PETA wrong


seavey kennel

Dallas Seavey’s kennel/photo Handler X

An investigation by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough into an animal-care complaint filed by a dog there handler has cleared the kennel of four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race champion Dallas Seavey of Willow of any wrongdoing.

“This complaint is absolutely false,”  Iditarod race veteran and borough Mayor Vern Halter said in a statement on Wednesday.

People for the Ethic Treatment of Animals (PETA) tried to claim credit for the complaint, and the Borough tried to reinforce that idea.

“The person who complained gave the complaint to PETA before filing it with (Mat-Su) Animal Care,” Halter, an Iditarod veteran musher said in his statement. “PETA, an international animal rights activist group, emailed Animal Care first.”

The paperwork, however, is signed by the dog handler. Friends say PETA tried to use her for its publicity advantage. PETA has described the complainant as a”whistleblower.”

She is Seavey “Handler X” who fled the Seavey kennel on Friday upset by what she had seen there over the course of months. She was fearful and looking for help when interviewed by She is 22 years old and came north from a Western state where she worked for another musher.

“I’ve always wanted to run the Iditarod,” she said in a telephone interview.

Her identity is being protected here because she fears retaliation if anyone learns she is the person who reported the kennel of an Iditarod champion, though she does not hold Seavey personally responsible.

“I saw Dallas maybe three times,” she said. “He was trying to move to Talkeetna. He actually hires people. He doesn’t train any dogs by himself.”

What she described witnessing at the kennel was not so much animal abuse as the sort of cavalier neglect once common to many Alaska kennels, especially those in rural areas.

“I’ve seen so many dead puppies in the last five months,” she said, but most of them weren’t killed by people. As an example, she cited a young female that bred accidentally. Nobody wanted anything to do with the female’s  puppies because they were an accident, and the mother was not capable of taking care of them.

The woman said she took them and cared for them until one of the kennel managers took them away from her.

“He said he’d take care of them,” she said. “He put them in with the mother, and she smothered them.”

Other puppies died when the people working at the kennel refused to take them to see a veterinarian just because they were sick, she said.

Handler X

A couple of weeks ago, the young woman started talking to others in the Willow area about what was happening at the Seavey kennel and how she could leave and what she might do to save yet more sick puppies. How she hooked up with PETA is unclear, but Ashley Keith, a former handler for Mitch Seavey, appears to be involved.

Keith did not enjoy her experience with the Sterling musher, Dallas’s father, and left years ago. She later started a website called Humane Mushing, which “emphasizes being guardian (rather than owner) to a small number of dogs and including these dogs in your everyday life as members of your family just as you would any other dog.”

Seavey “Handler X” appeared to share those views at least to the extent she thought dogs deserved better treatment than livestock.

“Handler X” described herself as a “military brat” who had grown up always on the move with her parents. She got her first dog from a Fairbanks musher when she was 14, she said, and started to learn about sled dogs by bikejoring, which involves being towed by a dog in harness while on a bike.

“She was my main means of transportation,” the woman said.

She made a connection with the Seavey kennel via another musher on Facebook. She had many mushing friends on Facebook, she said, and one day she posted “what is my favorite thing?”

A Seavey handler answered with “dogs,” and they formed an online relationship leading to what she thought was to be her dream job. It didn’t work out that way.

By her second week at the kennel, she said, she concluded “my God this place is horrible.”

Still, she said, she did not blame Seavey.

“I believed that Dallas was a good person,” she said, but his handlers were not so good.

“They let seven puppies die from one litter,” she said, and they were always breeding more.

“They wanted to have them for the tourists,” she said. “They just wanted to breed them for the tourists.”

Before leaving the Seavey kennel, she said, she talked to her former boss back in the states. That musher has run Alaska huskies for decades and operates a tour business in the Rocky Mountains,

“My boss was like, ‘Come home,'” the young woman said.

The young woman admitted Friday night that she didn’t know what to do. She was fearful that if she didn’t report what was going on at the kennel some sick puppies would die.

The enemy of my enemy

Sometimes over the weekend, however, she ended up in the embrace of PETA. Some of those in the Willow area who had been trying to help here were upset.

They feared that if PETA got involved the situation would rapidly become politicized, and the conditions for the dogs might get worse, not better.

Sled-dog kennel management in Alaska is a very touchy subject. Standards vary widely from kennel to kennel, and sled dogs in the Mat-Su valley are not “pets.”

