Family feud

Tuesday on “As the Iditarod Turns:”  The Seaveys, the first family of Alaska dog mushing, strike back at the Schandelmeier/DeNures and accuse a former dog handler of being an animal-rights infiltrator.

First, the handler:

She is a twentysomething woman from the Lower 48. Her name is being shielded here because of threats of violence. has been able to find no evidence of a connection between the young woman and animal rights groups until after she fled the Seavey kennel.

Her former boss in Colorado, a dog musher who runs a small tour operation, described the former employee as someone full of good intentions and big Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race dreams. The woman took a job with the Seaveys in the belief that might lead to a chance to eventually run The Last Great Race.

Jen Seavey, the wife of four-time Iditarod champ Dallas Seavey, in a Tuesday Facebook post at Alaska Mushing News labeled the woman a “PETA activist.” PETA is the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a fringe group opposed to hunting, fishing, trapping, meat consumption, fish consumption, the Iditarod and more.

The handler’s former boss said the PETA charge is garbage. The boss says the woman is someone who worked at a small, family kennel in the Rocky Mountains with about 30 dogs. She went from that to an industrial, 100-dog kennel near Willow, a community about 80 miles north of the state’s largest city which is home to many dog mushers.

What the young woman encountered there upset her, her former boss said. The young woman did not like the nonchalance with which puppies born as the result of an “accidental breeding” were treated nor the fact dogs with injuries were taken on training runs because Seavey handlers were committed to sticking to the training schedules set out by their boss.

How they do it Outside

Basically, the Colorado dog musher said, the younger handler simply wasn’t prepared for how things are done in Alaska. The older woman in Colorado advised her former employee to see if she could find a job with a dog friendlier Willow-area kennel.

There are big variations in how Alaska sled-dog kennels treat dogs. In some, the dogs are family. In others, the dogs are working animals that undergo vigorous training in preparation for the Iditarod.

The best, and luckiest, of those dogs became Alaska heroes of a sort. The not-so-good, but lucky, are sold to recreational mushers or adopted out as pets. The rest aren’t always so lucky although a non-profit group called The August Foundation for Alaska’s Racing Dogs works to find homes for all the unwanted.

“What happens when a dog gets too old to race, or has a career-ending injury, or even doesn’t make the team?” the group’s website asks. “Many responsible mushers work with their fans to rehome their dogs whose racing career has ended, while others drop them on already over-burdened local shelters…or worse.”

The Seavey handler (she was interviewed by on the day she left the kennel) reportedly tried to make contact with The August Foundation, but eventually hooked up with Ashley Keith who runs a website called Humane Mushing.

The site is run by Ashley Keith. Keith is a former handler for Mitch Seavey of Sterling, the defending Iditarod champ and Dallas’s father. She quit her job after Mitch allegedly put down what was, in her words, “an older dog (that) was not eating, was dehydrated…and appeared to have intense abdominal pain.”

Keith appears to be the one who hooked the young woman up with PETA in hopes of providing her some protection. PETA subsequently filed a complaint with MatanuskaSusitna Borough animal control officials which investigated the Dallas Seavey kennel and said they found nothing wrong.

MatSu Mayor Vern Halter, an Iditarod veteran, subsequently declared the “complaint is absolutely false,”  although Valley mushers describe the difference between the Halter kennel and the Seavey kennel as “day and night.”


Jen Seavey’s take on all of this is that she and her 30-year-old husband, a four-time champ and Iditarod’s brightest rising star until he was discovered with doped dogs in March, were victimized by a kennel employee who was a plant.

She was “working at our kennel as an entry level handler since early September,” Jen wrote in the post she titled “The Dallas Seavey Saga.” “A few hours before (the complaint) was filed she abruptly packed her things and left the kennel sighting ‘a family emergency.’ It seems we were the target of an organized attempt by anti-mushing activists.”

Jen confessed that “it’s been a struggle to just keep our heads above water. Last night Dallas and I decided that this is not something we can or should do alone. It’s bigger than that. So, we will (be) posting regular updates to keep the Iditarod community in the loop. The Iditarod is our family, and family sticks together in tough times. We all need each other for support, sanity, levity, and yes, crisis management too.”

In multiple media interviews, Dallas has said he did not dope his dogs, that he was sabotaged, and that the Iditarod Trail Committee, the organizers of The Last Great Race, should have done more to protect him.

