Olivia and Hugh Neff with one of their canine family/Craig Medred photo

An informal panel that met for eight hours over the course of two-days in private in Fairbanks has upheld the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race decision banning musher Hugh Neff from next year’s dog race because of a dog death this year.

The names of the three judges are being kept secret, but they are said to have voted unanimously. A veterinarian working for Neff has charged the secrecy is intended to cover up the race’s botched veterinary work.

Neff and his wife, Olivia, believe he has become the sacrificial goat in a Quest effort to demonstrate a crackdown on dog care in the face of ever-increasing pressure from animal right’s groups who want reform in Alaska’s long-distance, sled-dog events. 

Hugh said Tuesday that he wants a formal hearing but is unsure of how to obtain one. The Quest put out a press release declaring the informal hearing a “final decision,” and saying “the third-party review board consisted of one musher, one veterinarian, and one community member. The members were decided based on a request from Neff to include mushers and veterinarians. The names of the review board will remain confidential, as per their request.”

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race later issued a press release suggesting Neff avoid entering the state’s premier sled-dog competition next year.  The statement noted that a “Qualifying Review Board” checks the credentials of all entrants and “reserves the right to reject any entrant that does not conform with or demonstrate humane animal care practices and does not exemplify the spirit and principles of the Iditarod Trail Committee as set forth in the 2019 rules, policies,  bylaws and mission statement. The decision to reject any entrant by the QRB will be final and binding.”

Neff said he is unsure what he will or can do next.

“I just want to be an Alaska dog musher,” he said in a telephone interview. “My wife wants to participate in some events, and we still love participating in the sport, and my wife wants to run some races.”

“(But) you have to make ends meet. I don’t know at the moment how I’m going to do that. I guess we’ll be living on rice and beans. I’m going to have to downsize the kennel.

“We love our dogs. We spend more time with our dogs than anyone. It’s what we live for.”

Events since the announcement of the censure in April have been an eye-opener, he added.

“Most people in the mushing world can say you’re their friend,” Neff said, “but they don’t have your back.”

Stacked panel?

Neff said he agreed to have his case reviewed by a panel of  five people, not three. Two mushers he asked to sit in – one of them four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion and former Quest victor Lance Mackey – didn’t show. The lone musher on what ended up being a three-person panel turned out to be four-time Iditarod champ Martin Buser from Big Lake, Olivia said.

The Neffs invited to attend the hearing, but the Quest blocked news coverage. The reason for all the secrecy has not been explained.

“Why is it so secretive?” Olivia asked “Why is everything done behind closed doors?

Eric Jayne, the veterinarian working with the Neffs, thinks he has an answer.

“Boppy could have been treated and probably would be alive now,” Jayne emailed. “It’s a veterinary screw up. The tribunal was clearly biased and just done for show.

“…They told (Hugh) he didn’t provide enough evidence to prove he was innocent. That’s the opposite of our justice system.”

Quest chief veterinarian Nina Hansen has refused to talk about the case. After I went to her office at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, identified myself as a journalist, asked some questions to which she generally answered no comment, and left, she called the university police department to claim she was being “stalked,” and tried to get officers to throw me off a public campus.

Jayne may actually have hurt the Neffs case in that along with once running sled dog operations in Denali National Park and Preserve he worked for a time in Hawaii for an animal right’s group. The hint of an association with any such organization immediately raises the hackles of Alaska sled-dog racing organizations.blurb1


Neff was censured by the Quest amidst accusations his actions contributed to the death of Boppy in a cabin at Clinton Creek, site of an abandoned asbestos mine in the remote Yukon Territory, Canada, about 55 miles north of Dawson City along the 1,000-mile Quest trail from Fairbanks to Whitehorse.

The Quest claimed the dog’s death was the result of variety of pre-existing conditions – a “minor whipworm infestation,” inflammatory bowel disease, and low body weight that led to a hypoglycemia-induced seizure, vomiting and eventually aspiration pneumonia from inhaling stomach fluids.

Jayne, an experienced sled dog veterinarian, challenged all of those claims.

“Boppy did not die from these pre-existing conditions,” he wrote in a PowerPoint prepared for the hearing. “Boppy died from 8 hours of intermittent seizures and/or the aspiration/ choking that can occur during a seizure.

“Choking is not aspiration pneumonia.”

To back up his statements, Jayne provided both a “fecal profile” and a “pathologist report” on Boppy from IDEXX Laboratories, a nationally recognized testing authority. 

