Wag the Sled Dog: Industry Misconceptions
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org


Sled Dogma.org
March 2015

[NOTE: There are laws in at least 38 states against over-driving and over-working animals, which is exactly what the Iditarod does. The Alaska cruelty statue that would apply to the sled dogs was changed in 2008 to exempt them.]

Action Alert: End the Iditarod March 7, 2015

Industry lies and responses:

#1 Sled dogs are working dogs and somehow differ from other dogs.

sled dog cruelty

This is, simply put, a lie. It is a dog's living and working conditions which distinguish him/her as a "sled dog." Chain up any medium to large sized dogs, attach them to little plywood boxes, and you'll have yourself some "working dogs."

In Alaska's Matanuska-Susitna Valley mushers designated a "Sled Dog Special Use District" in which sled dogs were defined specifically as "livestock."

Commercial sled dogs spend most of their lives tethered to five-foot chains.

Check out this footage of an Iditarod racer's kennel: Dream an Iditarod Dream

#2 Sled dogs love to run...Trust us!

sled dog cruelty

Most dogs love to run. Certainly dogs who live on chains the majority of their lives enjoy running too. But dragging an ATV through frozen muddy puddles...drinking whatever water they can find...knowing if you stop you'll be sorry...Maybe that isn't so fun for the dogs? 

#3 Professional dog racers take good care of their dogs.

Another popular misconception. Long distance professional racers tend to be the hardest on their animals. Check out Sled Dog Action Coalition for more detailed information about the sled dog industry and its role in perpetuating dog abuse and exploitation.

#4 Sled dogs get top notch veterinary care.

sled dog cruelty

Some of them do however many do not. Given the large number of dogs bred into commercial kennels, most mushers and tour operators cannot even afford to provide basic veterinary care for their animals. Sick and injured animals are typically euthanized or left to suffer and die in misery.

#5 There's nothing I can do to help change the situation.

There are things you can do to help sled dogs!!! 

  • Check out the Sled Dogma videos on YouTube and refer them to others.

  • Write to event sponsors and promoters and encourage them to stop all support of commercial sled dog activities.

  • Contact your federal, state and local legislators. Urge them to adopt anti-chaining laws and to strengthen existing laws against animal abuse and neglect.

  • Adopt a shelter pet and have it spayed or neutered. Do not support commercial puppy mills and breeders.

Return to Animal Rights Articles