Instead,  he charged, the Iditarod left him hanging – a musher with a doped team the Iditarod couldn’t prove he doped but who was presumed guilty because he couldn’t prove he didn’t dope.

Jen promised that “we’ve assembled a team of experts to investigate the matter.”

Dallas thought that should have been the Iditarod’s job.

“What about the part where they could have proved that I was innocent and saved the sport?”  he asked in a videotaped interview with Alaska Dispatch News. 

The Seaveys have not responded for requests for comment here.


While battling the doping accusations on one front and the animal treatment accusations on another, the Seavey’s have also lashed out at John Schandelmeier and Zoya DeNure, who have been critical of the Seavey kennel.

Schandelmeier is a two-time winner of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, a 1,000-mile race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada that might be thought of as The Almost Last Great Race. DeNure, his wife, is a two-time Iditarod finisher.

DeNure fired the first shot at the Seaveys in an Oct. 25 blog post expressing her belief that “there have been hundreds on top of hundreds or more dogs –  dogs that didn’t make the cut- put down (culled ) routinely from his family kennels for several decades…and this practice continues. I believe this because I’ve heard stories first hand for over ten years from people from all walks of life who had tried their hands as a handler in his or his dad’s kennel.”

Jen, in a summary of this post, further inflated the number of dead in claiming “public statements were made on social media and blog posts alleging obscene, criminal animal abuse by Dallas and I including ‘shooting hundreds of dogs a week’ by an obscure mushing couple in Alaska, John Schandelmeier and Zoya Denure. These atrocious accusations from out of left field are shocking and disgusting.”

DeNure’s accusation of “hundreds on top of hundreds or more dogs” might be over the top, but dog deaths in the hundreds would not be, and they could be perfectly natural. The Seaveys – Dan, his son, Mitch; and Mitch’s sons Dallas and Danny – have been in the dog business for almost 45 years.

They have often managed kennels of more than 100 dogs, sometimes up to 200. Kennels of that size might produce 20 to 30 puppies or more every year. Mortality rates for puppies run up to 30 percent.

Nine puppies per year dying or needing to be put down over the course of 45 years adds up to a lot of puppies. Roll in a few dogs that need to be put down due to old age, add together multiple kennels, and the numbers can easily total into the hundreds.

But that alone just makes the Seavey kennel like other big kennels across the country raising sled dogs, retrievers, hounds or others.

Morals and ethics get very, very complicated when trying to define the standards for treatment of dogs in the United States. PETA with its belief that “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy” is at one end of the spectrum. At the other are the “dominant primordial beasts,” both human and canine, of which author Jack London wrote in “The Call of the Wild.”

And standards are always changing. The Call of the Wild is a northern classic, but someone who today treated the dogs in the way London described would probably end up in jail.

“As it was with Buck, so was it with his mates. They were perambulating skeletons. There were seven all together, including him. In their very great misery they had become insensible to the bite of the lash or the bruise of the club” London wrote. “The pain of the beating was dull and distant, just as the things their eyes saw and their ears heard seemed dull and distant. They were not half living, or quarter living. They were simply so many bags of bones in which sparks of life fluttered faintly. When a halt was made, they dropped down in the traces like dead dogs, and the spark dimmed and paled and seemed to go out. And when the club or whip fell upon them, the spark fluttered feebly up, and they tottered to their feet and staggered on.

“There came a day when Billee, the good-natured, fell and could not rise. Hal had traded off his revolver, so he took the axe and knocked Billee on the head as he lay in the traces, then cut the carcass out of the harness and dragged it to one side. Buck saw, and his mates saw, and they knew that this thing was very close to them. On the next day Koona went, and but five of them remained: Joe, too far gone to be malignant; Pike, crippled and limping, only half conscious and not conscious enough longer to malinger; Sol-leks, the one-eyed, still faithful to the toil of trace and trail, and mournful in that he had so little strength with which to pull; Teek, who had not travelled so far that winter and who was now beaten more than the others because he was fresher; and Buck, still at the head of the team, but no longer enforcing discipline or striving to enforce it, blind with weakness half the time and keeping the trail by the loom of it and by the dim feel of his feet.”










