Mush! The Iditarod Starts!

Amidst protests from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the 46th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race began this Saturday in Anchorage, Alaska. This year, about sixty-seven teams of dogs and mushers, kicked off the annual long-distance sled dog race across the state from Willow to Nome. The spectacle began with a ceremonial 11-mile journey through the state’s capital before the true competition began yesterday.

One of Alaska’s most iconic winter events, and an affair that draws interest, awe, and division from people across the country, the Iditarod is a long-distance dog sled race comprised of mushers and teams of dogs that must cover the distance between Willow to Nome. The dogs and their humans will traverse mountain ranges, frozen rivers, and other dangerous terrains to reach the finish line in an expected nine days.

Beyond the thousands of spectators lining up to chase the race over the course of the next week, PETA activists were in attendance to protest and criticize the event. Members of the animal rights group argued that the Iditarod has a long history of abusing and mistreating dogs. PETA reports that more than 150 dogs have died in the race over the years. Five dogs died in the 2017 race.

Jeanne Troshynski, a teacher who attended the beginning of the race on Saturday, defended the Iditarod.

“I think the majority of the people who run it have great integrity and love their dogs and do the best for their dogs,” she said.

Contention from animal rights activists’ hits organizers of the famous race during a year dealing with multiple problems. In October 2017, it was revealed that four-time winner Dallas Seavey was involved in a doping scandal when four of his dogs tested positive for opioids.

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