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There is some sad news being reported out of Alaska from this year’s Iditarod dogsled race. Four sled dogs participating in the Iditarod have passed away this year, making it the most deadly Iditarod for dogs since 2009, when six dogs died during the course of this famous race.
A recent article on the website for the Alaska Dispatch newspaper reports that the dogs have died in a variety of circumstances, most deaths occurring after they “drop” (i.e. collapse) at some point during the race and die either on the course or afterwards. The four deaths make this the most deadly Iditarod since six dogs died in 2009. The article notes that on average there is one dog death per race each year.
Experts note that overall, sled dog deaths have decreased in recent years, mostly because of increased knowledge about how to care for dogs during the race. A common cause of death in dogs who run long distances used to be gastric ulcers, a condition now treated with medications like Prilosec.
The exact causes of each of these recent collapses and deaths are unknown, but race officials say that necropsies will be conducted to determine precisely why these dogs died.
It’s worth noting that many animal rights advocates oppose dog races like the Iditarod for humane reasons. If you’re interested in adding your voice to this issue, check out PETA’s website, where you can sign a petition to the Iditarod Trail Committee asking them to end the race.
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