48 replies »

  1. Ive spoken to many people over the years that talk about mitch’s dog pit. People who saw it in person. People who worked for him. Based on eye whitness testimony, people get the death penalty.

  2. To Craig:
    Craig, I had sent you an email through Alaska Dispatch. I need to stand corrected, because I believe I made a wrong judgment concerning you. Just wanted to apologize. I left my cell phone number for you to call me, and you may do so if you would like to have a conversation with me. Sometimes emails just don’t communicate well. I think this article you have been trying to examine all aspects to this situation with the Seaveys. I do believe the Seaveys are innocent of any wrong doing claimed by PETA. But I try to keep an open mind, as you do, to examine things. So again, my apology for not really seeing where you were coming from in how you wrote your article. I think you did a great job writing it. And like I said, if you would like to contact me by phone, please feel free to do that. And sorry for going through Alaska Dispatch – I didn’t know how else to reach you and I was not aware of this blog site on your website until I posted my other comment here.

  3. a couple years ago, thru the onedogclass account, i made some healthy suggestions for rule changes for the iditarod and quest kennels
    (kennels of teams annually entered in either race) along the lines of
    1) mushers cannot be in business relationships with race staff, board of directors etc to avoid corruption and to keep equal playing field, (nordman jeff king land deal example of corruption, or nepotism of reddingtons working at headquarters) 2) mushers handlers must be treated as employees under local laws to minimize work place abuse, gurantee worker protection and human trafficking scenarios 3) kennel transparency (have a comprehensive website that shows where dogs come from and go in each kennel) so that large numbers of dogs are not culled, basically a step toward an enforcable no culling thing. and further show case what exactly is going on to fans, who a lot of times are ignorant to just how much a money game the long distance racing has devolved into.

    all of these rule changes: would ultimately protect and benefit , in my opinion. the actual mushers in the race. especially the ones who are hands on, and doing things themselves. and doing things the right way. and create a better future , in a constructive evolution sense. for the sport of mushing. and provide better guidelines and program in better practices for the young future generations of mushers coming up.

    i remember black and white, and thats how the rules are some times. working for a musher who was a multiple champion, and him shooting a dog for an injury, than later a similar aged dog ate part of a piece of rope, in transport, and him demanding that i pay the expensive several thousand dollar vet bill.

    the consistency issues, with the sport and the long distance kennels, whether its someone from a big family name, or a kennel in alasksa versus the states. or whether its ok for jeff king to have an ipod, or some dogs without houses, or to cull some dogs, but other people, whether its a brent, or a dallass or me back in the day. –> you know the lack of consistency on this stuff is what gives the sport a real precarious nature, and devolves it to the place its at. where there is a tremendous amount of inconsistency and double standards.

    sure there may be musher handlers coming from kennel x or y , upset about issues a b and c. but to actually address the issues, in my opinion. in a constructive intelligent way. is to suggest some rule changes, that eliminate or minimize the space for the problematic practices. and encourage the right sort of behaviors.

    just like training dogs, training people. look at all the good that came from a book , like joe runyans , but also all the bad. you know is very detailed programming in the culling etc.

    so yeah. i think, like jen seavey. that absolutely the races and the musher community, in a broad sense. has to sort of stand with the seaveys and be like look –> this is a young couple, grew up in teh sport. they have young people coming to work for them, we , as a sport, need to provide them with better protection and guidance in terms of ways to operate and run their business and manage their dogs.

    like dont be culling lots of dogs, make sure you treat your employees as employees the right way , and dont do business wiht officials, because , for better or worse it leads to corruption that hurts the

    equal playing field part of competition, which is the essence of it all.

    my idealism, actually sees the onedogclass competition and races , if and when they get going, as actually being an outlet for larger kennel breeding programs, to find working homes thru canicross andyouth type programs, skijor type endurance type races, for unwanted dogs from bigger kennels, that are not sold into other racing programs for racing purposes.