The fecal test found no sign of the Quest-reported whipworm infestation. The pathology report (attached below this story) did find Boppy appeared to be suffering from “mild to moderate inflammatory bowel disease,” that he had lung damage apparently from breathing the smoky air from the forest fires raging around his Tok, Alaska, home last summer, and that he was lean but by no means malnourished as the Quest has suggested.

“The changes in the skeletal muscle are quite mild,” the report says. Dogs that are badly malnourished begin to catabolize muscle for energy. 

The Quest, according to checkpoint notes from veterinarians, gave Boopy a “body condition score” of 2.5 of 9 at the Eagle checkpoint before Hugh left for Clinton Creek. The race has no standards that stipulate what BCS requires a dog  be dropped in a checkpoint or held back until it puts on weight, though Hansen has since said the dog should have been held at Eagle.

Nestle’ Purina lists a score of 4 or 5 as “ideal weight;” 3 is the first of the three, too-thin categories.

The 1-to-9 scale for BCS scores does not use fractions; they are used in an older 1-to-5 scale. Photos of Boppy’s skinned body show healthy muscle but with almost no external fat. Jayne suggested that is what one would expect to see in a trained athlete.

‘What fat reserves would a human triathelete have?” he asked. “There is no evidence that this caused or contributed to Boppy’s death. A low body condition score does not equal seizures. Hypoglycemia induced seizures occur during an energy demand and sudden blood sugar drop, they do not occur during rest and after a meal.”

Hypoglycemic seizures are themselves rare. The pathology report could find no cause for Boppy’s seizure. A former Neff handler, however, told that Neff had a line of dogs that were prone to seizures, and that Boppy came out of that line.

Neff could be fairly criticized for breeding – and reportedly sometimes selling to other mushers – such dogs. But it is harder to make the case for his being severely punished if Boppy died of a genetics-linked seizure at Clinton Creek.

One former handler no fan of the Neffs said that if the charge the Quest has leveled against Hugh – that he caused Boppy’s death – has substance, he should have been charged with animal abuse in Canada, where Boppy’s death took place and where animal cruelty laws are less lenient than in Alaska.

Yukon Territorial law makes it illegal to subject an animal to “undue or unnecessary hardship, privation or neglect.”

Charges could have precipitated a public hearing in a court of law.

A dog’s death

Clinton Creek is what the Quest calls a designated “hospitality stop” for mushers on the long, cold Quest trail. Sandra Vaisvil, an Alaska chiropractor who owns a cabin there and staffs the hospitality checkpoint, sent the Quest a lengthy email detailing what happened on the day of Boppy’s death.

“Once Boppy was discovered to be having trouble,” she wrote, “he was immediately brought into our house, warmed, straw pulled out (of his throat), attended to and even given mouth-to-mouth by Mr. Neff. I have to say that is a dedicated dog musher. It was a very difficult vigil over five to six hours if I recall correctly.”

At the start, she added, Hugh “tried to contact vets in Dawson for several hours…but was unable to get through, and then his attention was taken fully by Boppy’s crisis.”

The review panel was not given Vaisvil’s email or allowed to listen to her testimony, Olivia said. Hugh said he wanted a vet’s advice on how to treat Boppy or better yet for a veterinarian to come out on snowmachine from Dawson to help, but could get no cooperation from race officials.

Aspiration pneumonia is treatable as is choking.

Vaisvil confessed to mixed feelings about Hugh and past concerns about his dog care, but not in this case.

“We have seen Mr. Neff run the Quest for 12 or 13 years,” she wrote, “and initially I did not favor him, having heard that he didn’t take extra care of his dogs. (But) I have not seen any evidence of such in the time we have observed him, albeit earlier from a more biased viewpoint, and in the past few years, just the opposite.”

A former, two-time Quest champion, Hugh has a checkered reputation. He has been a well-known Iditarod rabbit for years, regularly racing to the front of The Last Great Race to attract attention only to have his dogs tire and drop the team farther back in the standings than if he had run a more sensibly paced race.

His low-budget kennel also means corners get cut. Former handlers said the kennel is short on medical supplies (or has none) and lacks for dog booties, so dogs almost always run without them. They also accused Hugh of displaying a certain nonchalance toward canine athletic injuries, as if they didn’t really warrant attention. That is a common attitude among some Alaska mushers.

