Bubbling anger

Iditarod race hdqtsIn this the Age of Rage, it comes as no surprise that some in Alaska are furious that the animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is protesting the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race here in its homeland.

“The Last Great Race” as it is trademarked – the 1,000-mile, epic sled-dog march from Anchorage to Nome on the coast of the Bering Sea – is a Last Frontier icon for Godsake.

Challenging the Iditarod in the 49th state because some dogs might lead less than perfect lives or suffer injuries during the race is like trying to take down the Superbowl in the rest of the country because National Football League (NFL) games leave many players physically disabled and about 40 percent, according to one study, suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

If you’re an Alaskan supporter of the Iditarod, be thankful it doesn’t do to dogs what the NFL does to people. If it did, the last of the last great races would have been run long ago.

Fortunately, the Iditarod isn’t a collision competition; it is an endurance competition. And nearly all the data compiled on endurance competitors has, over the years, concluded they live longer healthier lives.

“The evidence available indicates that top-level athletes live longer than the general population and have a lower risk of two major causes of mortality, namely, cardiovascular disease and cancer,” a meta-analysis of all the studies done on humans determined. 

For canines, the physiological outcome is little different. And, as in the NFL as in most other human sports, the overall outcome for the top Iditarod competitors is invariably good.

Even the coldest-hearted dog musher has been known to grow attached to that once-in-a-lifetime lead dog capable of elevating the performance of every dog in the team. If you’re lucky enough to stumble into the Tom Brady of canines, you don’t send him off to suffer in the heat of Southern California with an Outside couple in love with the idea of owning a retired Iditarod dog whose his racing days are over.

No, instead you pamper him in retirement and encourage him to father as many puppies as possible in the hope some of the fruit falls close to the tree.

As for the lesser performing dogs, who knows. The August Fund, an organization dedicated to finding new homes for sled days when their racing days are over, has placed hundreds of these animals with new owners, but others have ended up being dumped at state dog pounds or worse.

PETA’s poor choice

The dark side of Iditarod is that although it is good for most canine competitors, it is not good for all canine competitors.

PETA has a dark side, too. No matter how many dogs Iditarod mushers or wannabe Iditarod mushers might be killing, PETA is surely killing more. PETA is a hive of hypocrites.

It doesn’t matter.

No matter what enraged Idit-a-fans think, PETA hypocrisy doesn’t zero out Iditarod hypocrisy. If it were to turn out that the race that has been billing itself as “all about the dogs,” isn’t all about the dogs, there would surely be trouble.

Alaskans should actually be happy PETA is focusing its opposition to the Iditarod on the obscure issue of  “tethering” instead of investing in a thorough investigation as to the fate of Iditarod dogs past and present which might reveal who knows what.

Tethering has already been studied.

“Although tethering is intuitively less acceptable, the fact that the dogs rarely pulled at their chains and the lack of major differences in behavior indicate that tethering may be an acceptable alternative housing method, but this may depend on the breed and experience of the dog. Our findings provide no evidence that tethering was any more or less detrimental to dog welfare than being housed in pens,” the scientists at Cornell University concluded.

The Cornell study also recognized the most important facts that have long been known about canines: “space, exercise, and enrichment” make them happy.

Sled dogs that get to harness up with the pack and go for a daily run with their handler are sure to be happier than Fido locked in a dog crate by an owner whose off to work for eight or 10 or 12 hours per day.

Too many Americans treat dogs today in ways that are bad for both their psychological and physical health. Too many Americans are interested solely in dogs as “companion animals” because having a companion makes them feel good. Too many Americans stuff Fido with treats to say thanks for being an always-there, always-supportive, always-unquestioning friend, and if that is slowly killing you, well, I can always get a another dog.

“Obesity is a growing major epidemic. (You’ve heard this before? Read on.) Obesity is affecting every age and every location. (‘OK,’ you may say. Keep reading.) Obesity can lead to life-altering and -threatening chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, bone and joint problems and hair coat problems. (‘Yes, yes…er, what?’),” writes veterinarian Bruce Lee in Forbes.

