During the brutal 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, one more dog has died recently. She was a 5-year-old dog, Oshi.
Richie Beattie, Oshi’s musher, was named rookie of the year for being the first rookie to cross the finish line last week. However, they couldn’t celebrate for long. The Iditarod officials confirmed that Oshi sadly passed away the next day.
When Oshi took her last breath, she was at an animal hospital located in Anchorage, Alaska. There, she was diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia, caused by inhaling saliva, stomach acid, for food into the lungs.
The Iditarod Trail Committee veterinarians tested Oshi and noticed signs of pneumonia after the race was completed.
Oshi was stabilized and flown to another hospital by emergency charter flight for evaluation and needed care. That was where she later died.
Oshi was only one of the more than 150 deaths ever since the race started taking place in 1973. But that number only includes the number of dogs that died during the race. There are hundreds of more dogs who are killed every year at training facilities and kennels.
Animal lovers have been concerned about the way these sled dogs are being treated on and off the trail for years, however, they don’t seem to be receiving the same security as pets under local animal protection laws.
A travelling vet, Eric Jayne, who practised in rural Alaska from 1999 to 2009 claims to have witnessed Iditarod mushers racing their dogs even when they were sick or injured, more than once. Sometimes, they are even on the verge of death.
“It’s so isolated out in the wilderness and the dogs get very exhausted,” Jayne said about the race last year. “I’ve seen many teams shooting out bloody diarrhoea — and at that point, any sane veterinarian would say, ‘All right, the race is over.’ But not all of them will.”
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