Almost everyone seems to agree the Neffs do not set the gold-standard for kennel management. Past handlers, of which there are many, complained of a kennel so big Hugh couldn’t remember all the dogs’ names, poorly socialized dogs that sometimes got into fights that led to injuries, marginal medical treatment and more. But those problems aren’t uncommon in other kennels.

The prize lead-dog of Brent Sass, a Quest winner like Neff, was attacked and killed by a poorly socialized team during a stop on a training run, a horrible turn of events Sass later tried to conceal by suggesting the dog had died from genetic problems. An animal abuse complaint was filed against four-time Iditarod champ Dallas Seavey by a handler upset about neglected puppies dying, and Seavey’s wife later admitted to other abuse by handlers of the Seavey dogs.

“Pretty much all mushers have had issues,” Hugh said. “Everyone has had troubles on the trail. It’s not just me. (But) they never were put through the ringer like I was.”

The Cat in the Hat

“Maybe they’re just jealous,” said Iditarod veteran Brian O’Donoghue, the author of an Iditarod book and a professor of Journalism at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. O’Donoghue admitted to being troubled by how the Neff affair has been handled.

He is someone with knowledge of how hard it can be to get a fair hearing even in a public forum. O’Donoghue led the reporting on the coverage of the Fairbanks Four, a group of young Alaska Native men publicly convicted of a crime they did not commit and sent to prison for almost two decades.

O’Donoghue described the treatment given Hugh in this case as “over-the-top and punitive” in comparison to the way any other mushers have been treated.

“Requiring a two-time champ to run a qualifying race before he can compete again?” O’Dongohue asked. “Why?

“This is taking away a guy’s livelihood. This is taking away a guy’s life.”

O’Donoghue suggested maybe the Quest was overreacting or, yes,  “jealous.”

Neff has gained a certain notoriety by donning the attire of Dr. Seuss’s “Cat in the Hat” for some races and appearances at schools around the nation to talk to kids about the Quest and the Iditarod.  He visits 40 to 50 schools per year.

“Kids are my biggest fan base,” he told a Morris Herald-News reporter in Coal City, Ill. in 2014.  A story about his visit appeared beneath a photo of Hugh leaving the Quest starting line wearing the Cat-in-the-Hat headgear.

“They call me the ‘Cat in the Hat.’ I carry books in my sled to promote reading and literacy, and I use racing to tell kids about following their dreams,” Hugh said.

Mushers who take their sport seriously don’t cater to Neff’s funning around. There are parallels in his case to “Poodle Man” John Suter from Chugiak, a suburb of Anchorage. Suter was basically run out of the race in the 1990s after he gained too much attention for racing his Fifi dogs.

The poodles pulled Suter onto the Johnny Carson Show, then the dominate force in late-night TV, and boosted him into the pages of Sports Illustrated, where some other mushers would have killed to be.

It all ended when a poodle bedded down on the Bering Sea and some of its hair froze to the ice while a TV crew was filming. Suter pulled the dog free from the ice; it left behind some remnants of hair; and though there was no indication the dog suffered any harm other Iditarod mushers made a stink about how such incidents might damage the race’s image.

As a result, the Iditarod passed a rule limiting the race to “northern breed” dogs with an undercoat of protective fur. After Suter and his non-northern-breed poodles had left the scene, the rule was amended to allow “only dogs suitable for Arctic travel….Suitability will be determined by race officials.”

Many of the dogs running the Iditarod today are in large part Southern Breed dogs, primarily hounds. Many of them are “suitable for Arctic travel” only when outfitted with dog jackets and booties. Since Suter’s departure, there is no record of the race rejecting a dog as not suitable for Arctic travel.

There are, however, many reports of mushers being ordered to put coats on their dogs before crossing the finish line because hounds are naturally lean. And by the end of the average Iditarod or Quest race, some number of them score a 3 or worse on the BCS, and quite of few a 2 or maybe a 2.5 if there was a 2.5. 

Boppy’s pathology report:

IDEXX VetConnect

1878R HWY 64 SPUR
WYNNE, Arkansas 72396
Account #       90478

Owner:          NEFF
Patient:        BOPPY
Species:        CANINE
Breed:          Not Available
Age:            Not Available
Gender:         MALE
Requisition #:  82
Accession #:    4601354744
Order recv’d:   6/2/2018
Ordered by:     JAYNE

Seizures for 6+ hours resulting in death during a distance sled dog race.

Sections of brain are examined. No histologic lesions are identified.