“Obesity is affecting nearly every population, every group, ranging from beagles to poodles to Labradors to Siamese to British Shorthairs to Terrapins. (“Wait, are we talking about people?”) Yes, there is a global human obesity epidemic, but there is also a growing pet obesity epidemic.”

More than half the dogs in America are now reported to be obese. The amount of canine suffering caused by obesity is orders of magnitude greater than the injuries sustained by working dogs pulling sleds. There are vast numbers of dogs in this country overfed and underexercised.

None of them, however, are taking part in a public spectacle.

Iditarod targeted

Iditarod dogs, on the other hand, are in a spotlight because they are harnessed to sleds in front of people seeking fame, glory and, yes, money.

Anyone who thinks this isn’t going to raise questions about how the dogs are treated in this day and age is simply delusional. America long ago ceased to be an agrarian nation where children grew up around working animals, and livestock destined to become food.

Urbanization changed, and is still changing, the way animals – especially cats and dogs – are viewed. They are not simply animals anymore. They are pets, companion animals,  and – yes – even “friends” and “family” complete with all the baggage the latter designations bring along.

Vegan PETA activists understand the baggage. It’s at the root of their anti-tethering message: You wouldn’t put your child on a chain; why would you do so with your dog?

You also wouldn’t cage your child, which is why PETA presents the restraint issue as tethering versus pens. Pens are friendly accommodations.

You put your child in a “playpen” not a “playprison” even if what you are doing is locking that little rascal up for his or her own safety. And when you do tether your child, it isn’t called a tether.

It has a much friendlier name: Johnny Jump-Up.

A tethered infant Johnny or Julie, or Mike or Nina, or Mitch or DeeDee can have a lot of fun bouncing away on the end of a tether with their parents thinking that great.

Good versus bad here is all about perceptions.

Iditarod’s future is equally about perceptions. And its future isn’t going to be determined by the don’t-eat-meat, don’t-eat-fish, graze-like-a-cow and hug-a-grizzly bear goofballs of PETA anymore than it is going to be decided by the rabid, see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, all-is-wonderful Idit-a-fans.

Both of these groups are noisy lap dogs. They bark a lot, but it’s all just a cry for attention in hopes of rallying greater forces.

Along those lines, Alaskans should probably be celebrating PETA wasting money on anti-Iditarod bus signs in Anchorage. Most Alaskans will ignore those signs. Some outside might be enraged by them, and that is not good.

Because, as with so many things in this country, Iditarod’s future will be decided by the middle, by that great, unsophisticated “silent majority” as the late President Richard Nixon referred to it 1969.

Hearts and minds

Iditarod will survive as a global entity by winning over the dog-interested residents of the planet’s colder climes, or it will shrink back to being the esoteric, Alaska event it was before a young and photogenic Libby Riddles broke the race’s gender barrier.

Her 1985 victory was transformative. Three years later, the Alpirod launched in Europe. It was, before it faded, the largest sled-dog race outside of North America, and it helped spawn other distance races in Europe that continue to this day.

Its most direct descendant is the Lekkarod, which boasts a long list of partners – or what Americans would call sponsors – and the support of five ski resorts in the Alps, because no sporting event succeeds without money.

PETA understands the latter fact all too well. It’s attack on the Iditarod isn’t aimed at killing the race, a near impossibility. The Iditarod in some form will exist into the far, far future.

As five-time champ Rick  Swenson observed after the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), another animal-rights group, tried to kill the event in the 1994, there will be mushers willing to race to Nome even if all they win at the end is a bag of dog food.

If the Iditarod were to announce on Friday that it is folding, there would no doubt be a group of these people organizing on Saturday to race sans the support provided by today’s Iditarod with its well-marked and packed trail, its designated food and gear drops, and its warm checkpoints with straw for the dogs.

All of those expensive-to-set-up niceties make it easier to get a dog team from Willow to Nome, but they’re not vital. People in the early days of Iditarod made it from Knik to the finish line every year without the help that is provided now.