 “‘Livestock’ includes, but is not limited to, domestic animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, and other animals normally considered farm animals, whether kept for profit or not, as well as sled dogs housed at a licensed mushing facility, or sled dogs owned by the owner or licensee of a licensed mushing facility, whether kept for profit or not,” borough code says.

“‘Mushing facility’ means a facility in the borough where sled dogs are housed and maintained, which has been duly licensed by the borough as a mushing facility….”

PETA is on record as opposing all sled-dog racing and has called the Iditarod “the most notorious of races.”  Dallas Seavey, who was found with a doped dog team after the end of the Iditarod in Nome this year, has suggested PETA or some other animal-rights organization might be responsible for that, though no one has produced any evidence PETA had anything to do with the doping.

Everyone agrees the drug with which the dogs were doped – tramadol – is not what one would normally consider to be a “performance enhancing drug.” Seavey said he didn’t give the dogs the drug and has suggested it could have hampered his Iditarod.

The Iditarod’s biggest up and coming star, the 30-year-old finished second to his 59-year-old father. Dallas described his dogs as being unusually tired by the time they reached the finish-line of the 1,000-mile race across the wilds of Alaska.

“…After the finish in Nome…we talked to another vet that we’ve worked with in the past,” he said in an interview with KTVA-TV in Anchorage. “…Our crew and that vet were working closely together because (the dogs) seemed…down.”

Later, Dallas said, after he was informed of the tramadol in his dogs, “it was like, ‘Oh, now I see what was going on. They were hit with a heavy sedative.’ So we had them on heavy electrolyte. We were trying to get them to bounce back. Dogs that are usually very animated and perky aren’t wanting to get up and eat. Um, something was strange. And it was a short window. We got them on the electrolytes.We got them on all this stuff, and they seemed to bounce back. It’s like, ‘OK, maybe it was just a hard race.’ But I’ve never seem them finish like that, or after the finish be like that. And that was a bit concerning.”

PETA went on the offensive as soon as the Dallas Seavey doping positive was announced eight months after the race, and it upped the ante this week with a series of attacks on Dallas Seavey’s kennel that came complete with photos.

The photos came from Whistleblower X and showed the kennel, injured dogs, reportedly dying puppies, and a reported puppy burial ground. 

The Mat-Su Borough found no evidence to support anything improper related to those photos.

CORRECTION: An early version of this story said the complaint was filed against the Seavey kennel by PETA. Matanuska-Susitna Borough paperwork lists a Seavey handler as the complainant. PETA, however, tried to claim credit.





45 replies »

  1. Since PETA is a notorious liar, and an organization that has been charged with theft from taking a pet dog off a porch and then euthanizing it, and their spokesmen have stated they will do whatever it takes to gain their goals, including lying, then I doubt that PETA can be used as any kind of serious responsible organization. Animal rights organizations are notorious in terms of speaking out against ANY organization, individual, or entity that works with or uses animals in any way, and that includes service animals that help the blind!!!

    • Actually, Laurella, I delved into this story of the theft from a porch. It looked bad to me, too, until I uncovered the truth.

      “The facts appear be that PETA was asked to help when an adjacent landowner reported that they should see how his cow with her udders ripped up from abandoned and stray dogs in the trailer park area amounted to a menace not to be tolerated. He complained to PETA that the abandoned and stray dogs attacked his livestock, injured his milking cow, killed his goat and terrorized his rabbits.

      “Abandoned and/or stray dogs and cats have appeared to have been considerable in what is known as Dreamland 2. PETA responded and the trailer park management encouraged their efforts in an attempt to gather stray/abandoned cats and dogs. Additionally the leases provided that no dogs were allowed to run free in the trailer park.
      Approximately three weeks before Mr. Cerate’s dog [Maya] was taken by the women associated with PETA, Mr. Cerate asked if they would put traps under his trailer to catch some of the wild cats that were in the trailer park, and traps were provided to him as requested. Additionally, parties associated with PETA provided Mr. Cerate with a dog house for two other dogs that were tethered outside of Mr. Cerate’s home.

      “On or about October 18 a van that was operated by the ladies associated with PETA arrived the at the trailer park. The van was clearly marked PETA and in broad daylight arrived gathering up what abandoned stray dogs and cats could be gathered. Among the animals gathered was the Chihuahua of Mr. Cerate. Unfortunately the Chihuahua wore no collar, no license, no rabies tag, nothing whatsoever to indicate the dog was other than a stray or abandoned dog. It was not tethered nor was it contained. Other animals were also gathered. Individuals living in the trailer park were present and the entire episode was without confrontation. Mr. Cerate was not at home and the dog was loose, sometimes entering the shed/porch or other times outside in the trailer park before he was put in the van and carried from the park. The dogs owned by Mr. Cerate that were tethered were not taken.”

