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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter


From Animals in Print 20 December 2000 Issue:

The Sled Dog Action Coalition
http://www.helpsleddogs.org 

Microsoft, Procter and Gamble, and other companies whose contact information is listed below are sponsoring the 2001 Iditarod dog sled race or mushers who participate in it. This race is condemned by animal protection groups across the United States.

In the Iditarod, dogs are forced to run 1,150 miles over a grueling terrain in 9 to 14 days, which is the approximate distance between Denver and LA. Dog deaths and injuries are common in the race. Jon Saraceno, sports columnist for USA Today, called the race "Ihurtadog" and "an outrage." Please visit the Sled Dog Action Coalition website http://www.helpsleddogs.org   to see pictures, read quotes and for more information.

Mushers believe in "culling" or killing unwanted dogs. Dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, are killed with a shot to the head.

Please educate the companies listed below about the cruelties of the Iditarod. A sample letter and contact information are provided below. A complete list of the companies promoting the 2001 Iditarod can be found on http://www.helpsleddogs.org/sponsors.htm.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear

I understand your company is associated with the Iditarod, and I would like to bring some facts to your attention. This race is condemned by animal protection groups across the United States.

In the Iditarod, dogs are forced to run 1,150 miles over a grueling terrain in 9 to 14 days, which is the approximate distance between Denver and LA. Dog deaths and injuries are common in the race. Jon Saraceno, sports columnist for USA Today, called the race "Ihurtadog" and "an outrage." Please visit the Sled Dog Action Coalition website http://www.helpsleddogs.org to see pictures, read quotes and for more information.

The Iditarod violates accepted standards regarding animal cruelty as is shown by the laws of 38 states and the District of Columbia. These 38 states and the District of Columbia have animal anti-cruelty laws that say "overdriving" and "overworking" an animal is animal cruelty. The California law is typical:

"597. Cruelty to animals. (B) Every person who overdrives, overloads, drives when overloaded, overworks... any animal... is, for every such offense, guilty of a crime punishable as a misdemeanor or as a felony or alternatively punishable as a misdemeanor or a felony and by a fine of not more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000)."

--Animal Welfare Institute, Animals and Their Legal Rights

The dog deaths and injuries in the Iditarod show that these dogs are "overworked" and "overdriven." If the Iditarod occurred in any of these 38 states or the District of Columbia, it would be illegal under the animal cruelty laws. Unfortunately, the State of Alaska's animal anti-cruelty law does not say that "overdriving" and "overworking" an animal is animal cruelty.

In almost all of the 27 Iditarod races, at least one dog death has occurred. The first race is reported to have resulted in the deaths of 15 to 19 dogs. In 1997, the Anchorage Daily News reported that "at least 107 (dogs) have died." In the three years since that report, seven more dogs have died in the Iditarod, bringing the grand total of dogs who have died in the Iditarod to at least 115. There is no official count of dog deaths available for the race's early years and this count relies only on a reported number of deaths.

Causes of death during the last ten years have included strangulation in towlines, internal hemorrhaging after being gouged by a sled, liver injury, heart failure, and pneumonia. "Sudden death" and "external myopathy," a condition in which a dog's muscles and organs deteriorate during extreme or prolonged exercise, have also been blamed. In 1985 a musher kicked his dog to death. The 1975 Iditarod winner, Jerry Riley, was banned for life in 1990 after being accused of striking his dog with a snow hook (a large, sharp and heavy metal claw). In 1996 Rick Swenson's dog died while he mushed his team through waist-deep water and ice.

Many Iditarod dogs have gastric ulcers and some have died from this condition. Ulcers predispose the dogs to vomiting. Normally, the trachea closes the airway so that foreign material does not enter the lungs. But because these dogs run at such high speeds for such a long period of time, they cannot stop gasping for air despite the vomiting. Consequently, dogs inhale the vomit into their lungs which causes suffocation and death.

According to Michael Matz, a highly regarded expert in gastrointestinal disorders in small animals, the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is the most common cause of gastrointestinal ulceration in small animals (Kirk's Current Veterinary Therapy XII- Small Animal Practice). These drugs reduce swelling, inflammation, relieve pain and fever, which allows the dogs to run farther and faster. Unfortunately, some dogs pay with their lives for the use of these drugs.

The race has led to the proliferation of husky dog kennels in Alaska. In these kennels, many dogs are treated very cruelly. Many kennels have over 100 dogs and some have as many as 200. None of the kennels is inspected or supervised by the State of Alaska or by anyone else.