Sections of stomach are examined. There is a focal ulcer lined with small numbers of degenerate neutrophils and cellular debris. Small aggregates of degenerate neutrophils are located in the deep lamina propria small amounts of mature fibrous connective tissue is identified.

Section of lung is examined. Small amounts of anthracosis is identified surrounding small airways and occasionally within alveoli. Mild to moderate congestion of interstitial capillaries is identified. The larger airways contain small to moderate amounts of eosinophilic globular material and plant material with mixed bacteria consistent with aspiration of gastric contents. There is a small focal area of neutrophilic inflammation within the alveoli admixed with mixed bacteria as well as rare aspirated material.

Sections of small intestine are examined. Expanding the lamina propria are small to moderate aggregates of lymphocytes and plasma cells that mildly elevates the deep crypts. Mild edema and minimal connective tissue is identified.

Section of pancreas is examined. No histologic lesions are identified.

Sections of heart are examined. No histologic lesions are identified.

Section of lymph node is examined. The medullary sinuses are expanded with increased number of macrophages and plasma cells with occasional small lymphocytes.

Sections of spleen are examined. No histologic lesions are identified.

Section of liver is examined. No histologic lesions are identified.

Sections of skeletal muscle are examined. Expanding the intermysial space are occasional small multifocal aggregates of macrophages and lymphocytes. There is artifactual separation of myofibers most likely from postmortem change.

Sections of adrenal gland are examined. No histologic lesions are identified.

Sections of kidney are examined. There is diffuse and minimal to mild hypercellularity and increased basement membrane thickening within the glomeruli. Rare aggregates of protein are identified within the distal tubules.

Brain: Normal

STOMACH: Ulceration, focal, subacute to chronic with mild neutrophilic inflammation

Lung: Anthracosis, mild to moderate, diffuse with aspirated gastric contents and mild neutrophilic inflammation

Small intestine: Enteritis, lymphoplasmacytic, mild to moderate, diffuse, chronic

Pancreas: Normal

HEART: Normal

Lymph node: Medullary histiocytosis and plasmacytosis, mild to moderate

Spleen: Normal

Liver: Normal

Skeletal muscle: Myositis, lymphohistiocytic, minimal to mild, multifocal, chronic

Adrenal gland: Normal

Kidney: Glomerulopathy, membranoproliferative, minimal to mild, diffuse, chronic with minimal proteinuria

No lesions were identified in the brain sections to explain the clinical seizures identified. There is evidence of anthracosis in the lungs consistent with previous exposure to smoke. The aspirated material within the airways are likely an agonal process.
The chronic infiltrates in the small intestine are suggestive of a mild to moderate inflammatory bowel disease like lesion. The changes in the lymph node are likely a reactive change from increased antigenic stimulation to the lymph node from regional or systemic inflammation. The changes in the skeletal muscle are quite mild with no evidence of myonecrosis. These changes are quite chronic and not considered clinically significant. The glomerular changes in the kidney are also quite mild and likely not associated with significant renal insufficiency.

Steve Rushton, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Pathologists
Direct: 207-556-9119
1-888-433-9987, option 0, x69119
Thank you for submitting your pathology sample to our service. If you have any questions regarding this case, do not hesitate to contact us directly at the number(s) listed above.

40 replies »

  1. Steve like I said . I apologize for making it feel personal to you . I made a mistake.There were other things that didn’t involve just mushers I was referring to . Fire crews ect . I wasn’t there . It was wrong of me to bring any of it up ,also know that I acknowledge I was wrong to bring any of it up and I was wrong to be so careless as to make you feel I was making it personal. Wasn’t my original intent . You have my full apologies. Plus some . It didnt do anyone good to offend you . You have my extreme never ending apologies for saying things that offended you . Also saying Things that should have been kept private . I won’t do it to you or anyone again. Sorry.