      There is a lot more regarding PETA, but let me tell you about MY experiences, and that includes personally finding out about abuse, and even torture, of service dogs BEHIND THE SCENES. So, if you are involved with using dogs, we can definitely have a conversation.

  2. Well… I dont really bave a dog in this fight (pun intended) as I dont follow the Iditarod, or any other dog racing. That said, even though I could not possibly care less about this particular topic, I enjoy most of the other topics Craig covers, and appreciate the time and resources he puts forth in writing these articles! Good work Craig!

    • that’s all very good Sue, but what is the source you’re quoting? i’m sure PETA must have done some good somewhere, but it does seriously bend the truth and lot of its nonsense is just silly. humanely killing things is not “cruelty.” it’s civilization, which establishes standards for killing unlike those in the natural world where most of the killing is brutal, savage and, yes, cruel. i’m always remembered of the words of biologist friend after Timmy Treadwell’s flirtation with loving grizzly bears came to a tragic end….”bears don’t kill; they eat.”

      • The information comes from Accomack County commonwealth’s attorney Gary Agar. While I am not 100% in step with PETA (I was before the departure co-founder Alex Pacheco), I support their basic premise of not tormenting or torturing other animals for our own selfish desires. I’m a whistleblower, so I know all about that scenario, and what a dangerous position that can be to be in.

      • “Things”?? Ugh. Besides that, you ever hear of human-on-human savagery, prolonged torture, murder for kicks, especially of tiny children? Boy do you have a rosy picture of humanity. Also, you need to watch Earthlings, and much else.

    • Sorry, I hadn’t read the article before commenting (in mad rush), so my earlier condemnation of the author was wrong; but the videos are a must-see, and no, those people are not just a couple of “bad apples.”

      • Well, on 2nd thought, after reading Craig’s reply to Sue of November 5, 2017 at 9:36 pm, maybe I apologized too soon? Ah well, over and out.

  3. In a N.Y. Times article by The Associated Press Nov. 2, 2017, the inspector, Borough Animal Care officer Nick Uphus, stated that he gave the Seavey kennels advance notice of the inspection. Therefore, what does one expect when the kennel hands have time to clean up their act? Also, what does one expect when the inspector said “It’s a pretty nice facility”? Just look at the way the dogs are housed,–disgusting.

    In the same article, in response to Halter’s statement: “This complaint is absolutely false,” PETA spokesman David Perle said in an email to The Associated Press, “It’s appalling and yet, also telling, that Mat-Su Mayor Vern Halter, a musher himself, considers cruel conditions such as chaining dozens of dogs to plastic barrels to be a ‘high standard of care,’ not to mention the specific cruelties purported, such as dogs with gaping wounds and bloody diarrhea and sick and dying dogs denied veterinary care, as shown in the evidence provided.”

    • It’s absurd to claim the photos and captions on PETA’s blog are “evidence.” As I detailed in a previous post, there are things wrong with the photos and/or captions, things that don’t make logical sense.

      • Stupid. When you get phone calls and the story is bad, you ask your kid to document with videos and photos. I have all of them. Its horrendous and its coming out. Non of you have seen anything yet.

    • Lucy: listen to Lisbeth. she knows of what she speaks here. there’s no sense having a discussion if people don’t want to stick to the truth, and PETA has a bad reputation for distorting the truth.

      • Craig,
        let’s remember that PETA was just the messenger since no one else would break the story of Handler X and the abuse she witnessed…I am not flying the flag for PETA, but the allegations brought forward by the handler who stepped forward are substantial….for instance a “unattended kennel” at Seavey’s Talkeetna location is a threat to children in the area that can wander in and get tangled in the chains of sled dogs…plus borough code makes this illegal, so I believe this is why animal control called ahead and did not do the right thing which would have been a random inspection the night the complaint came in…they figured by calling ahead and giving the kennel a day to “clean up” there would be no violations to report….classic Iditarod collusion here in da Valley!

  4. Nitpicking at the whistleblower or at PETA does not change the fact that keeping dogs in these conditions, driving them over 1,000 miles to win money and prizes for yourselves (and some sort of twisted, and undeserved, ego gratification) is cruel and selfish. It needs to stop, unless the mushers want to trade places with the dogs. THAT I would pay to see!