PETA clearly can’t stop people from taking dog teams to Nome. What it might be able to do, however, is slow the flow of money that supports the Iditarod as it exists today. Sponsors invariably want something for their investment.

If you’re Anchorage Chrysler-Dodge, a long time Iditarod sponsor, it might be something as simple as the goodwill of Alaskans. If you’re Donlin Gold, struggling to build a major mine along the upper Kuskokwim River in the heart of Alaska, it could be the gratitude of Alaskans for helping save a signature sporting event.

These businesses – like all others – weigh the good and the bad of an association with Iditarod.

If you’re Donlin, do you really care if PETA joins with environmental groups already lining up against your mine? Of course not.

Having an anti-hunting, anti-trapping, anti-fishing group opposing you might even help the mine win some support from the few people living along the river in the Kuskokwim wilderness where most people still hunt, trap and fish.

The same goes for Anchorage Chrysler-Dodge. In a state where many joke that PETA should be an acronym for People Eating Tasty Animals, do you really worry that PETA (the animal right’s version) opposition to the Iditarod is going to discourage anyone from buying a Dodge truck?

Probably not. Animal-rights opposition might even encourage a few to buy the Dodge instead of a Ford, Chevy or Toyota just to push back.

Outside Alaska, however, it’s a different story. Outside the math works out differently for business.

The Iditarod is a race way off in nowhere land with increasingly less relevance in a world shifting from wilderness sports to esports in a big way. “….Esports industry (is expected) to cross the billion-dollar threshold in 2019,” according to Forbes. 

Iditarod? It’s a funky little adventure in Alaska.

If your business is going to put itself in position to potentially take heat from animal right’s activists for supporting the race, what are you going to get in return?

If there is the criticism, is it going to be limited to the country’s tiny minority of animal right’s activists, or is there danger the issue could explode and gain cause bigger problems?

And if any of this happens, what is Iditarod going to do to cover your back?

Bayer drugs  – which for years provided Iditarod with worming medications for dogs to minimize the risk of toxocariasis for kids in rural Alaska and antibiotics to treat dogs suffering serious illnesses during the race – dropped its sponsorship in 2013 after it came under fire from animal-rights activists and was told by a now-deceased Iditarod official that the Iditarod couldn’t help with public relations.

Toxocariasis is an infection caused by the larvae of parasitic worms that usually live in the intestines of dogs and cats. Eggs from the worms can be excreted in dog crap if dogs aren’t treated. Areas near schools in rural Alaska are often used as dog lots for the Iditarod.

Iditarod apparently didn’t feel it could come out and simply say, “Look, all Bayer is doing here is helping us protect children and dogs. How can anyone be opposed to that?”

Iditarod couldn’t say that because there are issues associated with Iditarod that the race would rather ignore. Any number of these issues could pop up at any time to cause the Iditarod problems among that vast silent majority that will determine the future.

Suffice to say, if you are a supporter of The Last Great Race – as opposed to one of those fans with blinders on – there is a lot more to worry about than the PETA signs on the sides of buses in Anchorage.

Be happy the Municipality of Anchorage took their money to help finance public transportation. Be thankful PETA decided to spend it here instead of somewhere its message may have been embraced by a welcoming crowd.

And now go worry about real problems facing Iditarod because there are more than a few.











26 replies »

