PETA opposes Iditarod By Kirk T. Albrecht People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a national organization for animal rights, officially opposes the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Calling the annual race “Ihurtadog,” PETA features its opposition in published materials, saying, “Hundreds of dogs are abused and exploited every year in Alaska’s Iditarod dog sled race—a grueling trek. “Today’s race has nothing in common with the original Iditarod, which was intended to deliver an emergency supply of diphtheria serum.” PETA continues, “Today’s participants are motivated by only one thing, the cash prize, and they will do almost anything to attain it.” PETA objects to the Iditarod “solely on cruelty concerns,” according to Jennifer O’Connor, an official spokesperson for the organization. “Dogs are considered as equipment, simply running machines, not living breathing creatures.” Objections by the animal rights group are two-fold: “Iditarod dogs are overworked, and the dog breeding industry supporting the Iditarod is inhumane. “ O’Connor points out that PETA objects strongly to the grueling aspects of the race, refusing to call the trek to Nome a “sporting” event. “The dogs do the vast majority of the physical labor; the dogs have to run the whole way. It doesn’t matter that severe winds, blizzards, extremely cold temperatures, treacherous ice and freezing water make the race so grueling. The dogs are simply overworked, some to death.” Breeding of dogs associated with the Iditarod raises the ire of PETA. “There is perpetual overbreeding,” according to O’Connor. “Not every dog born is a ruunner, so culling is normal. Those dogs that don’t make the grade are killed.” PETA publications note that “dogs pay a terrible price behind the scenes. [Dogs] are killed by bludgeoning or drowning – for not possessing monumental stamina and speed.” Critics of the Iditarod, including PETA, have noted the death of more than 120 dogs in the race since the first one in 1973. Some have even dubbed it “The I-Killed-A-Sled-Dog Race.” Musher Ramey Smyth, 29, of Big Lake, Alaska, the son of Iditarod veterans Bud Smyth and the late Lolly Medley, disagrees. He considers sled dogs “extraordinary athletes.” He calls those who believe sled dogs are abused “fools.” “These are the best cared-for dogs in the world,” he says. “My veterinary bill is about $15,000 to $20,000 a year.” The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals does not oppose sled dog racing, but worries about the dangers posed by the intense pace of the Iditarod. The ASPCA Vice President Stephen Zawistowski noted “general concerns,” but conditioned them with emphasis on those “dogs being pushed beyond their endurance or capabilities.” Dr. Stu Nelson, the Iditarod’s Chief Veterinarian, takes criticism by animal rights groups like PETA “personally, very personally,” calling such activist groups “Internet terrorists.” He vehemently returns the criticism, saying, “They’ve never spent one day caring for these dogs.” He observes that few have even been to Alaska; most have never seen a sled dog race.” Nome’s resident veterinarian, Dr. Derrick Leedy, disputes theallegation that the dogs are overworked. He says, “Most vets do not consider sled dogs abused. The dogs are willing and love to do what they do. Critics need to see the Iditarod in action.” From Nome Nugget online newspaper This is ridiculous!!!