    • The points I raised are serious ones. The truth matters greatly. PETA does animals a grave disservice when it uses hyperbole or lies.
      I oppose the Iditarod and how dogs are treated in musher kennels, but I’m not going to lie or distort.

      I wonder if PETA showed that blog post to its lawyers before they published it

      • No, the bigger point IS that this whole Iditarod shebang is cruelty to animals, and the big distortions, and lies, come from the people who stand to benefit from continuing to use, chain, overdrive, “cull,” drug, and all otherwise cause misery to dogs.

    • Mushers and the Iditarod lie and distort. But that doesn’t make it the right for PETA to do those things, too. When people realize that PETA lies and distorts, it reflects very poorly on the organization. People then disbelieve what PETA says, and they’re not inclined to give money. Lies and distortions leave the organization wide open to lawsuits.

      • Well then, if YOU believe there are lies and distortions, take it up with PETA. In my educated opinion, PETA’s expose’ is MILD, compared to all the rest that is covered up, and their assertions are absolutely correct in the over-all view of what is essentially an abomination. And then the mushers simply discuss among themselves the ramifications of drugging, breeding and culling, whipping, overdriving, etc. What a needless distraction! Shut the whole damned thing down!

      • Sue: you unfairly paint the majority of Iditarod participants with accusations that apply to a minority, probably a small minority. it’s like saying all animal rights advocates are terrorists because the ALF and the ELF has been defined by the FBI as such. try to keep your arguments here within reason. most Iditarod partipants AREN’T drugging, culling, over driving, and it’s been a long, long, long time since anyone was whipping.

      • I am so tired of hearing these so called defenses, which are used by participants in EVERY industry that has some perceived personal advantage to continue doing what they are doing.

        I’ve directly seen, and experienced, how far the perpetrators will go in order to try to shut-up a whistleblower. And, they won’t say anything against one another unless their activity is under threat and painted into a corner; and then they’ll say “It’s them, it’s not us. We don’t do that,” when before it never mattered to them what their colleagues were doing. And, in all the cases I’ve personally investigated, there are many shades of overlap, and a great deal of complicity and concealment.

        The fact IS that when sentient beings, who are unable to defend themselves and have little to no protections, fall into the hands of USERS, whose primary objective is to exploit them for their own financial remuneration, ideas of advancement and glory, etc., we will, and DO find that euphemisms, lies, and cover-ups are rampant.

      • Mitch Seavey on “Discipline and Negative Training”

        – from Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way

        “Fluffy, quit-your-screwing-around-you-miserable-excuse-of-a-fur-covered-garbage-disposal-before-I-whack-your-worthless-hiney-so-hard-you-will-need-two-stamps-to-send-back-a-postcard…”

        “When he doesn’t respond, stop, go up to the dog…and with a pre-selected willow stick about 1/2 inch in diameter and three feet long, give him a good whack on the butt…You have to whack him good too…If you are going to bother with this, it’s got to sting.”

    • PETA’s blog post contained lies, hyperbole and distortion. I’ve read about Iditarod dog cruelties and think the facts speak for themselves. PETA plays on people’s emotions to get donations, but that often backfires. The end does not justify the means. Integrity and truth matter. It’s bad enough PETA has killed animals.

  5. Handler X makes Dallas seem like an “absentee slum landlord.” She worked for Dallas for five months and only saw him three times. Did she talk to him about puppies being poorly treated and left to die? After all, he owns the dogs and the kennel. Ultimately, he’s responsible.

    Handler X took the photos. Did she also write the captions under them? But, in any case, since PETA published the photos with captions, they are completely responsible. You can see the photos and captions here: . Look at the photo of the dogs on the table. PETA says “they allegedly died later.” I don’t believe seven puppies would lie on a table stone-still, two with sponges in their mouths. Something is wrong with the picture and/or the story.

    The picture of the “puppy burial ground” could be just a piece of ground. I don’t see any dead dogs.

    Look at the photo of the dog who supposedly has an “oozing wound.” Then look at the top photo of Seavey’s kennel and then look at the “puppy burial ground.” In these photos we see either dirt or debris on the ground. But, the dog with the “oozing wound” has no dirt or debris stuck on him or her. Something is wrong with this photo and/or caption.

    I’m troubled by the lack of legal clarity regarding how sled dogs should be treated in Mat-Su. The law in the borough classifies sled dogs as livestock. As livestock, logically the care of sled dogs would be be covered by Alaska’s Title 3. Agriculture and Animals. Sec. 03.55.100 Minimum standards of care for animals. (a) The minimum standards of care of animals. (3) reasonable medical care at times and to the extent necessary to maintain the animal in good health. Under this provision, Dallas Seavey and other mushers in Mat-Su violate the law if they don’t keep all their animal in good health. But mushers are exempted from Alaska Statutes Title 11. Criminal Law §11.61.140. Cruelty to Animals. Which law governs?