  1. ’ve been dogsledding since January of 1998. I ran dogs recreationally in Central New York until 2001, when I took a sabbatical my junior year of high school and traveled to Cambridge, Minnesota to work for 2000 Iditarod veteran Blake Freking and 1998 Junior Iditarod veteran Jennifer Deye. I lived and worked there until April of 2002, caring for and training approximately 75 Siberian Huskies. During my tenure at this kennel, I attended and participated in multiple sprint and mid-distance sled dog races throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. I also toured and trained at numerous competition kennels – including that of 4-time John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon Champion and (then) 2-time Iditarod veteran, Jamie Nelson in Togo, Minnesota.
    During these eight months I was exposed to many of the realities of industrial mushing. I witnessed dogs fracture their canine teeth, because they chewed on their chains out of boredom and frustration from being tethered, and their teeth became stuck in the chain. I witnessed dogs become entangled and nearly suffocate because their chains stretched from the constant jerking of the dogs running their perimeter circle, and they were able to become intertwined with a neighboring dog. I was forced to accompany a perfectly healthy sled dog’s visit to the veterinarian for euthanasia, so that I would understand the importance of maintaining a sizeable, competitive kennel. This dog, named Bullet, was euthanized simply because he was too slow in harness, and no one was interested in buying him. We took his body back to the kennel and put it in the freezer, so that his pelt could later be used to make garments.
    The following two years after I returned east, I was asked to tour numerous purebred Siberian Husky kennels and share the knowledge I had learned while at the top purebred kennel in the Midwest. I traveled throughout Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York visiting individual kennels, and attending sled dog trade fairs and races. As in the Midwest, I witnessed extremely social dogs forced to live a solitary, chained existence for the majority of their lives in a variety of subpar housing conditions.
    In November of 2003, I traveled to Alaska to work for one of the sport’s most prominent families – the Seaveys. When I arrived at their Sterling kennel location (there are numerous kennel locations, each serving a different purpose), I was horrified to find hundreds of dogs chained in the worst conditions I had yet to experience. I couldn’t even see the end of the rows of dogs over the field that the dog lot was located in – they just disappeared into the horizon. Wooden dog houses were broken and in disrepair, with exposed screws and rotting wood. Many houses had no lip to keep bedding in and help retain body heat – not that there was any bedding. I was informed that not providing bedding was a cost-cutting measure, and one that would harden the dogs for the weather conditions they would face in the Iditarod. Many houses had holes which allowed in wind, rain, and snow – leaving the dogs brutally exposed to the elements year-round. Plastic barrel houses were worn away from dogs chewing on them, though they were slightly sturdier than the wooden houses which quickly succumbed to the damp weather. Many dogs were underweight, and a particular dog with no name was in noticeably worse shape than the others. He wasn’t eating or drinking, his stomach was tucked up, and his abdominal area was sensitive to touch. I urged my employers to get the dog veterinary care for days. Finally, Mitch put the dog in his truck and drove into the woods, returning without the dog.
    This was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. No longer willing to morally support industrial mushing due to the constant barrage of horrors I had witnessed throughout the years, I returned to Central New York and dedicated my time to sled dog rescue and humane mushing education. There were (and are still today) too many accepted cruelties within the industry. The mushing scene in North America is far different from that of Europe, where chaining is denounced by the largest purebred sled dog organization in the world – the World Sleddog Association. Sled dogs in the United States and Canada are exempt from most animal cruelty statutes, and viewed as livestock in many municipalities.
    The Iditarod is the Super Bowl of sled dog racing, and has no ties to the original life-saving Serum Run. The race was in fact patterned after the All Alaska Sweepstakes, and named in honor of mushing legend Leonhard Seppala (who happened to participate in the Serum Run). The race has become so industrialized that mushers factory farm and warehouse sled dogs in order to consistently field competitive teams. The Seavey family, alone, has grossed $1,300,222.32 in Iditarod purse winnings over the years. This is not a humane event, nor is it in any way traditional.
    Sled dogs have been present in North America since before European settlement, where they served in a necessary role as working draft animals – used to transport people, supplies, and even mail. Where sled dogs were once a part of daily life in order for native cultures to function and survive, the Iditarod has transformed them into the short-coated, Maserati versions of traditional village dogs. Iditarod dogs are often unable to even run without wearing coats and booties, and are required to be constantly treated with gastric ulcer medication to prevent them from forming life-threatening stomach ulcers due to the grueling, stressful nature of the race. This race commemorates nothing and honors no one, and I will continue to speak for the dogs who are used and discarded by the industry to keep it afloat.
    Ashley Keith

