No one could have predicted but one of the Iditarod’s major sponsors would back out and even so, just one month before the controversial dogsled race is scheduled to take place.

Probably swayed by the major public protest against the Alaskan race, Coca Cola has decided to withdraw their support for the Iditarod. The race has had a history of animals deaths and cruelty allegations. The death toll since the race’s start is believed to be at 152.

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The beverage company is not the first though. There is a long list of brands that have severed ties with the controversial do race. Some include Costco, Jack Daniel’s, Maxwell House and Wells Fargo- that have all stopped sponsorship in recent years.

Dogs used in the Iditarod are treated in the most cruel way. They are chained to outdoor dog houses year-round when aren’t forced to run in chilling temperatures. Consequently, many dogs suffer from bleeding paws, stress fractures and ulcers. While other dogs who are considered to be ‘unfit’ are shot dead by kennel employees.

Zoya DeNure, a longtime musher even claims that this type of selective killing is not ‘unusual’ since they have to get rid of dogs who are too sick, too injured or too old to run.

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“The dogs have no legal protection here,” DeNure told The Dodo last March. “People can go out into the woods and shoot their dog for whatever reason. Sometimes that might be injury, sometimes it’s because they’re too old to race. They’ll make remarks like, ‘This guy isn’t running so well, we’re gonna get rid of him,’ as if he’s a piece of furniture or a machine. And these people are lauded in the public eye.”

Former dog caretaker Ashley Keith couldn’t turn a blind eye to the cruelty. So quit supporting it and later went on to found the welfare group Humane Mushing. He spoke to The Dodo last year about the horrifying experience while working at a mushing kennel.

After a giant company such as Coca-Cola’s withdrawal, Keith claims she can feel support slowly shifting towards the favor of dogs. The future finally looks promising.

“I feel elated hearing that the company no longer wants to be associated with such an abusive race,” Keith told The Dodo. “I think this is a smart move for such a large company, as there is no excuse to

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abuse and exploit animals in this day and age, and they are realizing that they should distance themselves from events that promote such practices. They obviously are moving toward a more humane and ethical corporate culture — and I applaud them for that!”

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