Please visit the new home of Majikthise at bigthink.com/blogs/focal-point.

« Hanco: Bahn mi on Bergen | Main | Sunday Sermonette: George Carlin »

January 28, 2006

Idiotarod


Cart 858
Originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.
Not to be confused with the Iditarod dogsled race, the Idiotarod is a race from Brooklyn to Manhattan where teams of New Yorkers harness themselves to eleborately decorated shopping carts and careen through the streets. It's like Mardi Gras, Pamploma, and the marathon rolled into one.

I didn't get to see the actual race because of some, uh, law enforcement issues, which resulted in the relocation and re-relocation of the race's starting point and its en-route checkpoints.

I arrived at a park near the East River just in time to snap some pictures of the finishing teams and their rigs. Full photo set here.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c61e653ef00d834a593d269e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Idiotarod:

Comments

hmmm... One wonders if Alex Rodriguez has heard about this... ^..^

Caption on your picture claims that virgins are being sacrificed [to Fluffy].

How in the name of all that is unholy, did they find a virgin in Manhattan?

Shhhhh! Fluffy doesn't know what virgins taste like.

I just keep coming back here to be shushed and have a good chuckle....consider re-categorizing from New York to Humor.

While the Idiotarod is fun for people, the Alaskan Iditarod dog sled race is definitely torture for dogs. The Iditarod sled dog race has a long, well-documented history of dog deaths, illnesses and injuries.

In the Iditarod, dogs are forced to run 1,150 miles, which is the approximate distance between New York City and Miami, Florida, over a grueling terrain in 8 to 15 days. Dog deaths and injuries are common in the race. USA Today sports columnist Jon Saraceno called the Iditarod "a travesty of grueling proportions" and "Ihurtadog." Fox sportscaster Jim Rome called it "I-killed-a-dog." Orlando Sentinel sports columnist George Diaz said the race is "a barbaric ritual" and "an illegal sweatshop for dogs." USA Today business columnist Bruce Horovitz said the race is a "public-relations minefield."

The Sled Dog Action Coalition (SDAC) was founded in 1999 to educate America about the exploitation of sled dogs in Alaska's annual Iditarod dog sled race. The SDAC and its efforts to educate people about the brutalities associated with the Iditarod was profiled in USA Today and in the Miami Herald. I am emailing copies of these and other articles.

Please visit the SDAC website http://www.helpsleddogs.org to see pictures, and for more information. Be sure to read the quotes on http://www.helpsleddogs.org/remarks.htm and on all the quote pages that link to it. Links can be found in the drop box at the top and at the bottom of the page. All of the material on the site is true and verifiable.

Iditarod dogs are simply not the invincible animals race officials portray. Here's a short list of what happens to the dogs during the race: death, paralysis, penile frostbite, bleeding ulcers, broken bones, pneumonia, torn muscles and tendons, diarrhea, vomiting, hypothermia, fur loss, broken teeth, viral diseases, torn footpads, ruptured discs, sprains and lung damage.

At least 126 dogs have died in the Iditarod. There is no official count of dog deaths available for the race's early years. In "WinterDance: the Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod," a nonfiction book, Gary Paulsen describes witnessing an Iditarod musher brutally kicking a dog to death during the race. He wrote, "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 deeply, to cause serious injury. Kicks meant to kill."

Causes of death have also included strangulation in towlines, internal hemorrhaging after being gouged by a sled, liver injury, heart failure, and pneumonia. "Sudden death" and "external myopathy," a fatal condition in which a dog's muscles and organs deteriorate during extreme or prolonged exercise, have also occurred. The 1976 Iditarod winner, Jerry Riley, was accused of striking his dog with a snow hook (a large, sharp and heavy metal claw). In 1996, one of Rick Swenson's dogs died while he mushed his team through waist-deep water and ice. The Iditarod Trail Committee banned both mushers from the race but later reinstated them. In many states these incidents would be considered animal cruelty. Swenson is now on the Iditarod Board of Directors.

In the 2001 Iditarod, a sick dog was sent to a prison to be cared for by inmates and received no veterinary care. He was chained up in the cold and died. Another dog died by suffocating on his own vomit.

No one knows how many dogs die in training or after the race each year.

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 cross, 81 percent have lung damage. A report published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine said that 61 percent of the dogs who finish the Iditarod have ulcers versus zero percent pre-race.

Tom Classen, retired Air Force colonel and Alaskan resident for over 40 years, tells us that the dogs are beaten into submission:

"They've had the hell beaten out of them." "You don't just whisper into their ears, ‘OK, stand there until I tell you to run like the devil.' They understand one thing: a beating. These dogs are beaten into submission the same way elephants are trained for a circus. The mushers will deny it. And you know what? They are all lying." -USA Today, March 3, 2000 in Jon Saraceno's column

Beatings and whippings are common. Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, "I heard one highly respected [sled dog] driver once state that "‘Alaskans like the kind of dog they can beat on.'" "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...A whip is a very humane training tool."

Mushers believe in "culling" or killing unwanted dogs, including puppies. Many dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, are killed with a shot to the head, dragged or clubbed to death. "On-going cruelty is the law of many dog lots. Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don't pull are dragged to death in harnesses....." wrote Alaskan Mike Cranford in an article for Alaska's Bush Blade Newspaper (March, 2000).

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."

Iditarod administrators promote the race as a commemoration of sled dogs saving the children of Nome by bringing diphtheria serum from Anchorage in 1925. However, the co-founder of the Iditarod, Dorothy Page, said the race was not established to honor the sled drivers and dogs who carried the serum. In fact, 600 miles of this serum run was done by train and the other half was done by dogs running in relays, with no dog running over 100 miles. This isn't anything like the Iditarod.

The race has led to the proliferation of horrific dog kennels in which the dogs are treated very cruelly. Many kennels have over 100 dogs and some have as many as 200. It is standard for the dogs to spend their entire lives outside tethered to metal chains that can be as short as four feet long. In 1997 the United States Department of Agriculture determined that the tethering of dogs was inhumane and not in the animals' best interests. The chaining of dogs as a primary means of enclosure is prohibited in all cases where federal law applies. A dog who is permanently tethered is forced to urinate and defecate where he sleeps, which conflicts with his natural instinct to eliminate away from his living area.

Iditarod dogs are prisoners of abuse.

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

The comments to this entry are closed.