  2. The essence of the Iditarod is not ALL about the dogs of PETA. Sure, it is about honoring these well trained marathon canine athletes and what they are capable of doing under an experienced and compassionate musher, but also many other things. It is about legacy of dog mushing, promoting good dog care, best practices, volunteering and community spirit. This is where ITC can do better.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    1. Counteract the misinformation PETA is putting out with the truth.
    2. Support the sponsors on why they support the Race with Public Relations help.
    3. Publish articles on the successes the Veterinarian program has been doing like: increasing the number of dogs completing the Race, reducing the number of dog deaths, doing studies reducing ulcers, deworming al race dogs, doing physicals on every dog before and at every checkpoint. Veterinarians prevent many injuries by making recommendations even suggesting to pull a dog out of the race when warranted. The vet program was not welcomed in the past, but now mushers welcome the advice because dogs are musher’s partners in this race not machines.
    4. Vetarinarians use to volunteer their time providing dog care to local villages. What a tremedous public service/relations. Make it an official program of ITC.
    5. ITC could also provide a volunteer MD along the trail to provide medical care to mushers. A study was done one year measuring the hydration of mushers. 99% of the mushers wer poorly hydrated. This equates to potential poor decision making and preventable accidents.
    6. The ITC is doing random drug testing on mushers and should do trail testing to level the playing fieild.
    7. Drug testing on dogs has been on going on for 27 years. Purpose: Prevent deaths and maintain good dog care. If a drug positive is found then report it. Report it before the banquet in Nome and disqualify the musher. Using drugs is no place in this world event. If the ITC is serious about the drug program then put in consequences to stop it. Admit it, publicize it, and show the ITC wants to protect the health of the dogs. Stop misinformation that PETA puts out.
    8. Support good dog care in kennels by publishing best practices.
    9. Support the 1000s of generous volunteers.
    10. Mandatory rest stops are a good thing for dogs and mushers ITC did in the Race. Why not put in an addtitional mandatory 8 hour rest stop on the coast, like White Mountain? Sleep depredation contributes to poor decisions.
    11. Make every effort to get local village residents to participate in the Race. After all, Redington Sr. wanted to promote the slow demise of dog mushing by putting on this race. It is a heritage for Alaska not to lose.

    So, yes, we all get upset about PETA’s antics, but why not publicize positive things ITC does and can do to promote dog mushing: Good dog care, musher care, volunteer care. Maybe this is a better route than conplaining about PETA,

    Roy Catalano, former volunteer and sponsor for 15 years in the trail.

    • Roy sounds sharp and forward thinking. Sounds like very credible and ethical man . On other side Sometimes it is nesasary to fight fire with fire . Petas stated goal is to eliminate all pet and animal ownership. I guess they want extinction. They are a radical group who deserves equal treatment. Even people with a gold fish are in their sights . Even families who raise chickens for eggs even seeing eye dogs. Peta says any animal under ownership is wrong . I haven’t seen where peta printed a list of exclusions . They even poison dogs at dog shows and call it mercy killing. Creeps ! Peta people are deranged. The word needs to get out . I love my border collie ,perfect family dog , runs free ,and I think peta should look in the mirror. They are a money making insane group.

      • Opinion,
        For FULL disclosure you should make it clear you are an Iditarod Musher with over 20 years experience.
        Speaking of your one “pet” dog does not include the 3 dozen or so you have on chains.
        Maybe you should listen to more of Roy’s suggestions like an extra 8 hours of rest?
        The problem is many animal rights advocates have suggested many things to the ITC it just always falls on deaf ears.
        Like ending Chaining of dogs…
        This is why PETA is involved to provide a platform for activism, just like the ITC does for Corporate Mushing as well.
        Not trying to be mean, just trying to show your Opinion is very one sided (and Biased) as a corporate sponsored musher with significant skin in the game.

        P.S. many PETA supporters do not wish to end all pets on earth, but in places like LA the amount of neglected and loose strays is an epidemic that they are trying to help.
        Maybe you can find a way to understand the opposition to your last “great race”?

