Take a Stand Against the Savage Cruelty of the Dog Sledding Industry

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Originally Posted: 2 Feb 2011

Take a Stand Against the Savage Cruelty of the Dog Sledding Industry

[Ed. Note: Take action: Tell Iditarod Sponsors to End Their Support of Cruelty to Dogs.]

FROM Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)

ACTION

Tell Iditarod sponsors to STOP supporting dog cruelty whether or not Alaska’s anti-cruelty law specifically exempts “generally accepted dog mushing or pulling contests” from the protections given to other animals in Alaska.

Sign an online petition

** We have received reports from supporters that some emails are being returned undeliverable. This is due to the sponsors' email accounts filling up with your emails (thank you!) and not due to bad email addresses. If you receive an email bounceback from one or more of the sponsors, please try sending your letters again tomorrow. Thank you for supporting this important cause!

Read PDF of Worker Compensation Request for PTSD compensation for his part in sled dog massacre.]

INFORMATION / TALKING POINTS

The 2011 Iditarod starts on March 5.

Please help ALDF speak out for sled dogs. Sponsorship is the biggest source of revenue for the race; contact the Iditarod’s corporate sponsors and request that they no longer fund this deadly and horrific event.

This week, a shocking report from the British Columbia Worker's Compensation Board was leaked to the media: the general manager of a dog tour company filed an application for post-traumatic stress disorder after having killed 100 sled dogs on April 21 and 23, 2010, as allegedly ordered to by his employer. He used a gun to shoot each dog and the killings were performed in full view of the other terrified dogs slated to be shot. The full report (PDF) on the incident describes nightmarish scenes during the cull, including a dog named Suzie whose cheek was blown off and her eyeball left dangling prior to the killing shot, and a dog named Poker who was shot accidentally and suffered for fifteen minutes before being euthanized. Please be advised that the details are graphic and very disturbing:

The dog cull was ordered because of a “slow winter season,” according to USA Today. Marcie Moriarty, head of the British Columbia SPCA cruelty investigations division, told the Vancouver Sun that There is a problem with the sled dog industry in general. People see these 20 sled dogs, an idyllic setting with snow in the background and think how great. But what they don't see is the 200 dogs tethered and sleeping out back, chained to a barrel….What do they do when they don't have the money to feed them all? When the dogs aren't needed. The order to simply put them down is not acceptable.

To many of us, the most familiar face of the sled dog industry is Alaska’s Iditarod, an annual race in which teams of dogs are forced to pull a sled 1,100 miles across the Alaska wilderness, often running at a grueling pace of over 100 miles per day for ten straight days. The race has become a big money maker, bringing tourists and sponsors to Alaska.

The Alaska media and the “mushers” seem to glory in the race, but animal protectionists and advocates see a different side of this so-called “fun” event. To us, it is yet another way that human beings amuse themselves and make big money abusing and exploiting animals.

Since the race began in 1973, over 130 dogs have died during the event. We don’t know how many dogs have died during training or immediately after the event, because no one is keeping statistics. Causes of death have included heart attacks, drowning, hemorrhaging after being impaled on a sled, muscular arrest and strangulation. There are multiple claims that dogs have been beaten during the race when they were too tired or otherwise unwilling to continue running. And, there are many examples of dogs suffering injuries, exhaustion and other illnesses.

Alaska’s anti-cruelty law specifically exempts “generally accepted dog mushing or pulling contests” from the protections given to other animals in Alaska. It should also be noted that in ALDF’s 2010 State Rankings Report, Alaska’s anti-cruelty law ranked in the bottom tier. No surprise there!

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I was horrified to learn this week about the massacre of 100 sled dogs at a British Columbia dog tour company, who conducted a grisly, inhumane "cull" because business was slow. News reports confirm that the practice of killing unwanted dogs is commonplace in the industry. In the U.S., the dog sledding industry goes largely unregulated, and mushing is actually exempt from state cruelty laws in Alaska.

Since the Iditarod race began in 1973, over 130 dogs have died during the event. We don't know how many dogs have died during training or immediately after the event, because no one is keeping statistics -- however, news reports detail Iditarod mushers shooting, drowning, and bludgeoning to death their own unwanted dogs. Other causes of death for sled dogs have included heart attacks, hemorrhaging after being impaled on a sled, muscular arrest and strangulation. There are multiple claims that dogs have been beaten during the race when they were too tired or otherwise unwilling to continue running. And there are numerous examples of dogs suffering injuries, exhaustion and other illnesses.

I urge you to take a stand against the savage cruelty of the dog sledding industry and pull your sponsorship of the 2011 Iditarod immediately. No one should be cashing in on the suffering -- and the all-too-often savage slaughter -- of dogs forced to mush. As long as you continue to fund the Iditarod, the blood of these abused animals remains on your hands.

Sincerely....


Thank you for everything you do for animals!