her beside the frozen sea—all alone and unable to escape the Arctic cold. She had no shelter at all until PETA’s eyewitness built one for her, as the wooden box next to her area was only accessible from an adjacent pen. Baker said that Snickers had suffered from arthritis even when she ran the Iditarod. He admitted that she was “in a lot of pain” and had been for years and that he needed to “put her out of her misery.” He stated that he planned to shoot her but had not yet done it because “I just don’t have a good place to bury her”…

At three-time Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey‘s kennel, PETA’s eyewitness found scores of dogs continuously chained to barrels. Some had run in circles for so long that their paw pads were worn down or raw. Dogs were forced to run day after day, even when their paws or nails were bleeding. Some workers hit them in the face to make them line up in front of the sleds. One worker harnessed dogs next to each other who she knew had fought and said she would “kick them in the balls” if they fought again. After one training run, she boasted, “I just kicked [a dog] in his anus”… Seavey raced Pilot, an aging Iditarod champion whom the kennel calls “the dog that makes Mitch [Seavey] great,” in the 2019 Iditarod, even though a worker admitted the dog had “a lot of problems” and “tears himself apart” while racing. Another dog, Zephyr, had pus-filled wounds on his back legs as a result of being repeatedly hit by a metal bar as he ran, and a worker tore the scabs off them causing him to yelp in pain…

There are thousands of dogs just like Snickers, Birch, and Captain suffering in Alaska—all for the sake of mushers’ greedy pursuit of cash and “glory.” Dogs deserve far better than a lifetime of isolation, cruelty, suffering, and death on the Iditarod Trail. Please never take a dog-sled ride. If you are planning a trip or cruise to Alaska, don’t buy any packages or excursions that include dog-sled rides or visits to dog kennels. Please also urge Chrysler, Millennium Hotels and Resorts, and Alaska Airlines to sever ties with the Iditarod immediately. Ask them if they really want their brand names to be associated with the cruelty in this industry. Demand that they immediately drop their endorsement of the cruel Iditarod and help spare these animals even one more day of agony’. SOURCE…

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