    • Ramey,
      you have disappointed me very much…
      I have tried to “reach out” to you and communicate.
      Was I ever offensive in our personal communications?
      Did I ever send you anything other than good pictures (like the husky in the ice chest)?
      For all other situations, you give the other person (like Neff) the benefit of doubt, but for me the “jury” is in from your asshole Iditarod gang…
      I do not care one way or another how you feel about me!!!!!
      Most of my friends live outside of Alaska.
      I have traveled for many years between ages 18 and 30, before I homesteaded in AK.
      I have friends and family from California to Connecticut and many states in between.
      They all agree with me that your dog racing obsession should end….I stay in touch with them online, through text messages and phone calls, letters and packages.
      The picture I sent you of the Husky in the ice machine came from a life long friend who is a firefighter for NYC….he has 14,000 “colleagues” who support him…
      Many have seen the movie “Sleddogs” as have my friends at Black Diamond Equipment and AMGA mountain guides from France to New England.
      If I could wave my hands and never have moved to AK….I would, but life is not that easy.
      With Salmon returns as low as they are and fishing “bunk”, most of the land I developed is not worth what I have put into it….so I must be patient.
      I think it is best for you and I to realize we cannot be friends.
      This latest exchange of dialogue proves it.
      I will not bring up the Sockeye Fire and any other gripes that you may have on my character.
      I really honestly do not value your opinion.
      I do not care that your Dad “ate pudding” to increase his weight of if you can get a dog team to Nome, over and over and over and over and over again.
      I am interested in new paths, solutions and economic gains for my community.
      The Iditarod culture takes and takes and does not give anything back to residents of Willow or along the trail.
      I am sure your “formal complaint” with the ITC was just bullshit to string me along…
      You do not intend to speak any truth.
      If you did, you might retell the story you told me of how “your friend” was mistreated by Gary Paulson while she was a handler…
      You told me that she was really “traumatized” from what she saw at that lot…
      Well, that is where the dog Topaz I adopted came from and that is also the lot the ZAZ’s new husband came from…I suspect he is also the “fire guy” that you speak of as having a problem with me…..he was also he main “source” for B.S. articles she wrote about people in Willow.
      Coming from the “outside” and seeing this place for what it is really makes a difference.
      We lost our chance to be friends, but we can still be “civil” to one another, even though many of your friends cannot take the “high road” no matter how hard they try.
      Have a good day and look ahead, not behind as much….that is my advice.

      • Bill,
        Funny how I mostly responded to Ramey’s personal attack, yet you are telling me to stop?
        Maybe you should put on your belt buckle and get up to the Frat House….I think there is an “Elephant Dance” you may be missing…

      • Steve, I just see no point in continuing your pissing match with Rayme in public. I’ve not told you to stop, just keep it private.

      • This got really personal towards Rayme with a lot of material being tossed out that most of us (me at least) don’t fully understand for lack of context and detail, but one thing that’s coming through loud and clear, Steve, is your disdain for his life accomplishments and a general trashing of his character.

        Personally, Rayme and his Dad are heroes of mine, people who I consider true adventurers, pioneers and frontiersman, and plenty of people feel the same way. They are both “true Alaskans” in the purest sense of the phrase. I agree with Bill; you should take some of this intensely personal and highly insulting behavior to private messaging or something.

      • Jason,
        I am sorry for tying up the air space with my responses…
        If you go back into the “Thread” and look and the initial responses…
        you will see I was speaking on Ramey’s “Bias” attack on the panel.
        as for what happened….it became apparent from Ramey’s comments that he was “back stabbing” myself in discussions with my Iditarod neighbor and also “back stabbing” the same dude in text messages he sent to me….that did upset me….sorry.
        As for you, Jason, and Bill coming together ….well, as 3 Iditarod Mushers….that does not surprise me at all…the frat house is tight.
        You all did a good job at “Railroading” me from any mindful dialogue and that has been the case since I entered this “dog lot” debate with an “Unattended Kennel” Ordinance that I helped to pass back in 2008.
        That is where most of the “disdain” for my character developed from the Irod culture here in Willow.
        That law is still on the books and forces mushers to have a handler (at the minimum) at the lot.
        Before I worked to get that law on the books, dogs were left in the trees around me….usually 40 – 50 per acre and no houses or trailers onsite…
        So, there is a tiny bit of the history involved.
        Have a good day folks.

    • Thx Jason and Bill . Water off a ducks back . The Alaskan way . Damn it’s a nice summer!

  2. I’ll throw something in here, relative to slowing the race down, that might work for some. Some years ago the race was changed to save money and make it easier on volunteers-that was a cut-off that removed the less competitive mushers that slowed down the overall race.
    The older races were considered something of camping trips that took many mushers much longer to get to Nome than those more competitive ones.
    If more of the purse money was spent on keeping the race like it originated that may slow down the race somewhat. I’m not in favor of outlawing these races, at all, but there may be something to getting the purse slimmed down to discourage the ever-present push to shorter finishing times and unpleasant dog suffering that appears to go with it.

