Tell Charles Gibson, ABC World News, the Truth About the Iditarod

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Originally Posted: September 11, 2008

Tell Charles Gibson, ABC World News, the Truth About the Iditarod

From Sled Dog Action Coalition

On his Sept. 10 show "World News with Charles Gibson," Gibson hyped the barbaric Iditarod. Don't let Gibson and ABC get away with promoting animal abuse. Help the dogs by sending complaint emails. (A sample letter and an email address are below.)

Gibson said that the Iditarod was a "great race" and that he "knows the dogs want to run." The program promoted musher Jeff King as an innovator for forcing his dogs to swim interminable laps in a lake.

Nothing negative was said about the race or how the dogs are forced to live on chains. Nothing was said about the dogs being run to death or that the race has a well-documented history of illnesses and injuries.

Email Disney which owns ABC: 
Email ABC’s World News here

Talking Points below — USE YOUR OWN WORDS

On September 10, Charles Gibson of ABC News promoted the Iditarod. This sled dog race has a long, well-documented history of dog death, illnesses and injuries. It's terribly wrong for ABC/Disney to promote animal abuse.

Please air a show that gives the animal protection side of the Iditarod story.

What happens to the dogs during the Iditarod includes death, paralysis, frostbite of the penis and scrotum, bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, broken bones, torn muscles and tendons, sprains, torn footpads and anemia. At least 136 dogs have died in the race. No one knows how many dogs die after this tortuous ordeal or during training. For more facts about the Iditarod, visit the Sled Dog Action Coalition website.

On average, 53 percent of the dogs who start the race do not make it across the finish line. According to a report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, of those who do finish, 81 percent have lung damage. A report published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine said that 61 percent of the dogs who complete the Iditarod have ulcers versus zero percent pre-race.

Iditarod dog kennels are puppy mills. Mushers breed large numbers of dogs and routinely kill unwanted ones, including puppies. Many dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, including those who have outlived their usefulness, are killed with a shot to the head, dragged, drowned or clubbed to death. "Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don't pull are dragged to death in harnesses....." wrote former Iditarod dog handler Mike Cranford in an article for Alaska's Bush Blade Newspaper.

Dog beatings and whippings are common. During the 2007 Iditarod, eyewitnesses reported that musher Ramy Brooks kicked, punched and beat his dogs with a ski pole and a chain. Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, "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..."

Jon Saraceno wrote in his March 3, 2000 column in USA Today, "He [Colonel Tom Classen] confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their most advantageous racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens. Or dragging them to their death."

During the race, veterinarians do not give the dogs physical exams at every checkpoint. Mushers speed through many checkpoints, so the dogs get the briefest visual checks, if that. Instead of pulling sick dogs from the race, veterinarians frequently give them massive doses of antibiotics to keep them running.

Most Iditarod dogs are forced to live at the end of a chain when they aren't hauling people around. It has been reported that dogs who don't make the main team are never taken off-chain. Chained dogs have been attacked by wolves, bears and other animals. Old and arthritic dogs suffer terrible pain in the blistering cold.

Stop promoting this horrific race and tell ABC viewers the truth about the cruelties.


For more information, visit Sled Dog Action Coalition.

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