Activists seek criminal charges in Iditarod dog death

Human cruelty

The asphyxiation death of a dog dropped from the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has outraged animal rights activists who have long criticised the 1,000-mile race as cruel.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is urging Alaska prosecutors to file cruelty charges against those responsible for the death of 5-year-old Dorado, who died last week after being buried by drifting snow at a checkpoint during severe wind.

Horrifying death

“It’s a horrifying death, and we feel it was totally preventable,” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)  cruelty caseworker Kristin Simon said yesterday.

It was the first Iditarod dog death since 2009, when six dogs died, Iditarod chief veterinarian Stuart Nelson said. The dog was found dead Friday morning 418 kilometers from the finish line.

Check-out

Dorado and other dropped dogs were last checked about 3 am local time that day.
The death was discovered as much as five hours later, according to race spokeswoman Erin McLarnon.

McLarnon referred further questions to Iditarod race officials, who didn’t immediately return phone calls to the Associated Press seeking comment but sent an email response to the AP on Tuesday night.

“Iditarod does not engage in any dialogue which involves PETA,” the statement said.

Dropped from race

Dorado belonged to the team of Iditarod rookie Paige Drobny. The dog was dropped from the race March 11 and was being held in a lot set up to care for dogs left behind because of illness, injury, or tiredness.

Dorado was removed from the race March 11 because he was moving stiffly, according to a blog posted on the website for the Squid Acres Kennel run by Drobny and her husband. Iditarod officials have said Dorado was otherwise healthy.
Race continued

Drobny, 38, continued in the race with the rest of her team, finishing on Thursday in 34th place. Drobny’s husband, Cody Strathe, said the couple has asked race organizers to implement new protocols on how dropped dogs are cared for.

Strathe said changes sought from the Iditarod Trail Committee include boosting the number of helpers at checkpoints to check on dogs more often, providing adequate shelter and increasing the number of flights to get the dogs out more luickly.

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