    • JT, I’m not sure where you get off commenting on this with your usual one-dog race tripe. Everyone knows you left 33 dogs staked in the wilderness of West Yellowstone with no food/water/shelter for DAYS and they ALL had to be removed and rehomed through the local animal shelter. Some of us have loooong memories about this stuff…

      • “A West Yellowstone man has been charged with animal cruelty for allegedly abandoning 33 sled dogs earlier this month near Targhee Pass, west of West Yellowstone. John T. Hessert was charged with one count of felony aggravated animal cruelty and 33 counts of animal cruelty. A veterinarian found they were “well below normal health,” and had not been fed enough. Court records say one of the dogs had a collar embedded in its neck and other dogs had frostbite.” – Montana News Station, July 14th 2008

      • Adelaide, Ashley: people do change. sometimes they actually learn from their mistakes and become better people. it was 9 years ago. let’s hope John Hessert is in a better place now in terms of dog care. but i hope he will have more to say here.

      • that was definitly a mess in montana there which i in my youth and sure a little disorganized was responsible for. there was a lot of confusion i think tho and a lot of b.s. that go published in the papers. it was definitly true that i was stuck for a couple days away from the dogs, had driven to wyoming to see part of the stage sled dog race, the highway back up to montana was closed due to a big storm that i had not predicted. and i had no one at that location to care for the dogs. for a few days. i think it was two. and i also, was upset about this. very much so. upon returning, rodeo vincent, a man who has since died and who had turned in a prior neighbor for animal cruelty, and who had been earlier that year spreading rumors about me in a negative way with regard to my attempt to organize a fun two day twenty mile heat race, to actually raise money and food (entry idea was everyone bring a bag of dog food to be donated to shelter) for the local animal shelter. had gone again out of his way to try to slander and drive me out of the area, saying i had no permit for said race(terry streeper has since organized similar races in same area as my idea with no problems, any race in alaska doesnt need permits if its a fun no purse race etc)same with some other local mushers, who wouldnt even meet me when i, in a neighborly way first came down from alaska and tried to make contact with them. some of it had to do with my interest back than of starting a local tourist business in the area etc, and i think they were insecure about my age, quality of my dogs, ambition, accomplishments (veteran of many races tho i was in my early twenties still) around these things, and specialization around these things, compared to their sort of lackluster and more modest accomplishments. the problem i ran into when i got back up a day and half later was that i was greeted by a cop, and rodeo, and went to feed the dogs and take care of them and was prevented to do this for an additional two days , where the dogs sat in bad conditions , while the local lackluster and bad peforming law enforcement took their time getting a warrant and a “rescue” organized. rob greger and his wife cara, as well as jason matthews, all got a chance to lie in easily provable ways. jason these days runs a tour business sled dog ride outfit, sort of silly and pathetic, in the exact area around big sky where i was trying to get one going. he told the law enforcement that i tried to give him a dog, where as i had proof that i had, when he inquired to me about dogs not me contacting him, told him i had a dog for 2500 for sale.–> i too share in the pain from that situation, the distance between practices in the states and alaska was a small part of it, larger just the issue i think of an outsider entering an area and starting or trying to start business and running into a non receptive group that were prior already working in said industry in said area and not welcoming competition etc….. but if its any consollation, winter storms in idaho and that area of montana routinely close that road, just last year i was down there in victor ID outside Jackson Wy and had photos of dry ground and than 5 foot drifts the next day, and the winds etc, can dramatically change a situation. And also it should be noted that most of the dogs did , in fact, actually have dog houses, and that there was a 20 hole dog box trailer on the property where the other dogs were rotated in to etc, a standard practice my some mushers. I had just moved there. And was in process of getting organized etc. Constructively looking back on it, i think you would have to look real hard at the fact rodeo et all were spreading rumors that my race was a scam, whereas i clearly had no , and never had any, intention of scamming anyone for anything, just showcasing the sport in a positive light and creating a social space for mushers in the sport to come together prior to the stage race in wyoming. i will never forget the damper etc, that that entire thing put on my enthusiasm for the sport and mushing, and how strange i still to this day find it that someone would see the need to go out of there way to try to spread rumors about a scam race when someone else is just trying to get something fun going as a training socilzation race. sort of like the year i was in teh quest, where john schandelmier himself, who has run the quest without a handler, and who wrote about it in mushing magazine, and i , than, a younger musher, wihtout a handler. get withrdrawn for this, tho its ok for a schandelmier to do it, but not me. a clear inconsistency. or its ok for jeff king, when i visited him in his denali park home one year, to have several or twenty dogs without houses, there at that location, young dogs just getting staked out for the first time probably, but me in montana a few, and you have crisis. just seems strange, idk, i think the sport is just politics, like many have said, and economics. its sad. i worked for martin buser for two winters, dont have a pay stub. its a problem for the sport. puppies died at that kennel, and i said point blank to him it was neglect, but he , like me later in my mushing career, was just really and to be fair, in a moment where he and i were gone for a day or two training up near the denali highway, and a big storm came in, and things happen. there was only one handler there, and older gentelmen , animals, weather. things are not always perfect. i try to approach things , in hind sight. wiht a degree of understanding and empathy on all fronts , for all people, and try to move forward in a constructive sense. not get caught up trying to scape goat individuals, but to try to be more consistent and thoughtful with creating environments that put people and groups of people, communities if you will, like the dog mushing community for example as what we are dealing with, in a space wehre they have more incentive and encouragement toward the right behaviors and less toward the wrong. mike mccowan drunk pulling me out of the yukon quest in dawson was a low for my career for sure, talk about drug testing. drug testing of officials might need to be a new requirement. lol but yeah the gregers etc in montana were all out to drive out the competition from the area, slander the heck out of him, and steal from him. thats what they did. are they good for that? could they have handled that differently? great questions i think.