    • Bill. Love your idea of race going back to what it was . Doubt that will happen. Maybe the distance should be doubled . As to reducing purse to slow the race , that’s a fallacy in logic . Most mushers are not racing specifically for purse . I was told by one very hard core second place racer he would race for a bag of dog food. It’s in the guys nature to race . Nothing to do with money . In reality the less there is of something the harder they go to get a piece . So less purse could work opposite. Of course there are some mushers that have almost no money, they race for purse but they are exception . Take the fact we have fastest red lantern winners ever recently. Back of pack gets faster and faster every year . Has nothing to do with their winnings as they never win hardly anything year after year . What people seam to miss is why races have sped up . Better trail conditions – rather harder packed surfaces , better dog condition for athletic performance, more fast dogs in each team , compounded and widespread dog care knowledge , lighter better gear , and just general knowledge on mushing . It’s easier on dogs and mushers now than 30 -40 years ago . People have raced since time immemorial. Fast and hard as possible. It’s in human nature. If you ever worked with horses you would see same trait .

      • I doubt it will happen, too.
        However, it was changed in order to speed up the race, by getting rid of those less competitive, and look what’s happened. It used to cost about $10 grand to run the race and I suspect that now it’s closer to $50 grand. My thinking is reduce the purse by making it less expensive to run the race for the musher. That might require some sort of lottery system to keep the number of teams manageable but it would certainly reduce the need for large sponsors. Granted there will be those that will still push for that bag of dog food but even he won’t need such huge expenses.

    • Bill you may have hit on something I haven’t thought about in long time . Itc pressures the back of pack to hustle or get pulled out . They tend to have most dog fatalities. Perhaps you hit on an unintended consequence of putting undue pressure on mushers who lack full racing ability. They used to happily stay in checkpoints for hours and days . Resting the dogs . Now if they do that they get pulled out for being non competitive. Perhaps Iditarod should alow a more relaxed time frame for mid to back of packers . Interesting thought you brought up .

  3. Take the fucking money out of the equation! Do your thing and live around that. Dogs running these races are now meat chickens (or indian runner ducks) to be USED for profit. It’s just sick. Yes, yes I know how much the owner’s love them so please spare me. FWI, I’m not anywhere close to a PITA person. I’m out of that circle because of all the organisms I’ve killed to feed my family. I fully realize how that opens me to challenging comments.

  4. Craig. A question. Do you know for sure Martin Buser was on the panel? You said the Quest was keeping the identities secret. What read here is your only source is Olivia. Is that unimpeachable? Curios.

    • well, actually Olivia and Hugh. so two sources. and it would seem insane of them to lie about something that so obviously is or isn’t. but i will double check.

  5. “ ‘I just want to be an Alaska dog musher,’ ” he said in a telephone interview. ”

    Then, just go mush! This whole “going pro” thing has become obscene.

  6. Buddha biased? Meditation is a source of happiness, war is a state of mind, albeit a non-virtuous one.

  7. What is going to kill the YQ and Iditarod is not PETA. But the Peter Principle. Race officials for these events are too often yahoos that rise past their level of competence. And then they routinely make big blunders. Like secret tribunal kangaroo courts to ruin mushers not within their inner circle of incompetence. It was a lot easier to hide stupid before social media and web news outlets like Craig’s. But now you can’t hide your stupid for long. The YQ and Iditarod prove this often. And it will be thrir downfall.

  8. Steve it’s not a claim or supposition. It’s a past fact of his actions in other cases . Checkable by public records. On several occasions. As well as personal knowledge. His actions have effected people’s lives for worse . If he was to have to be a judge of any of your behavior with animals or anything you ever did ,even if you were innocent as an angel , I would be concerned about him as a judge for you or anyone in the world . I can discuss in person someday . Just saying easy to find more impartial folks . Believe me or not . I know what I’m telling you . Regardless of Hugh guilt or innocence. This particular review board was tainted. As to condition of dog it’s hard for me personally to say . As I didn’t see the dog . I can’t rightly judge . I’m not going to try . I just hope Hugh gets a fair shake as I would for anyone on this planet . I was surprised his necropsy report didn’t show worse . People on site seamed to vouch for him . Those two things say a bit . That said I have no opinion as I don’t have first hand info . I hope the dog was treated well and if it wasn’t then let justice prevail.

