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Iditarod race is dog torture, cruelty



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June 15, 2011 - Dear editor

(In response to: "Alaska bound: Local qualifies for Iditarod," The Citizen, June 4, page 1):

Surely, if Joe Gutowski knew that dogs suffer in the Iditarod, he'd stay in Hadley.

Imagine the suffering dogs endure while racing 1,000 miles in the Iditarod with wind-chill factors as low as minus 50° F, battered by hurricane force winds, over slippery ice, down steep gorges with drops of hundreds of feet, and through icy water with little or no rest.

At least 142 dogs have died in the Iditarod, including two dogs on a doctor's team who froze to death in the brutally cold winds. What happens to dogs during the race includes death, paralysis, frostbite (where it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, broken bones, torn muscles and tendons and sprains.

According to the Jan-Feb 2010 Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, dogs running in the Iditarod have substantially decreased numbers of antibodies in their systems. Without an adequate number of antibodies, a dog can't fight off infections. A report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine said that 81 percent of the dogs who cross the finish line have lung damage. Another study found that the lung damage was persistent.

If the dogs could talk, they'd say the Iditarod is dog torture.

Margery Glickman, Director

Sled Dog Action Coalition

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