Woman dies after tree hits power line

Group tries to find new homes for musher's dogs

Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2007

FAIRBANKS - A Salcha woman was electrocuted when a tree she was cutting fell on a power line, Alaska State Troopers said.

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The woman has not been positively identified but the body was found on property belonging to musher Martina Ann Delp, 33.

Delp operated Long Haul Kennels and had more than 30 dogs on her two acres. Many were rescued or being rehabilitated, said friend and co-worker Donna Buck-Davis.

Buck-Davis said Loving Companions Animal Rescue is spearheading the effort to find foster homes for Delp's dogs until they can be adopted.

"We're trying to make sure they're cared for and to make sure they're OK," Buck-Davis said.

Delp failed to show up for work Saturday with the Alaska Air National Guard at Eielson Air Force Base. Salcha Search and Rescue went to her property and found the body about two-tenths of a mile from her home.

Troopers said the woman had been cutting down trees near the power line. The tree that fatally injured the woman also started a small ground fire, troopers said.

Troopers sent the body to the State Medical Examiners office for positive identification.

Troopers were able to locate Delp's family members Sunday in the Lower 48, they said.

Notices went out on the Alaska Dog Mushing Association Web site soliciting help and support for Delp's dogs.

On Delp's Web site for Long Haul Kennel, she wrote that her mission "is to educate people about northern breed dogs as working dogs and pets, offer programs and resources to help strengthen the bond and enhance the relationship between animal and owner, promote responsible pet ownership, retention, population control and a no-kill community."

Delp wrote on her Web site that her love of dogs started in the late 1990s when she worked as a long-haul truck driver. She decided to get a dog to join her on her cross-country trips.

She was called back to service by the Air National Guard at Eielson after the Sept. 11, 2001, East Coast terror attacks, and she moved to Alaska. She wrote that she began volunteering at the animal shelter and became aware of the number of sled dogs surrendered by mushers each year.

Because Delp ran a no-kill shelter, Buck-Davis said, she is working to place Delp's animals with foster owners in hopes that none of the dogs will have to go to the Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Shelter at a time when the shelter already has other sled dogs waiting for adoption.

Salcha is an unincorporated community of about 950 on the Richardson Highway, 33 miles south of Fairbanks.

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