The Alaska Iditarod race, held annually in March, raises controversy over the handling of dogs. It is a popular event that aims to celebrate the culture and heritage of the Alaskan Huskies who pull sleds across mountainous and rough terrain. Mushing was a means of travel in Alaska in the early years when a sled dog team pulled a sled with a driver on board.
The route taken for the race is based on the year of its passage. Even these years, routes go from Anchorage to Ruby. This is the northern route. In unevenly numbered years, the route runs from Anchorage to Unalakleet, the southern route. The race distance is about 1,200 miles and is the longest sled dog race in the world.
The first Iditarod was held in 1973 and reportedly killed 15 to 19 dogs during that race. An estimated 130 dogs have been killed since the first days of the race, when there were no official death tolls. Thus, the exact number of deaths of dogs during the first years is not known.
The last ten years have been evidence of death due to shortness of breath in the course, internal hemorrhage, liver damage, heart failure and pneumonia. Also, some deaths are caused by deterioration of the dog’s muscles and organs during extreme exercise. There have been cases of racers chasing their dogs to death, beating them with sharp objects and passing dogs through dangerous deep water and ice.
During the race, dogs suffer spinal injuries, bone fractures, paw pains, torn muscles, joint pain, dehydration and diarrhea. About half of the dogs that start the race are unable to reach the finish line.
While training dogs for racing, it is reported that some dogs are injured or killed by the grueling steps they go through. The training is conducted in remote areas of Alaska, and many dogs are forced to carry extremely heavy loads. The tension of these loads can cause injuries to the thigh and spine.
Musher is also criticized for beating dogs. They are accused of killing any puppy or dog that does not meet the standard of a good race dog.
Along the treadmill, there are about twenty checkpoints that have a veterinarian on duty to assist dogs. These checkpoints serve as recreational areas for both dogs and fishermen. Dogs are fed and allowed to rest at these checkpoints, and any dog that is ill or injured remains at the checkpoint.
Veterinarians who care for dogs at checkpoints defend the treatment of animals, saying that many untrue stories tell that dogs run to their deaths. They claim that the number of dog deaths is normal, given that you are talking about 1000 dogs, so three to five deaths out of 1000 dogs are not a disturbing figure. Kennels housing 1,000 dogs can expect about 3 deaths in two weeks.
Almost all the dogs are members of several animal care groups that promote responsible dog care and humane treatment. They say that the stories of dogs and whips could not be further from the truth. They have no exaggeration and cause protest from human rights activists.
Flies love their dogs and claim that Alaskan Huskies & # 39; instinct – to run and pull the sled. This is what bred them, just like bird dogs that instinctively prey on birds. The Huskies have been used by generations in Alaska to train sleds, so it’s easy for them, while it would be very difficult for another breed of dog. What a husky can do is pull a solid sled from a dead stop. Endurance is the Husky’s strength.
So the battle between the musketeers and the animal rights groups continues, as does the race itself. In the first race in 1973, the prize pool was $ 50,000. That figure has risen to about $ 500,000 in races over the last year, and the races are scheduled to be repeated next year in March, as usual.