  9. Thank you for an honest review of this situation. There is clear bias. An adversary as your Judge and Jury? Disgusting. They have ruined this man’s life because they don’t like him and his unconventional ways. So much for diversity. There is nothing in that report that remotely smacks of abuse. Sad part? No one will hold the YQ accountable. The Neff’s need to sue. I would absolutely contribute their legal defense fund.

  10. Bottom line is it was wrong to have a direct historically biased competitor on the determining panel . Biased on the issues as well as a known Hugh Neff detractor . Therefore whether Hugh is guilty or not has not been rightfully determined by this panel . It also muddied the water and makes the quest board look unprofessional as well as biased . Not a good sign . Brings into question who were other picks ? Were they biased as well? Looks like Hugh should be alowed an impartial public panel . Clear the waters .

    • Ramey,
      Almost all professionals in this world still have personal biases…Even the Pope prefers to walk over driving in a car…this does not preclude them to unsound judgments or predicate them to act as a “detractor” like you claim.
      Even the Buddha was biased (he preferred meditation over war)…
      You are the first one to cry “Apples vs Oranges” in your responses…
      Why not speak of the condition of Hugh’s dog and why the panel was righteous in upholding this decision?
      I for one am glad to see support for the “boards” original sanction from the Quest…better dog care to come.

    • Where do you plan to find an unbiased public panel? If there were no mushers on the panel everybody would be complaining about that. The University of Colorado did the necropsies, a retired US district Attorney, the entire rules committee -the list goes on – that’s some bias

      • Pete , have you never paid attention to how jury’s and judges are selected? Maybe you should study up . The courts always make an effort to neutralize bias . Selection of jurors . Judge expected to make decisions on facts / laws not his personal bias . They are not always successful yet there is always an attempt. Just because you are musher doesn’t mean you make all your decisions with bias . It’s pretty easy to find a panel with minimal bias . It’s also easy to find one that is biased .In this case it appears they went with bias . Prove me wrong please .

      • Ramey – this is not a court of law – we’re not talking about getting citizen’s in off the street to do their “Quest” duty. I can only imagine the out cry if Quest marched in a bunch of people with zero experience to be judge and jury. The rule clearly states that to overturn the sanction he must present ‘new and compelling evidence’. Clearly he didn’t – and if he did why isn’t he releasing it himself?

      • Pete . Your bias is blinding you . If you were inocent or guilty and charged with something society didn’t approve of you would deserve a fair hearing/ panel / Court / tribunal or judgment of any form . Let’s hope you get an unbiased as possible panel if such ever occurs. Particularly if it could put a permanent smear on your reputation. Let’s also hope if your favorite club / activity was charging you with something they would treat you fairly so their reputation was upheld to the highest degree and your favorite club would stay beyond rebuke . Make no mistake I am not judging Hugh inoccent or guilty . I just believe everyone involved deserves a fair shake . I would be to biased to be on the panel and I would decline. But probably not biased in the way you presume .

      • Honestly Ramey,
        You pick a handle like “Truth” and then sit up on your tower and toss out stones to those who disagree with you…
        You say to Pete: “Your bias is blinding you”
        Yet, you are the one with a corporate sponsored dog lot for long distance racing???
        Maybe you should take a look from 10,000 feet up and see who’s bias is really blinding them?
        I wonder if Alaska Communications dropped their sponsorship, if you would feel the same about running the race this year or if you would think differently?
        Jack Daniel’s got out and PETA is working on Coke next, so the purse will only get less and less in the years to come for Irod culture…
        The “Truth” is many folks down in America are over these long distance dog races and any side distractions that you may throw up as a “Bias” does little to detract from the main focus that your sponsors are dropping out and days of running these dogs to their death out on the trail are coming to an end…

      • Steve I’m sorry you and your neighbor have unresolved issues and this prompts you to be easily triggered. Perhaps you should discuss your issues with him so you feel less angry at everyone else . I feel for you . Interesting fact for you . Mushers raced before corporations and they will after . Humans make any excuse to race . Corporations just make it easier to provide for animals. Before you wildly strike out at people perhaps you should consider the long term repercussions of your actions. No one is judging you and attacking you and your life . Why do you feel the need to do that to others ? If you cannot stop yourself from judging,others consider doing it as fair as possible . We are all friends here . No one is attacking you .