      • Well, Craig, it’s your party so I will play by your rules. Maybe JT has changed (my fingers are crossed there) but I think that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. With that in mind, many of the mushers who have been in the sport for decades (but not all) have been guilty of less than desirable dog care, doping, and massive amounts of culling…they do not/will not change their behavior unless there is negative, corrective, extinguishing feedback regarding these behaviors. I consider this an opportune time to air the dirty laundry and make this sport cleaner in the end.

      • Adelaide: i have no “rules.” but i do try to keep an open mind, and i have seen people change both for the better and, admittedly, for the worse. as regards the Iditarod, i do think there is a pace issue that cannot be ignored much longer.
        every endurance sport out there – cycling, running, Nordic skiing, horse racing, you name it – has reached a point in modern times where the competition became so stiff that people were pushed to extreme measures to try to win. in most cases, the result was doping. but the East Germans were both doping and people farming.
        there were East German coaches who saw athletes as every bit as expendable as some people see dogs.
        Sherm “Chavoor coached Mark Spitz to his seven gold medals during the 1972 Munich Olympics and female swimmers at the Arden Hills Swim Club in Sacramento, Calif. Chavoor recalled a visit some years ago of an East German coach who watched the Arden Hills club swimmers train one day, only to ask Chavoor when he administered drugs. The man, whose name Chavoor did not recall, ‘pointed to his arm, like he had a needle in his other hand,’ said Chavoor, who said he told the coach that none of his swimmers used drugs, that drugs might be dangerous.
        “He recalled the coach acting surprised and saying, ‘But bodies are expendable.'”
        bodies are expendable. if you really, really want to win the Iditarod, it’s not a hard thing to rationalize in training. humans are good at rationalizing.

      • additionally: not sure who “adeliaide” is? since i am posting on here with my name, i wonder if its anyone i know? i dont know anyone named adelaide.
        i would definitly challenge the peta community etc tho you know to step there game up and be more solution oriented, and constructive. there argument that mushing is bad is like some one saying mexicans are bad, lets build a wall to make it less likely there are illegal aliens in the country working and creating problems by being here in the united states and etc.

        well mexicans arent bad its the poverty situations and communities that immigrants are a lot of times a part of that create problems. poverty situations with white people, african american etc : its the poverty not the race of the person. and the programming and patterning behavoirs and oppurtinties that are a part of the poverty situations that pattern in behaviors like violence, theft, drugs, etc

        so adeliaide etc say culling is bad, well look at the programming that a musher like mitch got, or a jeff king on the come up etc: he got runyan as main commentator on the iditarod website for years, author of a book a past champion. there is no programming to mitch from iditarod race or organization that raising lots of dogs and culling some is not acceptable. and there is no rule towards this either. so to change the programming, you would want to do more than encourage mushers like him to mimic better kennel practices around these issues. or to try to expose them publicly for their wasteful or immoral activities. but to actually change some rules around this, that demand kennel transparency, and that reward the right behaviors and not just scapegoat the bad ones.

        if you as a community or goverment etc want a company or group of companies (like int this instance the iditarod kennels as a group of businesses) to have more coporate social responsibility or adopt better social or environment practices, you dont try to get them to go out of business: you work with them to establish better guidelines. and when these guidelines are established, they are forced to adopt better practices, for employees, animals etc,. constructive evolution.