      • Steve quit claiming you know me . Using innuendo. You have no true idea who I am or what I’m like so quit with smear tactics. I didn’t say what all supporters are like . I spoke of their corporate moto and the documentation of what they do and did . Look it up . Quit defending an unethical corporate business . It’s not one sided it’s documented fact so back off the lies and innuendo . You say no offense but you act like a stalker and have no idea of my motives. Stick to issues. I’m all for your ideas of animal care . Im just not for peta. Just because I point out their hypocrisy doesn’t make me wrong.

      • Steve I’m all for information on what Peta does better than other shelters and animals rights groups . Feel free to show it to us . As of yet I’m not finding that anywhere. Petas stats are bad compared to many shelters . Many other American shelters don’t use predatory tactics and have great results for every dollar of donated money . I support them 100% show us all the numbers. I’m also supportive of your ideas on animal care . Your ideas appear to allow for simbiotic mutually beneficial relationships? Am I right? Show me if peta moto matches that . I only find documentation against it . Again I support your crusade that looks to raise the care of animals even if I don’t always agree with details. In principle you are correct. So don’t mistake my attack on peta as an attack on your values .

      • Opinion,
        I understand this is a personal debate for you.
        I am no stalker…
        We have communicated on this site for over a year…
        I have even contacted you when you posted a cell number over a year ago….but that is not my point.
        My point to you as a musher is that a lot of what Roy said above makes sense.
        I personally feel Iditarod teams should only get to drop one dog, then if more were tired the whole team should stop and rest.
        Using animals like interchangeable batteries does not sit well with animal rights groups.
        And let me tell you Glenn Greenwald (Intercept) believes these groups are the most organized political activists in the world.
        Maybe the Iditarod was Great back when it took a month and residents and mushers helped each other a long the way?
        I do not know, but currently the systemic abuse seems out of control.
        Right now 24 dogs are up for adoption at a Fairbanks shelter…
        The ad says they were all dropped off by a “well known musher” in the area.
        I am trying to find out who that was?
        This sort of stuff goes on all over the state.
        If you really want to step up and lead on this situation, then stop fighting PETA and look to the dogs.
        Like you once said, we are both “neighbors” by Alaskan standards.

      • Interesting . This is a personal debate for almost all animal lovers/ people due to Peta’s aggressive tactics and radical corporate agenda. Not just me . Let’s get that accurate. Don’t try to label me . Did you see me defend Iditarod or did you see me accurately label Peta ? Ask yourself that question. I’m defending people who love animals and try to exercise the development of a quality symbiotic relationship. I dislike how peta tries to twist English language and make themselves appear kind for killing animals without adequate time or effort to rehome . Stop trying to make this personal. To my knowledge we have never met . Prove you aren’t existing stalkerish behavior and leave me alone . Comprehende ? Discuss the issues and I’m game . Thanks

  3. It takes dogs to bring women to the conversation here @Medred. That deserves an attaboy!

    Now, what’s the bet line on @Medred EVER posting something, even in slightest way, negative about the current State admin? I’m certain that that would draw the distaff side, too.

    • Maybe Medred is waiting for some actual news about the current state admin? I think that Craig has a pretty solid history of reporting shitty things that his associates have been involved with in the past, what makes you think that he wouldn’t report nefarious or stupid stuff that happens with the state government? Do you think that he’s in cahoots with the current government? Did you not like his advertising during the election? Do you think that it made any difference in the actual election or do you think that the election was actually blown (pun intended) by our ex-lieutenant governor? It sounds like you might have some news worthy information there monk – please enlighten us if you actually have something besides innuendo…


    • Monk: you need me to post something negative about the current state administration? the whole thing is negative. do you think budget cuts – no matter where they come, public or private – are pretty? they’re ugly.

      now, if you think there’s a good story that isn’t being covered there, let me know. but from what i’ve seen, this is one area that has actually attracted MORE coverage in the fractured media business of the moment than less coverage.