      • Once again Ramey,
        you try to make it personal.
        this is not about me, or Pete.
        this is about Hugh Neff and his sanction.
        I have no personal problem with my neighbor, nor am I “attacking” anyone.
        I do not support commercial mushing (and the truth is you are a commercial musher)
        so, once again you do as I say “toss stones from your high horse”…

      • Steve I apologize if you feel I was tossing stones . Stated items were meant as picture examples to help you understand. That said why did you feel the need to lie and say you don’t have unresolved problems with your neighbors? It’s a matter of record that you have had major disagreements . Your own stated verbal disagreements as well as Including but not limited to shooting firearms every time a certain musher hooks up his dogs . Blocking right of ways and threatening people. Did you resolve those problems? I just want to be your freind . I respect your knowledge. I think if we were climbing a mountain together we would get along very well . I will try harder in future to not make you feel I’m making it personal. Sincere Apologies.

      • Ramey,
        OK…so you want to keep this going…
        What about the text messages that YOU sent to me after the Iditarod this year?
        What ever happened to the “Formal Complaint” you said you were filling with the ITC?
        What about how you said my “neighbor” would win at all costs?
        as for your lies above…
        I live on what the borough considers “an unmaintained roadway”…I am responsible for cutting trees and keeping the roadway open.
        The trail that was “closed” went across a friend’s private lot next door…he flew up to personally cut the trees to close it.
        As for shooting a gun behind my house at my 8 foot high root and dirt berms, well that is legal as well since I live over 1/3 of a mile from the last “maintained roadway”…and there is a 40 acre undeveloped lot behind me.
        Lastly, I have no idea when my neighbor “hooks up” so WTF does that have to do with anything?

      • Steve like I said. Many Apologies for making it feel personal. I will work harder to avoid it . On another note , back to article subject,what’s your take on how and why they chose specific hearing panel members for Hugh ?

      • Ramey,
        My take is you are a lying hypocrite…
        You never answered any of my questions about your “formal complaint” with ITC this year…
        We have people getting killed by bears in S.C. and you are publicly “bashing” me for safe target practice behind my house when I have a wife and child living in bear country (a 250 lb black bear ran out in front of us on the road last week).
        You also keep claiming that I have a problem with my neighbor, but what about everything you said about him?
        Like he is a “playboy” and has no job…all that?
        What about how Sorely was on the race trail with friends on snow machines and destroyed the trail behind Joar so you and Mitch could not catch up?
        Was that a lie as well?
        How would I have known that without you telling me?
        What about your post where you said you were “Blackmailed” by ITC ?
        That post is still up on the Medred article and that is where I got your cell phone number…
        If you have “documents” that show I have done something wrong then please post them for all to see.
        I have dealt with this musher bullshit for over 12 years in Willow and have never engaged anyone…
        I argued once with Dee Dee at my driveway…she came to yell at me on my property.
        I once told Joar to stop allowing 16 dogs to shit on my roadway multiple times a day (it was a health hazard to property owners out here….and he is NOT one, nor is he a U.S. citizen)…
        So, please “smarten up” and quite the B.S. ….we are not friends, but may have been in another life.
        I am sure when you say things were “documented” about me that you mean the B.S. article that “ZAZ” wrote for Rogoff a few years ago about an Iditarod “Critic”….well, nowhere is my name mentioned in that article and ZAZ wound up leaving her husband and children to sleep with an Iditarod handler….you know the true story. (I also hear she was on anti-depressants at the time of that writing)…that is only hearsay, but since you are bringing all the “hearsay” into this discussion…then read on!
        AS for the Hugh Neff story….well, this one can be placed in the history books as well.
        No need to beat a dead horse when we have real problems to deal with in AK….like poverty, opiate addiction, real crime and loss of resources to global partners….
        The GDP back in PA where I am from is 10 times greater than AK…figure that one out!
        Safe travels and happy trails!

      • Steve see top . I accidentally posted it at top out of line . You have my apologies.

      • Steve , thanks for bringing up Alaska’s other very important problems. I agree with you . Opiates , crime , ect . Take precedence.Trust me when I say I appreciate the work you do towards helping Alaska’s social issues. Police force ect . I actually support you . That doesn’t mean I’m perfect though. So I apologize for bringing things up . I was just trying to explain/ show my opinion and evidently I did it poorly. You have my sincere apologies. I didn’t mean to bother you . It was wrong of me to do that. It was completely wrong approach. Thx

      • Damn, this sure took off like a wild fire. Steve, that was quite an info dump there. Sounds like you guys have a personal history that goes way beyond this comment section.

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