      • John: you realize you’re suggesting cultural change, right? that is the hardest change to facilitate. many big business failures come because the business climate changes but company cultures cannot adapt. U.S. automakers almost bit the dust because of this.
        as for PETA, it doesn’t care what happens to dogs in far off Alaska. it’s a small, lower-48 interest group which mainly cares about suckering the soft-hearted out of their money. PETA, i’m confident, wants to see the Iditarod survive and, hopefully, have a few dogs die every year to help its fund-raising. i’d expect that if Iditarod looked to be in serious trouble PETA would quietly disappear.
        or maybe claim victory and go away before the Iditarod failed so it could tout its success to raise money with the idea that once Iditarod got back on its feet, PETA could launch another fund-raising offensive.

      • in response to craig,

        thanks for cultivating the dialogue here for sure. and you make great points about peta, and i guess i was refering also to the humane mushing group ashley started etc as well as peta with my post. but unfortunately i think there is enough validity for the criticism against the mushing community in many instances, and there is quite a lot of internal inconsistencies with the mushing community that create space for problems for young people and people getting started. if your training dogs and letting one dog do a thing and not another, than you are setting yourself up for problems etc….

        easier said than done but–> why the seaveys got to hire all these young girls like keith and handler x from the states? why all the handlers (male and female) mostly come from outside of alaska? human trafficking. that is why. because no alaskan kid in there right mind would go to a kennel and get cut off from their peer group and endure slavery type work living conditions for some one elses selfish dream. for room and board, or some instances a “Stipend”

        cc. i was trying to be hard on myself and argue the other side of this, and be like–> you konw what but who is going to buy those top dollar dogs? not local alaskans , but people from the states or europe. so those are the same demographics that are interested in the sport and work as handlers.

        regardless: my conclusion is they should be treated as employees under local laws, and have protection etc, and if thats considered cultural change well, all the other businesses in alaska have to operate that way, in a legal sense, so why not the dog mushing kennels?

        were keith and handler x employees ? or were they working for room board stipend in vague terms? did they have time off from work? were they being unfairly worked or taken advantage of to the point where they were overwhelmed with workload? did this cause problems? those are all preventable issues.

        why are not more iditarod mushers actually out training and caring for their dogs before the race in march? why is it so often handlers doing the brunt of the work? i think more transparency around these issues would show the fans that these mushers are not as lovable as they might think etc.

        i still think to stay on track you got to look hard at the race organization and corruption issues, and be like, that non profit. that hosts that race. has to be more responsible here, in terms of putting out some guidelines like my suggested rule changes. to better shape the future for the sport. and that community.

        and i think they should be embracing criticism, and making constructive changes. both kennels, like the seaveys that are under the spotlight, but also the actual race itself.

      • I don’t know whether Joe Runyan shocked his dogs with cattle prods or not. But even if he did, that was a long time ago – long before I started to run dogs in 1999. Our understanding of animals has changed – and so has the way mushers approach competitive dog sledding. Perhaps it is you, Lisbeth, who needs to catch up to what is taking place in present time.

    • Culling is no longer accepted within the mushing community. Mushers who run in the Iditarod today– particularly the top teams– do not cull their animals because they don’t make the cut. They operate a year round business of conducting dog sled tours and they sell their pups to other mushers and clients. They sell or give their dogs who can’t compete to good homes.

      PETA conflates information that produces untrue statements. See for yourself. Look at the claims they make against the Iditarod — and then examine how the dogs are actually cared for – and you will see the discrepancies between what they claim, and what actually happens. The facts stand on their own.

      Dallas and Mitch Seavey are so much in the spot light just from being 4 and 3 time iditarod champions, do you think for one minute they would put their status in jeopardy by committing such heinous acts as PETA and their supporters are claiming?