It is standard for the dogs to spend their entire lives outside tethered to metal chains that can be as short as four feet long. In 1997 the United States Department of Agriculture determined that the tethering of dogs was inhumane and not in the animals' best interests. The chaining of dogs as a primary means of enclosure is prohibited in all cases where federal law applies. A dog who is permanently tethered is forced to urinate and defecate where he sleeps which conflicts with his natural instinct to eliminate away from his living area. Being close to his own to his own fecal material, a dog can easily catch deadly parasitical diseases by stepping in or sniffing his own waste.

In their kennels, the dogs are never given the opportunity to run free even in a fenced in area. Many of them drink water from hard-to reach rusty cans that are bolted to their doghouses and are rarely cleaned or disinfected.

Injured and old, arthritic dogs are kept outside in the winter when the average daily minimum temperatures range from -24 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. It is painful for these dogs to be in the intense cold. Some dogs are never bathed, and nothing is done to help them cool off no matter how hot it gets in the summer. The only shade they get is inside their dirty doghouse, or under their doghouse if they are lucky enough to have one that's raised off the ground.

Some kennels have few employees, so that each dog gets little attention. Mushers believe in "culling" or killing unwanted dogs. Dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, are killed with a shot to the head.

Iditarod dogs are unhappy prisoners with no chance of parole. Please end your company's association with the Iditarod dog sled race.

Sincerely,

MUSHER SPONSORS

Bill Gates, Chmn
Microsoft Corporation (PacWest Division)
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
Phone: (425) 882-8080
Fax: (425) 936-7329
Email: msft@microsoft.com 

John Pepper, Chmn
Iams/Procter & Gamble
One Procter & Gamble Plaza
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: 513-983-1100
Fax: 513-983-9369
Email: shareholders.im@pg.com 

William M. Carpenter, Chmn
Bausch & Lomb
One Bausch & Lomb Place
Rochester, NY 14604-2701
Telephone: (716)338-6000
Fax: (716)338-6007
Email Message Box: http://bausch.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/bausch/people  

Perry Massie, Chmn
The Outdoor Channel (Global Outdoors, Inc.)
43445 Business Park Drive, Suite 113
Temecula, CA 92590
Phone: (800) 543-3760
Fax: (909) 699-4062
Email: betty@outdoorchannel.com 

Nutro Products, Inc.
445 Wilson Way
City of Industry, CA 91744
Phone: 800-833-5330 (toll free)
Email message box: Click "Contact Nutro" http://www.nutroproducts.com  

American Seafoods Company
Marketplace Tower
2025 First Avenue, Suite 900
Seattle, WA 98121
Phone: (206) 448-0300
Fax: (206) 448-0505
Email: info@centrepartners.com 

Lon R. Greenberg, Chmn
AmeriGas (UGI Corporation)
460 N. Gulph Rd.
King of Prussia, PA 19406
Phone: 610-337-7000
Fax: 610-992-3259
Email: hr1@amerigas.com 

IDITAROD SPONSORS

Hermann J. Strenger, Chmn
Bayer Corporation
Werk Leverkusen 51368
Leverkusen, Germany
Phone: +49-214-30-58992
Fax: +49-214-307-1985
Email: alexander.rosar.ar1@bayer-ag.de  

Paul Hazen, Chmn
National Bank of Alaska (Wells Fargo & Company)
402 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94163
Phone: (800) 411-4932 (toll free)
Fax: 415-677-9075
Email message box: http://www.wellsfargo.com/ir/cgi/iraskus.cgi  

Joseph A. Pichler
Fred Meyer Stores (Kroger)
1014 Vine St.
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: 513-762-4000
Fax: 513-762-1160
Email: investors@kroger.com 

Regal Alaskan Hotel (Millennium & Copthorne Hotels)
CDL Hotels International Ltd
Singapore
Email: marketing@mill-cop.com 

Maureen Bellantoni, CFO
Burger King (Diageo plc)
17777 Old Cutler Road
Miami, FL 33157
Phone: (305) 378-3000
Fax: (305) 378-3013
Email: mbellantoni@whopper.com
Email: investor.rel@diageo.com 

A complete list of the companies promoting the 2001 Iditarod can be found on
http://www.helpsleddogs.org/sponsors.htm

Return to Animals in Print 20 Dec 2000 Issue

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