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

At a 3-time Iditarod champion's kennel, an 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.

PETA: ‘At a kennel operated by former Iditarod champions John Baker and 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… Birch was just a puppy when she sustained a crippling, extremely painful spinal cord injury, which left her unable to move around comfortably and struggling just to get in and out of the shelter she had access to—the same box that PETA’s eyewitness had built for Snickers. Baker and Keith wouldn’t take Birch to a veterinarian. They just chained her up outside and left her there… Salt and Pepper were both injured in a fight, and each was unable to bear weight on one leg. But just days later, Keith took them both on a 50-mile run…

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”…

After the 2019 Iditarod, Seavey told workers that he’d noticed that one dog, Rudder’s “breathing [had been] labored”—likely indicative of pneumonia, a common killer of dogs used in the race—but had still run him more than 50 additional miles before dropping him… 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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