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An Open Letter to the 2017 Iditarod Race Sponsors - National Humane Education Society

Dear 2017 Sponsors of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race,

Today, the men and women who compete in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race reap sizable cash prizes from the sponsorship of companies like yours. Every company wants to invest in sponsorship opportunities that provide good publicity, benefit communities, and do good in the world. None of these goals can be achieved when animals are harmed, as they are in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

On the Iditarod, canine sled teams travel between 70 and 100 miles per day through some of the harshest conditions on Earth. Ailing dogs are regularly dropped from the race due to injury, illness, and exhaustion. Of the 16 dogs comprising a single team, fewer than half may reach the finish line in Nome. However, that does not necessarily mean the dropped dogs are immediately evacuated to a clinic. In 2013, 5-year-old “Dorado” was dropped at a checkpoint by his musher after he became too physically exhausted to continue, but Dorado was not even brought indoors. Instead, Dorado and about thirty other dogs were chained out in the cold. The following morning, Dorado’s stiff, dead body was found buried under a snow drift. A later necropsy showed he had asphyxiated to death. 


While Dorado’s death was bad enough, five dogs perished as a direct result of their participation in the 2017 Iditarod in March.  In 2009, six dogs died. It is true that many volunteer veterinarians provide assessments and treatment to the dogs during the race. However, this is not adequate to prevent the suffering, injury, or even deaths of the dogs. Like auto mechanics at a NASCAR race, the veterinarians are there to serve the teams, not to rescue individual dogs.

When not training or racing, many are kept in kennels or on chains outside. Puppies who do not make the grade and dogs retired from racing may find themselves relinquished to animal shelters. In Alaska, animal care laws do not apply to competitive sled dogs.

No dog deserves to live his or her daily life on a chain, and no dog should be forced to risk his or her life and well-being to win prizes and fame for humans. In light of these realities,  I hope your corporate leadership will consider not just the price paid by your company, but by the dogs who have no choice, and thereby end your financial support of the Iditarod.

With much appreciation,

Megan Flinn, Humane Education Coordinator
The National Humane Education Society

List of 2017 Iditarod Sled Dog Race Sponsors

Donlin Gold
Exxon Mobile
Anchorage Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram
Wells Fargo
Bristol Bay Native Corporation
Pen Air The Spirit of Alaska
Alaska Airlines
The LakeFront Anchorage
NAC – Northern Air Cargo
City of Nome, Alaska
Alaska Gasline Development Corp
Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska
Providence Alaska Medical Center
Coca Cola
State Farm Insurance
Alaskan Brewing Company
Alaska Serigraphics
Alcan Signs
Iridium Satellite Communications
Jack Daniels
Golden Corral


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3 responses to “An Open Letter to the 2017 Iditarod Race Sponsors”

  1. Lynn Payne says:

    Stop dog sledding and all it’s abuser from chaining dogs to profiting off these dogs with no thought of there care or feelings So sad

  2. Dan says:

    Can’t the race be modified ? Make it a relay race, like the original serum run to Nome. Increase the number of mandatory rests. Disqualify mushers who don’t maintain good kennels – unannounced spot inspections could help. But don’t end the race entirely.

  3. Juan Esteban, PA-C, NREMT-P says:

    It’s now 2020 and several of these companies are no longer sponsoring this barbaric absurdity. However, as a PA and a Paramedic, I was shocked to learn that Providence Alaska Medical Center was a sponsor. As healthcare providers we know better. We would not chain a person overnight, outside in Alaska so we should not supporting those who do it to dogs. My beliefs have cost me more than one job but life goes on. At some point, somewhere you have got to take a stand!

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