Sled Dog Racing: A new level of misinformation out of the Idiot-rod

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No, that is not a spelling error. I call the Iditarod race – the Idiot-rod. I do this to bring more attention to the plight of the dogs.

But what I read this morning, in an article about the event, took stunning to a whole new level. The piece ran on the Daily Barometer website, out of Oregon. It ran under the unfortunate headline – “Science behind the Last Great Race on Earth.”

I realize this phrase is what the race organizers use to promote the race. But in reality, there is nothing great about putting the lives of dogs at risk to win a prize. It’s not right or moral in greyhound racing and it’s not right or moral in sled dog racing.

And then placing the word “science” in the headline is inappropriate, without noting that applying science would mean the event would be banned forever.

But it gets worse. The writer goes from this:

Temperatures are lower than zero degrees, winds can hinder any visibility and the dangers of traveling through long hours of darkness are constant.

To this:

The dogs are happy in the colder temperature because they are so well insulated. The cool helps them not to get overheated. If the temperature rises to 15 degrees, like it has this year, it is tough on the dogs, according to Craig.

Craig is Morrie Craig, a professor of toxicology in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University – and author of the book – “The Care of the Racing Greyhound: A Guide for the Trainers, Breeders and Veterinarians.”

What Craig, who is there to drug test the dogs, should be doing is speaking out for the full ban of dog racing – greyhound and sled dog. But getting back to the quote above, I find it hard to believe that someone would suggest that dogs would be better off with temperatures below 15 degrees.

And put this quote together with the one above it, and we have a wide conflict in terms. And does Craig know these dogs typically live much of their lives tethered on a short chain to small dog house? Never – ever – should dogs be forced to live this way – period!

The article reports he is testing for 300 types of drugs. This fact alone doesn’t say much for the past history of this event. Is it so bad that a full 300 drugs are on the list he’s looking for?

And at one point, Craig is quoted as saying:

“One simply cannot ask me how many teams we have caught. Every major sporting event as long as it’s been around has always tested for drugs. We leave it private as to how many we catch and the penalties because this is a non-profit group of racers, and we aim to maintain the integrity of the race.”

Whaaat??? So it maintains the integrity of the race to keep it a secret how many teams are cheating and putting the health of their dogs at risk? And where in the hell does Craig get the notion that every major sporting event has always tested for drugs, going back to the beginning of any major sport?

I think, as a journalist, I would have asked him to provide proof of his statement.

And then it reported that the temperature could drop to 30-below zero. Where is the concern for the dogs in this temperature?

I am stunned by reading so many troubling paragraphs within one article. I realize some publications wrongfully promote the Idiot-rod as a sport, but we have to make sure articles have some basis in facts. If I wrote an article about baseball spring training, it would be inappropriate for me to blindly quote a manager as saying crack cocaine is good for young players. I would need to offer a counter to a wildly false statement such as that.

Journalists should be held to the same standard in reporting on dog racing.

 

PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

The annual Idiot-rod Race begins

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The Idiot-rod sled race is sadly underway and over the next week or so many articles will be published about the event – many written as if this was a legitimate “sport.”

Of course, the only way this would be a sport is if humans pulled the sleds while the dogs rode in the back.

An Associated Press story today includes this quote, which sounds like it came right out of the mouth of a greyhound racing insider.

“They look like this is what they live for,” said Leigh Hopper, 53, a registered nurse from Hendersonville, Tenn., as she watched mushers get their dogs ready for Sunday’s start. “They can’t wait to get out there and run.”

So completely clueless. Could these folks attend a dog fight and come out saying, “Wow. Those dogs were really excited about fighting each other”-?

And I guess they think the dogs just love living on the end of a short chain in the bitter cold, next to a tiny dog house, while their “owners” are inside by the fire every night.