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

Wacky Quote of the Day – Topic: IdiocyRod Race

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On occasion, I read news stories and I’m floored by misinformation presented by one party or another – and sometimes a quote goes off the chart. The latest case comes from an AP story about the death of the sled dog during the 2013 IdiocyRod race.

In response to Dorado’s tragic death, the Iditarod Trail Committee states it will provide shelters at two major checkpoints and will more frequently check on dogs dropped off at these check points. It’s taken them all the way to 2013 to figure this out? Why did take race officials decades to understand that it’s cold and the weather can be harsh in Alaska?

And then the AP article quotes from a statement by a race officials:

“This type of self-examination is an important part of ITC’s historical commitment to the improvement of the welfare of the canine athletes that annually participate in the Race.”

When I got over the feeling that I was going to throw up, I read a second quote in the article –

“ITC does not believe it or any others acted negligently in any way relating to the death of Dorado or that Dorado’s death was foreseeable.”

So the dogs were tethered outside in harsh conditions that delayed officials from getting back to these dogs sooner – but the ITC doesn’t believe anyone is at fault.

I’m really not surprised that no race officials or participants want to take responsibility for this dog’s suffering.


PACK MENTALITY BLOG: Compassion - teamed with Science and Logic

Disgusting article on Iditarod race

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A completely disgusting article is up on the NBC Sports website, reporting on the so-called ‘winner’ of the IdiocyRod Sled Dog Race, as the oldest person to ride in the back of the sled that crossed the finish line first in the animal-cruelty competition.

The sled-rider is 53 years old and was quoted as saying, “This is for all of the gentlemen of a certain age.” The story reported on his race time, when all he did was ride in the back of the sled. The lead paragraph claimed HE won the “grueling test of endurance.”

In reality, it was the dogs who suffered, while all he did was ride along – yes – in the cold weather. If he had pulled the sled or walked the 1,000 miles, that would be an achievement. The article went on to claim his “victory came after a dueling sprint” with another sled-rider. NO – the dogs sprinted.

And without noting the dogs that have died over the years in this event and the thousands that have reportedly been killed through the racer-selection process, the article gets mushy about how the riders hugged the dogs at the finish line.

The article was so full of crap, it nearly gummed up my desktop computer. I realize the writers were given an assignment to cover it, but they did not have to become race promoters. The best phrase I can come up with is – disgusting.

The reporting is beyond irresponsible and NBC Sports should issue an apology for posting the article on its website. I hope they don’t decide to start covering dog fights.


Great blog post about the Iditarod (IdiocyRod) – on Tucson Tails

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As she always does, Karyn Zoldan has provided some great information on the animal-welfare front – this time in reporting about the Iditarod Dog Sled Race – or as I’ve renamed it – “The IdiocyRod.” And she rightfully notes where sled dog racing is exactly like greyhound racing.

One of the many links she provided in the post offers some extremely important information. Unwanted dogs are “culled” (killed) reportedly by the thousands. Some are devocalized so they cannot bark. Some have their teeth cut down – without even using an anesthetic.

They live lives of confinement when they are not racing and dogs are inbred in hopes of producing better racers. Most all of this looks a lot like greyhound racing.

How a civilized society can allow this is beyond reason. And as Karen points out, companies are sponsoring the event. And sadly, it considered to be a sport. It is NOT a sport.


The IdiocyRod Sled Race begins in Alaska

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Yet another IdiocyRod Sled Race has started in Alaska – something commonly known as the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The name is derived from the word “idiot.” – Or at least the founders wanted to open the door for animal-welfare types like me to change it to IdiocyRod.

People who don’t yet understand the suffering the dogs endure, regularly praise the people who ride in the sled behind the dogs, as if they are somehow considered athletes. Let’s get this strait – they ride along in the sled. Sure – it’s cold out. But people get more work in by shoveling a long driveway after a big snowstorm.

I know supporters of the IdiocyRod will try to claim I don’t know what I’m taking about. (It’s a weak try, but they might try.) They’ll claim the dogs get great care and that the biped participants are world-class athletes. Yeah – right. And puppy mill operators and the greyhound racing industry always claim their dogs get the best care and that they truly love animals. Thankfully, most people don’t buy it.

The first real sports story from this annual event will only arise when the humans are strapped in front of the sled and the dogs get to ride in the back. Or better yet, just leave the dogs inside where it’s warm and comfy and let the humans pull around sleds loaded with bricks for hundreds of miles or more.

I’d actually watch that event on TV.