Dogs on a short chain attached to a box – that’s what you’ll see on nearly every social media account of Iditarod mushers. Forcing dogs outside in all extreme weather is industry standard, and if mushers publicly post such photos online, imagine what they’re doing behind the scenes.
The photos of the Iditarod mushers speak for themselves
Almost every musher who raced in the 2022 Iditarod either openly posted pictures of their dogs chained up outside or asked visitors to their kennel to post them. Of the nearly 50 mushers at the 2022 Iditarod, only two didn’t have pictures of dogs chained up outside – and that’s probably only because they have no social media presence. In many of the images below, the dogs have carved a circle in the ground by pacing on the end of their chain or turning in circles. The barking and excited tail wagging are likely responses to mental stimulation that they rarely receive. Take a look at some of the photos posted by mushers and see how the dogs used for sledding are suffering:
Jessie Holmes from Nenana, Alaska– a musher with a history of cruel “training” practices – was responsible for letting several dogs loose in a hotel parking lot after the conclusion of the 2022 Iditarod, and the dogs killed the pet dog of a local woman.
Dallas Seavey from Talkeetna, Alaska, has a record of animal abuse as long as the Iditarod Trail itself. Dogs raced by him have tested positive for opioids, his kennel has been accused of killing dogs deemed not ideal for racing, and a whistleblower has reported finding dying puppies on his property.
Michelle Phillips of Tagish, Yukon, Canadaleft five dogs during the 2022 race because they were too injured, sick or exhausted to continue, forcing others to work even harder.
Travis Beals from Seward, Alaskawas suspended from competition in the Iditarod for “an indefinite period” after being charged with assault stemming from a domestic violence incident, according to the New York Daily News. Allegedly, that was not the first time he had physically injured his partner. Beals’ suspension only lasted a year.
Paige Drobny from Cantwell, Alaskaapparently dozed off during this year’s race while forcing her dogs to keep pulling her and her sled.
Hugh Neff from Anchorage, Alaska, was reportedly forced out of the 2022 Iditarod after the dogs he was forcing to run – described as “skinny” and apparently suffering from diarrhea – were found in such poor condition that they could not continue. This notorious musher was banned from the 2019 Iditarod after forcing a dog to pull a sled until his body broke down and he inhaled his own vomit during the Yukon Quest, an equally cruel event.
Matthew Failor from Willow, Alaskaleft seven dogs behind after pushing them beyond their limits in the 2022 Iditarod. He also allegedly shot and killed a moose he encountered on the trail – a murder that surely never would have happened had it not been for the Iditarod.
Bridgett Watkins of Fairbanks, Alaska, had four dogs who were badly injured by a moose while training before the start of the Iditarod. The dogs would have needed emergency surgery.
Richie Diehl from Aniak, Alaska, gave up his dog Jimbo from competition at the 2022 Iditarod. Jimbo reportedly escaped from the “abandoned dog” area in Anchorage and was on the loose for more than a day, likely scared and alone. Diehl also admitted he dropped out of the 2020 Iditarod because five dogs were coughing and showing early signs of pneumonia.
Brent Sass from Eureka, Alaska—the 2022 Iditarod ‘winner’ – shared a disturbing video of dogs covered in snow and ice racing in the searing wind with, as he described, their faces ‘totally entrenched in the snow’ and their eyes “all frozen shut”.
—PETA (@peta) March 18, 2022
Mats Pettersson from Kiruna, Swedenapparently keeps his dogs in pens with holes just big enough to stick their heads through and reach their food bowls.
Chaining and sloppyness are industry standards in dog sledding
There is no “sled dog”. Dogs used for sledding are like those we share our homes with: they love to run and play, appreciate attention and affection, and have physical limits to what they can endure. During the off-season, when they are not forced to run beyond their capacity, dogs used for sledding can rarely free themselves from their chain.
The Iditarod drives dogs to their breaking point
By the time the 2022 Iditarod ended on March 19, nearly 250 dogs had been pulled from the track due to exhaustion, illness, injury or other causes.
No dog deserves to spend his days at the end of a chain or risk his life to drag humans. Help PETA spread the message that dog sledding cruelty must end: