Enhanced videotape fails to identify musher

Posted: Wednesday, January 19, 2000

ANCHORAGE - A videotape has failed to identify the musher who was filmed abusing a dog during the Copper Basin Sled Dog Race and organizers say that means they never may know the person's identity.

Race officials had hoped that enhancing the video would help them determine the number on the armband of the offending musher.

``We've narrowed it down pretty good,'' Race Marshal John Van Zyle told the Anchorage Daily News. ``But we still don't know who it is. It may never get resolved.''

But race officials still hope to catch the person involved and they're encouraging anyone with any information about the incident to call them, he said.

The tape surfaced shortly after the finish of the Copper Basin race earlier this month. It shows the musher striking and kicking a dog on a section of trail near the Richardson Highway between Gakona and Glennallen.

``There's a hit, not just a cuff. There's that a couple times, and then there's a punch,'' Van Zyle said.

The quality of the tape was poor, but that it clearly shows the armband that mushers wear while competing in the race, race officials said.

The tape was taken by an Alyeska Pipeline Co. surveillance camera.

Race officials have said that if they find the guilty party, the musher will be fined $1,000 and would be banned for life from the Copper Basin race. They also will work to get the musher banned from other sled dog races around the state.

``They could tell me the sky is falling, and we don't care,'' Van Zyle said. ``There is no explanation (for the abuse).''

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