    • Okay listen we are troubled that the so-called sled dog action coalition is a front for PETA and regret contacting them. Handler-X is an honest person who i extracted under serious circumstances. I have all the photographs and will be interviewing her this weekend. For some reason as we read this together, we see things she never said and things not included. I can guarentee any of you that this was a true nightmare. Dallas Seavey will be held accountable and his so called manager and so called handlers will be too. This is hardly and barely the tip of a very big iceberg. A lot more than is reported here happened, and not just to dogs.

  6. But really, these dogs are treated like raw material or equipment, discarded the moment they’re deemed useless. That’s not the way to treat a living, breathing being.

    • I find it laughable for someone to claim that they didn’t know who the sled dog action coalition is. I’ve only been following the Iditarod for a couple of years, live in the lower 48 and have never seen a sled dog in person. And yet I’ve known who the sled dog action coalition was since the beginning due to the preposterous crap they attempt to post on the Iditarod pages during the race each year. Who doesn’t know who they are? Impossible to take your post seriously – including any of your allegations.

  7. “Other puppies died when the people working at the kennel refused to take them to see a veterinarian just because they were sick, she said.”

    Yes, allowing sick animals to die without veterinary care is abuse. Why is this cruel race still happening?

  8. Oh yeah, and there’s no steroids in baseball either. No one should make excuses for the Iditarod. It’s cruel, plain and simple. Dogs suffer during the race and “behind the scenes.” Even those that aren’t drugged. Many become sick, injured, or exhausted and suffer from stress pneumonia, pulled muscles, gastric ulcers, and other illnesses and injuries. We have a choice between compassion and cruelty—why don’t we all opt for compassion and stop forcing dogs to participate in this cruel race.

    • Heather: have you seen the Iditarod? if not, i suggest you do so before making these kinds of comments. most of the dogs there clearly appear to be enjoying what they’re doing.

  9. It seems the whistleblower’s very serious allegations have been dismissed rather blithely. This would not be the first incidence of dogs being terribly neglected and even killed in the dog-racing industry. When animals are a means to an end (winning races, money, bragging rights), their well-being pays the price.

    • this is not the first time either that an Iditarod handler has come forward with stories of abuse, here is a copy of Jane Steven’s story from a few years ago…

      Dog’s Beating Left Me Appalled, Sick and Shocked

      – Jane Stevens, Whitehorse Star 02/23/11

      “As a dog handler at a private kennel location in Alaska, I witnessed the extremely violent beating of an Iditarod racing dog by one of the racing industry’s most high-profile top 10 mushers. Be assured the beating was clearly not within an ‘acceptable range’ of ‘discipline’.

      Indeed, the scene left me appalled, sick and shocked.

      After viewing an individual sled dog repeatedly booted with full force, the male person doing the beating jumping back and forth like a pendulum with his full body weight to gain full momentum and impact.

      He then alternated his beating technique with full-ranging, hard and fast, closed-fist punches like a piston to the dog as it was held by its harness splayed onto the ground.

      He then staggeringly lifted the dog by the harness with two arms above waist height, then slammed the dog into the ground with full force, again repeatedly, all of this repeatedly.”

  10. Sarcasm alert: Gee, and here I thought that the dogs were treated like commodities and mushers like Dallas Seavey only cared about winning.

  11. Oh please! Everyone knows that these dogs are treated like equipment, living outdoors, chained on a 6 foot chain, with no quality of life. Dogs are killed when they don’t or can’t run fast “enough.”

  12. Dallas Seavey directly profits from his dogs, and he is the legal owner of these dogs. I don’t care if he’s not there to actually see it or to train dogs, he is where the buck stops. If he wanted to change conditions, he could.

  13. Thank you for pointing out the livestock thing. It’s so sad that these dogs can be neglected and left to die and still not receive any legal protection, simply because they are sled dogs in Alaska. We’re working on that. There’s also a petition so that dogs like Dallas Seavey’s can be protected from abuse and neglect in the future:

    Join the 163,000+ people asking for sled dogs to stop being exempted from Alaska’s animal cruelty laws at

    Join the 20,000+ people at The Animal Rescue Site who are asking the same.

    We are pushing for a day when these kind of conditions (attached) are no longer considered acceptable in Alaska, or the dog mushing community.

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