      The answer is no. Law enforcement conducted an unannounced inspection of the Seavey’s kennel that was the subject of a complaint filed by PETA — apparently due to information provided by a former handler working there – and there was no violation found. You must understand that when Law enforcement comes to do a kennel inspection – and they are always unannounced — the Officer is trained to look for clues other than the obvious. For example, they look for the demeanor of the dogs – whether they are well adjusted. Dogs pick up on abuse. If a person is abusing their animals, it does impact on the emotional health of the other dogs — any musher knows that dogs pick up on energy. And they react to that. And it’s not just dogs. My husband worked at a slaughter house long before we married — and he told me that the cows urinated out of fear before they were killed. The cows knew what was happening without even seeing the cows ahead of them being slaughtered. So if you think for one minute an animal control officer in Alaska would not pick up on subtle clues if animal abuse were taking place at a musher’s kennel, think again.

      As for the author of this article – I am not going to criticize him.

      • PS, and you ought to know this — an “unannounced” visit in the Valley requires 24 hours notice, just as it does in the Anchorage Muni. Not exactly unannounced, if you ask me

      • the inspection was not unannounced. animal control contacted the Seaveys to make arrangements to visit. and abuse is a hard thing to define let along conclusively spot unless animals are clearly starving or obviously injured.

  4. I have personally been dealing with some of the unwanted dogs of our sport for 30 years. Contrary to what my friend Mitch might believe, they can win races…….. I would like to say that this controversy is not a feud: I am not out to get Dallas. He has the unfortunate position of having landed in the spotlight, thus is in the focus of the dog culling issue. It is a sport-wide issue. I believe it is mostly confined to a minority of kennels.
    I would like to reiterate that this is not a PETA issue, it is an internal one. PETA is a self-serving organization being run by a bunch of damn zealots. ( my opinion). They cause harm and chaos where ever they intrude and all animals, rats and cats and elephants, would be better off if they didn’t exist.

    • John, I’m glad you used the words “I believe” when writing about dog culling. You only KNOW that you and Zoya don’t kill dogs. But, you don’t truly KNOW what other mushers do.

      • Lise that; You are wrong. Period. I said I believe performance culling is confined to a minority. I do truly know what some other mushers do. They have told me that personally. I have no reason to believe that a musher would lie to me when he tells me he culls dogs because they won’t fit into his team. We have received dogs from competitive kennels that came with the tag; “too good to shoot”. There are dog owners that believe that wholesale culling is okay and not afraid to voice their thoughts and beliefs. Quit hiding your head in the sand and be proactive with the changes we need in this sport!

    • I’m sure Mitch knows that after Dallas beat him with a bunch of unwanted dogs. But if Mitch can go through 5 times the pups and dogs as the next musher and still look himself in the mirror and call himself a good breeder, musher, or human being than I guess he is doing just fine, and I hope he is happy he helped run mushers like my husband right out of the sport.

  5. Seavey’s are trash, they’ve been knowingly breeding blind dogs for some time. My husband got a bred female and half were blind by 3 years old. They said that is normal in the line and to just put the blind ones down.

  6. Plenty of (top ten and prior top ten) I’rod and YQ mushers did and still do cull dogs, have accidental breedings, run injured dogs and have less than satisfactory animal husbandry techniques. Plenty more middle of the packers do as well. The actual practice of culling is getting to be less frequent and certainly less acceptable (and even more cleverly concealed) but it still goes on. To say that it absolutely does not happen is incorrect. It does happen, and it happens at kennels you’d never ever suspect of such things because they have great PR. Mushing has come a long way, and there’s a long way yet to go.

  7. This is an argument between two sides who’ve already made up their minds. Ford vs Chevy will be resolved before this one will.

  8. I have come to the conclusion that it is best to do the Iditarod by snow machine, skis or bicycle. It’s simpler and you never have to submit a urine sample.

    • way simpler, Mr. Griffith. and on the Idit-A-Highway of these times, the young and fit can now do it on a bike as fast as the dog teams used to godo it, barring any big storms, of course. Alaska still sometimes like to mess with people.

  9. If I had worked as a handler for the Seavey’s and I witnessed Any kind of culling or Any other questionable actions you can be damned sure I would gather what evidence I can and Expose them. to me, dogs Are my family, if you mistreat them then you do it to me! What I see is Dallas & Jen “Trying” to point the blame for this dog doping on ANYONE, Anywhere other than themselves where the blame Truly belongs! If this happened during the Yukon Quest, then the blame would fall Only on the musher with the doped dogs is held accountable and they would be punished accordingly. If he Knew in April that this happened then Why the silence for 6 months? He had all that time to try to gather evidence to prove his innocence but nothing? It was not important as he “Believed” that the case was closed and he was free & clear and he lost Nothing! There was No saboteur, ever has been. Just an Overly competitive young man who Needed to win and cheated to get that done and did so Fully Believing the ITC would cover for him.

