Family picks up sled dog racing as a hobby – fails on understanding dogs

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When families look for a new hobby, it typically means they pick up boating or bike riding or hiking or golf or camping or something along these lines. It is not the case for one Wisconsin family, who decided to dip into sled dog racing.

One particular quote in the Washington Times article deserves a Wacky Statement of the Week Award. The dad in the story says – “These dogs live to race, and they’re like part of our family.” BUT, it is immediately noted that he went on to add that he believes canines should live outside. So does he force any of his human family members to live outside?

Dogs suffer and die in sled dog racing and the dogs are typically forced to live outside – tied to a tiny wooden dog house on a short tether. It’s not a hobby. It’s a cruel activity.


PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

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

Some thoughts about the media and dog racing

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Every time I read a news story reporting on greyhound racing or dog sled racing in a positive light, in what is typically a legitimate news outlet, it screams of poor journalism.

And for sports news outlets to report dog race results – the way the national media reports on the IdiocyRod, for example – ranks as a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10 on the journalism scale. Even if for just a moment, we put aside the cruelty involved in these industries, it ranks with reporting the results of a street-corner dice game in the ‘Sports’ section.

John Smith beat Howard Howey with role of seven in a back alley off Market Street – and won 10 bucks. More details at 11.

Report on more local sports. It is far better to report on the local recreation team that won its league tournament – or in the case of national media, do that too. Report more news about youth sports safety or on the U10 team that won a national tournament. Don’t waste space on crap; especially crap with a history of animal cruelty and death of animals on the race course.

But it also poor journalism to consistently ignore the primary issue within the subject matter you are reporting on. The major component within dog racing is the treatment and death of dogs. I’ve been a sports journalist too for 14 years. I would never want to cover a game without noting the primary news out of that game. Or I’d never want to write a feature about a particular sport or event or athlete, without mentioning the primary piece of information from that story.

I already hear the naysayers who don’t agree with me. They might be saying, ‘But wait, they are only reporting the results. They can’t mention the horrors of dog racing every time they cover a race.

But that’s the point. Why cover something in this way to begin with, knowing there are horrors behind the scenes? We don’t see dog-fight results in the paper for a reason. True, it’s illegal. But we also know it’s horrible.

Stop covering it and cover something else. Do this and maybe it could lead to dog racing going away for good.


PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Sled dog killer given light sentence – and Oklahoma forms animal-welfare roundtable

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The man who killed 100 sled dogs in Whistler, B.C. Canada back in 2010 was handed a very light punishment in court – “three years probation, 200 hours of community service, a $1,725 fine, a three-year ban on commercial involvement with animals and a 10-year firearms ownership prohibition” – according to a story posted Friday on Yahoo News.

Robert Fawcett was accused of shooting the dogs or slitting their throats before tossing their bodies into a mass grave. The maximum punishment for an offense such as this would have been five years in prison and up to a $75,000 fine.

So once again, we see someone horribly torture animals only to have a court pat them on the back and send them on their way. It’s terrible. Where is this court’s responsibility in protecting the innocent? Have some courts in the US and Canada turned away from being the bedrock of the criminal justice system? Have they turned into the criminal support system?

AND – In Oklahoma, a roundtable has been formed to discuss animal-welfare topics.

The lead paragraph of the NewsOK article reads, “” Where animals fare well, children, families and individuals fare well. This is one of the guiding principals of The Oklahoma Roundtable for Animal Welfare. “”

The most pressing issues identified by the group: ” …. education for the general public and industry professionals; minimum standards of care in various fields from animal rescues to shelters to livestock production; disaster preparedness and response, affordable services and education outreach for underserved populations; regulation of exotic and wildlife ownership and trade, community and field awareness related to the human/animal bond; and support for law enforcement agencies.”

I wish them great success.

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.

Animal-welfare headlines from around the globe

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Animal welfare in China gaining ground: Famous Chinese celebrities are speaking out about animal welfare issues and ABC News reports one top animal-welfare advocate notes the affect has been to see the “interest in animal rights snowball in China over the last few years.”

Basketball star Yao Ming has been speaking out against bear bile farming and shark fin soup.

Bear bile farm opens its doors to journalists – not: The Guizhentang pharmaceutical company in China claimed it was opening it doors to one of its bear bile farms to journalists on Wednesday. But like the greyhound racing industry, it was all a scam.

Turns out journalists were not allowed to ask questions during the “show.” And foreign reporters were not allowed in – according to a story posted today on

And the troubling news from this evil industry only gets worse, as the this company plans to increase the number of bears its tortures each and every day from 470 to 1,200.

And then there is this from the The West article, via AFP:

“” “”

To extract the bile, bears are often placed in cages so small they cannot move, while tubes are inserted in their gall bladders to extract the bile for extended periods of time, animal rights groups have said.

According to the non-governmental group Animals Asia, official figures state that around 7,000 bears still languish in bile farms across China, but many more could be used in illegal establishments.

“” “”

300 elephants slaughtered for their tusks: In northern Cameroon, poachers have killed 300 elephants in the last month. Estimates put the elephant population at only between 1,000 and 5,000 left in Cameroon.

The people who murder these elephants and the people who create the demand by purchasing the ivory or the products are as evil as anyone on the planet. They all should be housed in the worst basements in the dirtiest prisons on Earth.

New sled dog regulations deemed a fail by welfare folks: In Vancouver, BC, animal-welfare supporters are crying foul over new regulations, developed in the light of the horrible sled-dog massacre last year.

The Vancouver Sun article reports the Sled Dog Code of Practice, developed by the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, contains “instructions on how to humanely shoot unwanted dogs.”

From the story – “” The new document contains detailed instructions on how to humanely shoot a dog, including diagrams, illustrations and advice on restraining and calming the animal before shooting it and what to expect when the deed is done. “”

What in the world were these people thinking? The outrage that led to these new regulations spread far and wide because of the inhumane manner in which the dogs were killed. So in response, the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture decides to develop a how-to pamphlet on inhumanely killing dogs.

This would be like the Catholic Church apologizing for the abuse of children by some priest – and in response issuing a how-to booklet on improperly touching kids, for reduced impacts. No, the church wouldn’t do this because it’s stupid and it’s wrong.

The only humane way to euthanize a dog – or any other higher-order animal – is by injection.

But the article also includes this – “” Another working group member, Nancy Clarke, an animal science professor at the University of British Columbia, said a gunshot can be just as humane as other methods of euthanizing dogs — if it’s done correctly. “”

How could an animal science professor say something like this? I’m floored. The statement is amazingly false. To suggest a gunshot is “just as humane” as injection shows a lack of understanding of self-awareness and state of consciousness.

Lifeforce and the Vancouver Humane Society have called for a total ban on sled-dog tours and races. I fully agree. Too many bad things are happening.

Stronger animal-welfare regulations to be adopted in BC, after sled-dog massacre

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In the dark shadow of the massacre of 100 sled dogs in BC, Canada, new regulations are set to be enacted in the region. New penalties will include fines from $10,000 to $75,000 and from six months to two years in prison.

From an article on

“” Other recommendations included forming a regulatory authority that would create standards of care for sled-dog operators in B.C., including how dogs are euthanized, as well as requiring an annual inspection by the SPCA or veterinarians. “”

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