Rep. Young is wrong about the Iditarod being a slice of Alaskan culture ("Bear baiting prop sparks debate over what's a fair chase," Oct. 8). The Iditarod is a morally bankrupt race run by people who won't tell the true story about the cruelties the dogs suffer.
They promote the race as a commemoration of sled dogs saving the children of Nome by bringing diphtheria serum from Anchorage in 1925. However, the co-founder of the Iditarod, Dorothy Page, said the race was not established to honor the sled drivers and dogs who carried the serum. In fact, 600 miles of this serum run was done by train and the other half was done by dogs running in relays, with no dog running over 100 miles. This isn't anything like the Iditarod.
The dogs are not the invincible animals Iditarod officials portray. Here's a short list of what happens to the dogs during the race: death, localized crippling, penile frostbite, bleeding ulcers, broken bones, pneumonia, torn muscles and tendons, diarrhea, vomiting, hypothermia, fur loss, broken teeth, stomach viruses, torn footpads, ruptured discs, sprains and lung damage.
On average, 53 percent of the dogs who start the race do not make it across the finish line. According to a report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, of those who do finish, 81 percent have lung damage. According to the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 48.5 percent of the dogs who participate in the Iditarod have ulceration, tissue erosion, gastric hemorrhage, or a combination of these findings.
Humane Alaskans realize that the Iditarod is dog torture and are ashamed that the race exists.
Sled Dog Action Coalition