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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 23 May 2001 Issue:

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Four-time Iditarod race winner, Susan Butcher, will give the keynote address at the 2001 Rational Software User Conference in July. Rational Software Corporation believes that people will be inspired by Butcher's experiences as a musher and as a dog breeder. They believe these experiences illustrate the teamwork and skill which software developers need. Butcher is described on Rational's website as "one of the most adventurous, focused and successful women athletes." This is outrageous.

One of the dogs used by Butcher in the 1994 Iditarod died from exertional myopathy, otherwise known as "sudden death syndrome." Another dog used by her dropped dead in 1987 of internal hemorrhaging.

In the book Susan Butcher and the Iditarod Trail, Ellen Dolan said that Butcher hallucinated when racing in the Iditarod. A musher who hallucinates cannot make judgements or care for her dogs. Dolan also said Butcher trained her dogs by having them pull an ATV.

Eyewitnesses report that Butcher permanently tethers her dogs on short chains. Tethering is cruel and inhumane and the following letter explains in detail the serious consequences of this practice.

Please contact Rational Software and ask it to select another motivational speaker, one whose activities show respect for its conference attendees and for animals. Contact information and a sample letter with all information are below:

CONTACT:
Paul D. Levy, Chairman
Rational Software Corporation
18880 Homestead Rd.
Cupertino, CA 95014-0721
Phone: 408-863-9900
Fax: 408-863-4120
Email: IR@rational.com 

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear Mr. Levy:

Please do not have Iditarod dog sled race winner Susan Butcher speak at the 2001 Rational User Conference. You do a great disservice to your attendees by selecting a speaker who is associated with this abusive race and all the evils that accompany it. Butcher should not be held up as a role model.

One of the dogs used by Butcher in the 1994 Iditarod died from exertional myopathy, otherwise known as "sudden death syndrome." Another dog used by her dropped dead in 1987 of internal hemorrhaging.

In the book Susan Butcher and the Iditarod Trail, Ellen Dolan said that Butcher hallucinated when racing in the Iditarod. A musher who hallucinates cannot make judgements or care for her dogs. Dolan also said Butcher trained her dogs by having them pull an ATV.

Eyewitnesses report that Butcher permanently tethers her dogs on short chains. Tethering is cruel and inhumane because:

1) Continuous chaining psychologically damages dogs and makes many of them very aggressive.

2) 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.

3) Dogs are pack animals and tethering prevents them from having normal interactions.

4) In 1996, the United States Department of Agriculture said, "Our experience in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has led us to conclude that continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane."

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 Orlando and New York. Dog deaths and injuries are common in the race. Jon Saraceno, sports columnist for USA Today, called the race "Ihurtadog" and "an outrage." Fox sportscaster Jim Rome called it "I-killed-a-dog." The Iditarod is condemned by animal protection groups across the United States.

Please visit the Sled Dog Action Coalition website http://www.helpsleddogs.org  to see pictures, and for more information. Be sure to read the quotes on http://www.helpsleddogs.org/remarks.htm . The material on the site is true and verifiable.

In almost all of the 29 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, which is a strong supporter of the race, admitted that "at least 107 (dogs) have died." Since that report, ten more dogs have died in the Iditarod, bringing the grand total of dogs who have died in the Iditarod to at least 117. 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 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 occurred. In 1985 a musher kicked his dog to death. The 1976 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 one of Rick Swenson's dogs died while he mushed his team through waist-deep water and ice.

In this year's race, a sick dog was sent to a prison to be cared for by inmates and received no veterinary care. He was chained up in the cold and died. Another dog died by suffocating on his own vomit.

Tom Classen, retired Air Force colonel and Alaskan resident for over 40 years, tells us that the dogs are beaten into submission:

"They've had the hell beaten out of them.""You don't just whisper into their ears, ‘OK, stand there until I tell you to run like the devil.' They understand one thing: a beating. These dogs are beaten into submission the same way elephants are trained for a circus. The mushers will deny it. And you know what? They are all lying." -USA Today, March 3, 2000 in Jon Saraceno's column

Beatings and whippings are common. Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, "I heard one highly respected (sled dog) driver once state that "‘Alaskans like the kind of dog they can beat on.'" "Nagging a dog team is cruel and ineffective...A training device such as a whip is not cruel at all but is effective." "It is a common training device in use among dog mushers...A whip is a very humane training tool."

Mushers believe in "culling" or killing unwanted dogs, including puppies. Dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, are killed with a shot to the head. Dogs are skinned for their fur, which is then used on mittens and parkas.

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

Sincerely,

Source: Sled Dog Action Coalition

Return to Animals in Print 23 May 2001 Issue

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