  10. This “obscure” musher gets to weigh in….. the gal that left Seavey’s is no more a PETA plant than Zoya or I. We are dog people who want to see it done right.
    I have been in direct contact with the girl who left the Seavey kennel last month. She is not alone. Stay tuned.

    • John, I take your word for it that the woman wasn’t a PETA plant. However, the photos with captions that PETA published on its blog are questionable, to say the least.
      Supposedly, the handler took the photos. We don’t know if she wrote the captions.

      In one photo we see a dog’s chest and are told in the caption that the dog has an oozing wound. This kind of wound is sticky. But, there’s no debris or dirt on the dog’s chest. Another photo showed seven puppies, two with sponges stuck into their mouths, lying stone-still on a table. The caption said that these pups died later. The dogs appeared to be already dead, layed out on the table. The photo of the supposed dead dog pit could have been any snowy spot in the woods.

      • I don’t believe the captions are correct for the reasons I previously detailed.

      • Lisbeth my young friend nor I are PETA freaking plants. The horrors she witnessed were conveyed to me at midnight hours through exhausted tears. I gave Abbie her first sled dog. We have known each other for 11 years. We are mushers. i counseled her not to work for Dallas Seavey. I knew better. But its a blessing for the dogs that she didnt listen to me. There was abuse, neglect, refusal to give medical attention, and very poor kennel set up where you cant even walk a dog back to its circle without another dog biting it. Bites are not treated. dogs have infected feet. not treated. dogs have collar rashes. dot treated. males and females housed so close they are not prevented from breeding. In a professional kennel males and females are housed in separate yards. Puppies are allowed to die when its supper easy to save them. Yearlings often have no name which makes it rough to identify them when needed. Lousy management, animal cruelty, neglect and poor hiring practices. I cant even repeat the worst of it. I guess I need to contact a major magazine.

  11. 1. A musher who won multiple Iditarods said he/she bred 300 dogs to get a handful of good racers. That’s standard practice. Mushers kill the majority of dogs they don’t want.

    2. If Dallas truly wanted to know how long it took his dogs to recover from training he’d have blood taken from them after a typical training session. Dallas claims he wanted their blood drawn six hours after he arrived in Nome so he would know how quickly the dogs recovered from training. His rationale smells to high heaven. It’s illogical. It makes no sense. In all likelihood the blood tests were a ruse used by Dallas to have urine tests on the dogs delayed.

    • I need to correct your statement about mushers killing the dogs they don’t want. It’s simply not true. There are hundreds of mushers in this State who take very good care of their dogs from birth to death. These mushers also will find homes for dogs who, for whatever reason (age, injury, speed etc) need them. We are a kennel of 21, with ages ranging from 3 to 15. I took our oldest gal to the vet yesterday to be euthanized – 17 years old. Five of our 21 live in the house because they are old and retired. Our kennel and the way we treat our dogs is not very unusual.
      Yes, there are large commercial kennels who treat their dogs as nothing more than machines. Dogs who don’t make the cut are killed. Several litters of puppies born every spring. They are a blight on the sport – a blight nobody seems to want to talk about. Good for Zoya and John for speaking up.
      To paint us all as dog killers is incorrect.

      • Yes they do, all the freaking tiome. Go visit the dog pit at M. Seaveys. yes there are good mushers, but actually all the big racers do this, and yes there are some exceptions.

      • No, most of us are not dog killers. The majority of us do not think of sled dogs in terms of livestock, but some folks still do – Swingley used to be a big one but he’s out of the sport now. Mitch is still around and he still has that old school mentality. If you don’t believe it, just read his book.

      • The point of all this is that dogs are suffering greatly and its going to stop

  12. I can confirm that she had no interactions with PETA prior to coming to me for help. I contacted PETA because they could provide legal protection through anonymity and filing the cruelty reports on her behalf. Maybe Dallas needs to stop thinking everyone is out to get him and just clean up his act, on and off the trail.

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