Thursday, March 17, 2011

iditarod _ for the critics

'If you find yourself on a dog sled one day, make sure you're very familiar with the braking system,' joked seeitnow. 'You'll likely find yourself a long ways from home while your dog team enjoys an extra few hours taking you on another me it looked they had a genuine smile pasted on their cute faces.'
- rachel8, CNN iReport producer
iReport —
Taking place the first weekend in March every year, the Iditarod -- a dog sled race over 1,150 miles, across some of the world's most extreme terrain in temperatures often far below freezing -- has been called "The last great race on Earth." But is it now being threatened?

This year -- the 39th Annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race -- is already well under way in Alaska and as such the spotlight has returned yet again to the sport of dogsledding. And it has come under fire, again -- by the activists and animal rights organizations, such as PETA, who suggest that mushing is cruel and that the dogs are mistreated.

With all the buzz about dogsledding, I wanted to see for myself what it is all about.

I learned that sled dogs truly LOVE to run, more than anything, and mushers LOVE their dogs. I've seen first hand that the dogs are certainly happiest when they are running! There's no denying the HUGE GRINS these dogs get on their faces when they are getting ready to dash through the snow! That is, after all, what sled dogs (Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes) are bred to do! RUN! Mistreating these dogs would actually be to NOT let them run! And, for those people who find themselves with dogs they can't properly maintain, there are surely plenty of generous, kind-hearted mushers just like Sally Swan who will be glad to rescue them...

Having just met with an amazing musher, Sally Swan, who runs a husky rescue operation in Northern BC, I have to disagree with anyone who says that mushing, in general, is bad. While people unfortunately latch onto negative news, I'm quite sure that the actual truth is that the majority of mushers treat their dogs exceptionally well! Actually, I believe that exceptionally good (rather than bad) treatment is far more likely to be the sport's norm.

For more information about Dog Sled Rescue:

Produced and Hosted by Percy von Lipinski
Associate Produced and Edited by Tracy Bymoen

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