Punish Caretakers of Deceased Iditarod Sled Dog

Target: Honorable Johan A. Earthman, District Attorney, Second Judicial Attorney’s Office: Nome, Alaska

Goal: Penalize caretakers of Iditarod sled dog that died from being left out in freezing temperatures

Dorado, an Iditarod sled dog, died of asphyxiation recently after owner Paige Drobny dropped him from her sled team. Caretakers left him outdoors overnight in negative 15-degree temperatures, where Dorado was buried in snow drifts, resulting in his death. According to Alaskan law, Drobny and the Iditarod caretakers did not do their duty as a animal guardians. Regardless of the dog’s performance in the race, he was entitled to shelter and safety. Activists are now asking that responsible parties be penalized for Dorado’s death.

Dorado was found dead on Friday, March 15 in Unalakleet, Alaska, less than 300 miles from the race’s finish. There, Dorado joined several other ‘dropped’ dogs, who were checked periodically throughout the night. While most dropped dogs were able to stay inside, about three-dozen, including Dorado, were kept in an outdoor lot for lack of space. Caretakers say Dorado was a healthy, normal dog the day before his death.

Paige Drobny was essentially a beginner at the Iditarod. She owns a dog kennel in Fairbanks, Alaska. Despite the death of her dog, Drobny remained in the race for nearly a week, until her finish at thirty-fourth place. Her husband, Cody Strathe, also a musher and co-owner of Drobny’s kennel, blames caretakers along the trail for Dorado’s death. As he told the Associated Press, “We thought that our dog was being cared for. That’s the race organization’s responsibility. We, as mushers, trusted them.”

The Iditarod has already been under fire from animal rights groups for its cruel treatment of sled dogs. In this instance, various groups involved in Dorado’s death blame each other for his neglect. Ask the District Attorney to penalize parties responsible for Dorado’s death.


Dear Mr. Earthman,

Last week, a healthy Iditarod sled dog died of asphyxiation after being left outdoors overnight in negative temperatures and buried in snow. The dog, named Dorado, was dropped from his owner’s sled team in Unalakleet, about 250 miles from the race’s finish. Now, responsible parties are blaming each other for the dog’s cruel and untimely death. Regardless, it stands that whoever is to blame must be punished for the neglectful treatment of this animal and his consequent death. This is not only the law in the state of Alaska, it is also the ethical action in regards to this creature’s life. Dorado trained his entire life to be a working sled dog and died alone in the cold for his troubles.

The Iditarod is already perceived negatively by animal rights advocates for its treatment of sled dogs overall. This glaringly obvious example must not go unpunished. I ask you to prosecute caretakers responsible for Dorado’s death.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Frank Kovalchek via Wikimedia

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  1. J Davidson says:

    This race is obsolete and nothing but abject abuse and cruelty to the hapless dogs who are forced to run it.

  2. Allysa Call says:

    Terrible, please see justice done

  3. Irene Lloyd-Wide says:

    There’s no doubt the dogs enjoy running but they deserve
    the best of care “AT ALL TIMES” and those so called “care takers” obviously DON’T care.
    To Dorado, may you “Rest In Peace”

  4. cascadian12 says:

    I’ll tell you who is to blame: the Iditarod organizers! That race is wrong on multiple levels. First, the race is too damn long. Nothing is proven by having an 1150 mile-race other than how many dogs are going to die. But this is all about money for everyone, so the more villages that participate the more money there is. Second, any musher who would put their dogs through this do not have the dogs’ interests at heart. Third, the veterinarians who certify that everything is ok and “take care of the dogs” do not have the dogs’ interests at heart. Everyone is just looking for money and glory and no one has the dogs’ interests at heart.

    The kennel should not have accepted the dogs they couldn’t house inside. After dogs have been run hard like this, their energy is depleted and they are going to get cold more easily.

    Basically everyone is to blame, including the people who patronize this race and everyone that promotes it. Shame on you! Time to shut down this race (and greyhound races, horse races, and every other animal entertainment).

  5. Ann Rogers says:

    The Iditarod kills dogs just about every year; at least 143 to date, and it must end. Dog deaths average more than three per race. Six dogs died in 2009.

    More than half the dogs did not finish the race which happens every year. According to the Iditarod website, 649 dogs did not make it to the finish, which is 62% of the 1040 dogs who started. The dogs were dropped due to injury, exhaustion, or not wanting to continue. No musher finished with all 16 of their dogs and some finished with only 7 dogs.

    It is cruel to have such a long, (the distance from Maine to Florida) treacherous, unnecessary race when over half the dogs cannot finish, at the proven risk of injury, exhaustion, or death.

    When the dogs are not racing or training they are each kept on a short chain, attached to their small enclosure, not able to play or interact with their kennel mates. This is considered inhumane and illegal in many communities. Check out last year’s winner, Dallas Seavey’s kennel: http://www.alaskadispatch.com/

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