      MustReadAlaska, The Midnight Sun, The Alaska Landmine, Alaska Public Media, ADN and more seem to be giving it a pretty good go. granted, the coverage might be more politics than policy, but there’s a good bit of coverage.

      i do admit to a preference for policy over politics. bit of a policy wonk. never much liked the infantile tribalism of American politics: to join us you have to think this and this and such. i was always to much of a George Patton guy:

      “if everyone is thinking alike, somebody is not thinking.”

      politics today is worse than ever with people thinking in lockstep and then arguing with each other that “you’re wrong!” “no, you’re wrong.” “i am not. you’re wrong.” and on and on.

      if you think there is significant policy issue being ignored – other than the still shrinking state economy which we need to figure out how to grow – ping me. and if you know of any new business start up in this state that have what looks to be a good idea, definitely ping me.

      i’m interested in those stories.

      • Craig,
        Funny you said:
        “do you think budget cuts – no matter where they come, public or private – are pretty? they’re ugly”
        Although I agree we have been faced with Austerity over the last 4 years ….this current administration has not “unveiled” their real budget yet, so how can you say this?
        All we got so far is a “war on crime” that is estimated to cost an additional $43 Million a year (told they will build more prisons and probably turn them over to the private sector to run.)
        We also were just told API would be handed over to a Corporation with a very shady past and it still will cost Alaskans an additional $12 Million a year.
        This on top of wasting Millions more on a Chinese pipeline to nowhere.
        This is not a Conservative Administration by any stretch of the word.
        Lastly, you are right that ADN is trying to cover this change of Policy which turns public Safety into a Corporate landmine of an unregulated mess that federal regulators will not longer enforce.

    • I believe that Art Chance said it best about this administration, although he was upset about being thrown overboard at the time. I’ll paraphrase his response as: “These guys don’t have a clue and are just praying that the price of oil goes up.”

      • Bill,
        I believe Alaska will see a push to privatize government services under this current administration.
        Many of these expansions will still cost our budget Millions.
        Many Alaskans forget that 1 percent of the population owns 3/4 of ALL corporate shares in America.
        I find it interesting ADN wrote a story and opened with a famous quote, just did not state whom it was from:
        “According to the old saying, history repeats itself twice: first as tragedy, second as farce.”
        This is from Karl Marx…
        I wonder what their implication is?
        As social and public Safety systems expand to corporate management this will only grow profits in one way (more patients and prisoners)…
        I feel ultimately Alaska will see more outside faces placed in key positions and less high paying state pension jobs left in the ashes of the old system.

      • They can push all they want, Steve. I suspect they will have their hands full dealing with our legislators and the price of oil.
        API has always had its issues, for reasons above my pay grade, so nothing new there IMO. As far as what happens to our good people, we’ll get to see it occur in real time-no question it will be on these guys who are in over their heads IMO.

  4. Look up peta kills animals. 35,000 since 98’ supposedly 80-97% of animals entering their shelter are killed . Supposedly mostly within 24 hours of entering. Little chance for adoption. Pictures of their kills in piles . Documentation of tens of peta dogs dumped into dumpsters.i was pretty surprised. They financially support criminals and supposedly terorist organizations. Very strange organization. I mostly agree with Brian bill and jack on this subject. Though also agree Iditarod appears to need work in multiple areas . As do most world events . Life of progress

    • That site is run by a front group for the meat industry, which has long tried to smear animal protection groups in an attempt to distract from its misdeeds. I encourage you to visit PETA’s website to see some of the animals PETA has helped (including those for whom they’ve found excellent, lifelong homes). PETA provides a painless end for the most desperate cases–animals who are suffering so badly that the only compassionate option is euthanasia. It’s heartbreaking work, but thank God they do it, rather than turning away and letting animals suffer just to make their “numbers” look appealing. Please watch this short video to see some of the animals PETA has helped in its community:

