Sunday, March 22, 2009

Technology takes students along for ride on Iditarod

Students in Bonnie Edwards' sixth-grade class at Tropical Elementary on Merritt Island participate in a teleconference about the Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska. (Michelle Spitzer, FLORIDA TODAY)

Students in 300 classrooms nationwide are participating in the IDITAProject, which allows them to experience and learn about Alaska's Iditarod sled-dog race via teleconference. A Florida teacher says she is using the 1,100-mile race to teach lessons in geography, math and social studies, among other topics. Florida Today (Melbourne)

3 comments:

Sled Dog Action Coalition said...

Shame on the teachers who hype the Iditarod to children. This race has a long, well-documented history of dog deaths, illnesses and injuries. Five dogs have died thus far in the 2009 Iditarod. Two dogs were on the team of Dr. Lou Packer. Dr. Packer told the Anchorage Daily News he believes the two dogs froze to death in the brutally cold winds.  For the dogs, the Iditarod is a bottomless pit of suffering. What happens to the dogs during the race includes death, paralysis, frostbite (where it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, broken bones, torn muscles and tendons and sprains. At least 141 dogs have died in the race. No one knows how many dogs die after this tortuous ordeal or during training. For more facts about the Iditarod, visit the Sled Dog Action Coalition website, http://www.helpsleddogs.org .

On average, 53 percent of the dogs who start the race do not make it across the finish line. According to a report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, of those who do finish, 81 percent have lung damage. A report published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine said that 61 percent of the dogs who complete the Iditarod have ulcers versus zero percent pre-race.

Iditarod dog kennels are puppy mills. Mushers breed large numbers of dogs and routinely kill unwanted ones, including puppies. Many dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, including those who have outlived their usefulness, are killed with a shot to the head, dragged, drowned or clubbed to death. "Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don't pull are dragged to death in harnesses......" wrote former Iditarod dog handler Mike Cranford in an article for Alaska's Bush Blade Newspaper.

Dog beatings and whippings are common. During the 2007 Iditarod, eyewitnesses reported that musher Ramy Brooks kicked, punched and beat his dogs with a ski pole and a chain. Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, "Nagging a dog team is cruel and ineffective...A training device such as a whip is not cruel at all but is effective." "It is a common training device in use among dog mushers..."

Jon Saraceno wrote in his March 3, 2000 column in USA Today, "He [Colonel Tom Classen] confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their most advantageous racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens.. Or dragging them to their death."

During the race, veterinarians do not give the dogs physical exams at every checkpoint. Mushers speed through many checkpoints, so the dogs get the briefest visual checks, if that. Instead of pulling sick dogs from the race, veterinarians frequently give them massive doses of antibiotics to keep them running.

Most Iditarod dogs are forced to live at the end of a chain when they aren't hauling people around. It has been reported that dogs who don't make the main team are never taken off-chain. Chained dogs have been attacked by wolves, bears and other animals. Old and arthritic dogs suffer terrible pain in the blistering cold.

Margery Glickman
Sled Dog Action Coalition, http://www.helpsleddogs.org

ms.angala said...

Margery,

I am sorry to hear that. Thanks for letting me know.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Angala,

Margery is mis-informed and tries at every opportunity to post comments such as this around the internet. Search her name and you'll find hundreds of versions of the same comment stretching back over years.

She is a one-person task force spreading half-truths and outright lies.

The project mentioned here, and the learning goals of this effort are positive, and mushing dogs is not a harmful or negative endeavor.
I am an Alaskan With first hand experience...not just an opinion ;-)

Promethean Planet

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