Honest Dogs, by Brian Patrick O'Donoghue - A Story of Triumph and Regret from the World's Toughest Sled Dog Race - (Kenmore, WA: Epicenter Press, 1999)
"N.C. is a village dog. If this injury keeps him from racing, his owner would probably put him down before considering cosmetic surgery."
"I sought out Joe May, my veterinarian's father, a race judge, and most significantly at this moment, a trapline-schooled musher. 'You know what Lloyd's going to say about this - that dog's wrist is never going to be right,' I said. 'He's a shooter.'"
"...I noticed one of the vets squatting over Scrim. Her performance had fallen off the last few miles. The vet acted more concerned than I cared to see. At least three vets had surrounded us. They were trading disturbing glances. And what are they whispering about? While I bedded the team in fresh straw, vets were examining the dogs' gums."
"I grabbed Khan by the collar and, dropping to my knees, bit him on the right ear. He yelped, sounding more indignant then hurt. 'No more screwing around,' I said, nose to nose, forcing him to look at me. 'YOU HEAR ME, KHAN?'"
"All the way from Dawson, I'd been cheating Feets and his fine comrades out of their deserved rest, grinding them down in the pursuit of teams faster than mine. I was racing, right?"
"Emerging from the wind tunnel, I stopped the team and pounced on Cyclone. I could have killed him barehanded. I settled for hurling him upslope, yelling: 'Bad dog. Bad, bad dog.' Then I bit him on one ear. He squealed and cowered. 'NEVER! NEVER do that again.'"
Winning Strategies for Distance Mushers, by Joe Runyan - Iditarod, Yukon Quest and Alpirod Champion - (Sacramento, CA: Griffin Printing Company, 1997)
"In two years, out of 140 pups, you should have acquired a nucleus of dogs that will take you to the finish line ahead of the pack. The next three years production is to give the additional talented athletes that it will take to complement your veteran nucleus."
"And, you are also just about ready for your first philosophical hurdle right square in the path of your quest for a big WIN because your neighbor, or somebody's visiting cousin, or a musher that believes nobody should have a good dog team, confronts you with the ultimate inquiry, 'Are you running a puppymill?'"
"Now, this is a serious question to resolve for some people. If you are the type of person where questions like this don't bother you, skip the next couple of pages and get back to the meat of the book. More power to you, your path is clear and unencumbered. Now, for the rest of the readers, the real answer to 'Are you running a puppymill?' is essentially 'yes.' Let's face it, you made the decision to raise 70 pups and pick out the 15 or 20 best ones. That means there are 50 pups left to sell, give away, or put down. You can't keep the average dogs because it will ruin your focus on developing a championship team and besides that, unless you are independently wealthy, you can not afford it."
"My view point is to just get realistic and be a good farmer. Most of the pups will have such good breeding behind them that they will sell themselves. The ones that are just not performers are going to have to be eliminated."
Winterdance, by Gary Paulsen - The Fine Madness of Running The Iditarod - (New York, NY: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994)
"I did not know this man, had never seen him run dogs, but clearly there was something terribly wrong with his team and he had done something bad with them. They seemed completely down, beaten, driven in some way into the ground. They tried to move away from him and when held in place by the gangline and tugs they instead tried to hide beneath each other - anything to avoid the man who was now leaning over them with his fist raised, screaming. He had his back to me so I could not see his face but his body was rigid, stiff with anger. He swung at one of the dogs nearest him with his hand and the dog ducked away so that he missed. He aimed for another blow at a different dog and this one, too, dodged and avoided the strike. Then he changed and reached for the dogs, tried to pull them, jerk them to their feet, working up the team and back down again, his rage growing so that his voice was incoherent, bubbling and seething with it. But they would not rise. He would snatch them to their feet but they would immediately crumple back into the snow. He faced me now, had worked around the team so that he was facing in my direction, but I do not think that he could see me in his fury. I was quite close - twenty, thirty feet - close enough to see that his eyes were red with blood and anger and he could not see past it, past the dogs in front of him. Then he did it. With great deliberation he selected one of the dogs near his feet, a small brown dog with a white ruff of fur around its neck and a thick, dense coat, and he kicked it. He did not kick it to get it up. He was wearing bunny boots - large, heavy, rigidly insulated boots that weighed three or four pounds each, boots that easily become weapons. He kicked with one of these boots and he did not kick simply to make the dog rise and run. 'You son of a bitch,' he hissed, 'you dirty son of a bitch, I'll teach you not to duck...' And all the time he was kicking the dog. Not with the imprecision of anger, the kicks, not kicks to match his rage but aimed, clinical, vicious kicks. Kicks meant to hurt, to hurt deeply, to cause serious injury. Kicks meant to kill. He kicked the dog in the head and it screamed in pain and again in the head and then carefully, aimed carefully and with great force, in the side just to the rear of the rib cage. The dog's screams had gone on all this time but with the last kick - the blow must have almost literally exploded the dog's liver - the dog fell back and grew still and it was over..."
"I sat at a checkpoint and watched a man feeding his dogs. He could not get close to them without injury. They were half-wild, yellow-eyed beasts, some with hair that hung to the ground. And they hated. Not just men, not just all men - including the man who rode their sled - but all things. Other dogs, trees, the world - they simply hated. While feeding, the musher had to place the food in a bowl, then use a stick to push the bowl to where the picketed dogs could reach it. In a later checkpoint, these same dogs would catch a dog from another team, kill it in seconds, and start eating it before they could be dragged off."
"They know that when they leave the checkpoint they are going to have to pull for some distance and they do not want to carry any extra weight so they 'blow' themselves on their way out. Consequently, there is a sea of fresh dog crap leaving each checkpoint."
"The Burn fried me mentally and destroyed me physically. Without a snow cushion for the sled the jarring of the ground was brutal - like downhill skiing in bad moguls for thirty-six hours straight."
"If a female goes into heat, the cure is to rub Vick's on her reproductive organ to hide the smell with menthol."
Some people proudly display Iditarod abuse and neglect on their websites in the form of professional photography:
(Please note that you have to physically copy/paste the link address, due to the fact that the photographer has been contacted regarding their support of sled dog abuse and has made it so the server hosting Break The Chains - Save The Sled Dogs is unable to link directly to their site.)
Kids petting a very thin Iditarod dog: http://www.alaskastock.com/resultsframe.asp?inline=true&image=001BA+AA0397D001&wwwflag=3&imagepos=4
Dog being walked inhumanely by volunteer: http://www.alaskastock.com/resultsframe.asp?inline=true&image=001BA+AA0160D001&wwwflag=3&imagepos=16
Terrified dog being loaded into a crowded plane: http://www.alaskastock.com/resultsframe.asp?inline=true&image=001BA+AA0132D001&wwwflag=3&imagepos=18
Overcrowded dropped dogs, some tangled by their tethers, terrified inside a plane:
Dog being choked while being unloaded from plane: http://www.alaskastock.com/resultsframe.asp?inline=true&image=001AY+AA0428D001&wwwflag=3&imagepos=46
Another dog being choked while it is unloaded from the drop plane:
Dropped dogs, scared and overcrowded in a small plane:
Very skinny Iditarod dogs:
Stressed, frost-covered dogs running in -35 degree temperatures:
Terrified dogs attempt a river crossing:
Very thin Iditarod dogs:
Thin Iditarod dog being forced to eat food off the straw:
Volunteer dragging/choking lead dog:
Veterinarian examining very thin dog with unhealthy coat: