21 February 2014

Alaska Dispatch: "Iditarod Makes Good"

"... on promise to change dog-drop procedures following 2013 dog death."

After its first dog death in four years, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is making good on its promise to improve care for dogs dropped during the 1,000-mile race across Alaska.

{snip} The changes stem from last year's death of Dorado, a 5-year-old husky from the team of Fairbanks rookie Paige Drobny in Unalakleet. Drobny had dropped Dorado in the first checkpoint on Alaska's western coast after he appeared to be running a little stiff.
Unalakleet residents cheer on the first musher to arrive at the coast during the 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. After a healthy dropped dog was found dead in the checkpoint last year, race organizers have made significant changes to how dropped dog care will be handled in the future. Loren Holmes photo
Mushers begin the race with a maximum of 16 dogs and must have at least six in their team when they finish in Nome. Mushers drop dogs for a variety of reasons, including sickness, muscle injuries or for race strategy. Dorado was held in Unalakleet with 135 other dogs last March, waiting to be flown out of the community, which serves as a collection point for dogs dropped from other checkpoints, when a fierce coastal storm swept in. 

While most dogs were relocated to an airplane hangar out of the storm, about 35 remained tethered outside in blowing snow and below-zero temperatures. Dorado was found the next morning buried in a snowdrift. The cause of death was asphyxiation.

Iditarod Executive Director Stan Hooley said in an email that the race spent months after the 2013 Iditarod formalizing and enhancing protocols for managing and caring for dropped dogs during the race. Thirteen new dog boxes capable of holding eight dogs apiece were built for Unalakleet and McGrath. Unalakleet already had six boxes, each able to hold five dogs.
 Read the rest at the link.

This is a very good thing. Alaskans know the love and care which mushers provide for their dogs, which provide their livelihoods, after all. But Outside agencies, who only show up when it's convenient, have been alleging abuses for years.

Even though they've never been able to prove it happens.

But now the dogs will taken better care of, when the racers mush on.


Old NFO said...

Good news, and a sad ending for Dorado...

Rev. Paul said...

Yes, and yes, NFO. Sled dogs tend to sleep in the open all the time, but - as I recall - he was in a semi-sheltered spot, and the snow blew and drifted across him until it was too deep. He never woke up.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Outsiders indeed. Long on opinions, short on pertinent information. Still, they expect to be taken seriously.

Rev. Paul said...

WSF - yes, they always do. And then they're forced to leave, disappointed. Heh.

SENIOR said...

Shame to hear what happened to Dorado. Sounds like things are getting corrected.

Stephen said...

Poor dog. Just wait until I get there with my little plastic sled.

Rev. Paul said...

Concur, Senior. Should be much better now.

I'm getting impatient, Stephen. Bring it! :)

Anonymous said...

Gotta love the do-gooders!



threecollie said...

Your new header! What a wonderful view. And it is good to see that the great race is getting better and better. Good for them.

Rev. Paul said...

gfa, I concur. The funniest bit was when PETA showed up here, a couple years back, to protest hunting - and then learned that 90% of the Native population literally lives off the land, and subsistence hunting is their lifestyle. PETA left quietly, no fanfare; they just weren't here, one day. :)

Thanks, threecollie. I like that header - and yes, the dogs deserve all that can be done for them.