  5. Craig,
    This is a very interesting Opinion you have on the current “state of affairs”.
    Let me remind you that Nixon was not forced to resign by the “Silent Majority”, but by Daniel Ellsberg and his Pentagon Papers.
    You see, “written collaboration” has always shined a light on dark issues in America.
    PETA is just the “vehicle” and “platform” for activism these days…they support the voices behind the scenes.
    Three former Iditarod handlers have now gone public with their statements and PETA has been very supportive of their voices.
    For this alone they are owed at least some of our respect.
    Many media outlets are very interested in these events and you know better than I that the international community is watching this event.
    “Former musher Ashley Keith will never forget how she felt when she got her first glance behind the scenes. Raised in New York, Keith traveled to Alaska in 2003 to work at the kennel of Mitch Seavey”.
    “It was financially and emotionally heartbreaking for me when I realized that it was not something I could support,” she said.
    “At the kennel, Keith remembers there being around 200 dogs — many of whom were puppies and youngsters.”
    “The dogs had pretty much chewed through the houses from boredom and lack of socialization,” Keith said. “The houses were not insulated and didn’t provide protection from the wind. A ton of them had exposed nails sticking out of them and none of them had straw inside.” 
    “Years later, Jane Stevens, another handler who worked for Mitch Seavey, witnessed him brutally attack a dog just 10 days before the start of the 2011 Iditarod.”
    “Personally, I have never witnessed such a violent attack on a living creature before,” Stevens wrote in an open letter, which was published in the Whitehorse Daily Star.
    “The image of that explosion of anger and physical force of one man on a smaller animal is burnt to my memory.”
    This is the “Bubbling Anger” that many Alaskans choose to forget.

  6. Dog-sled racing is a cruel, greedy pastime that pushes dogs to run up to 100 miles a day across treacherous ice through biting winds, blinding snowstorms, and subzero temperatures, causing their paws to become painfully damaged. Many dogs suffer pulled muscles, stress fractures, diarrhea, dehydration, intestinal viruses, pneumonia, or bleeding stomach ulcers. More than 150 dogs have died in the Iditarod since it began, and those are just the deaths that have been reported.

    Unlike this cruel industry, which exploits dogs to feed humans’ egos, PETA is a shelter of last resort for animals who need euthanasia to end their suffering (many of whom have been rejected by other facilities because euthanizing them would make their “numbers” look bad). This includes dogs who are aggressive and unadoptable because they have been kept chained their entire lives; feral cats dying of contagious diseases; animals who are wracked with cancer; elderly animals who have no quality of life and whose desperate guardians brought them to PETA because they can’t afford to pay a vet to euthanize them; and the list goes on. Euthanasia is a kindness for animals who are suffering beyond hope and have nowhere else to turn. PETA refers healthy, adoptable animals to local shelters and has also found excellent, lifelong homes for many animals themselves. Please watch this short video to see some of the animals PETA has helped in its community:

    • Alright, I’ll bite. Making blanket statements like you did just undermines your cause. I’m certainly not a pro dog racing guy – it just bores me and to be honest, I don’t like seeing 50 dogs on tethers in a lot, HOWEVER, I know that most mushers love their animals and don’t treat them like a 4 wheeler that poops. When you say that all mushers abuse their teams, you totally discredit what you are trying to do – which I hope is to have animals be treated more humanely. This would be like me saying this about you folks: PETA kills more animals than it helps locate homes for.

      See, it’s truthful, however, it labels every member or supporter of your cause as a animal killer which is totally disingenuous. If you have specific accusations that can be proven towards certain mushers, I’m sure that most Alaskans would be happy to jump on your animal rights train and have that person banned from racing, but otherwise, quit with the blanket statements. Here are some more:

      Repubs are racist. Dems are socialists. Alaskans are hicks… I feel that blanket statements just make you look like a poor debater who possesses a lack of logic.


    • Animals were supposedly safe placed on God’s green earth, for the betterment of human beings. In reality, Mother Nature, has shown the majority of all living organisms are predated on. Sooner or later, our species, will be attacked and overwhelmed. Natural order of life. The strongest survive.
      We have had the time, and it is now drawing to a close. God willing! Make peace with your life, and take each day as it comes.

  7. Can I get an AMEN??? Great article Craig. Love the analogy to the NFL. The problem today is either someone is pissed off, crying, or always whining about something.

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