Thursday, January 07, 2010

An Open Letter to Winter

Dear Winter,

We need to talk. I know that you've had a lot of things going on with the solstice and global climate change and everything, so I know that you're really busy right now, but I'm afraid that this just isn't working out for me. I mean, I know that you're trying to do your best, but really your best isn't good enough for me. Sure, you have the cold down, and I appreciate being able to hide under my Snuggie™ with a warm cup of hot chocolate. I also appreciate that you aren't sleety and freezing rainy like the last winter I knew. That was no fun whatsoever. Still, I think that you can do better.

I remember a long time ago, there used to be snow... not the one, two inches that you've been working on, but feet and feet of snow. So much snow that the City was literally shut down because you couldn't get anywhere. I miss that and right now, what you've doing, although I appreciate the effort, just means that I have to clean the car off twice a day, or shovel the walk three times a day. It's not satisfying, and honestly, I don't think it's working out.

Now, I'm going to give you one more chance to snow, and I mean really snow. I want it to snow so much that I can ride a sled from home to work (and yes, that means that you'll have to freeze the river too), preferably with my own pack of Iditarod-ready Huskies. I believe that you can do it.

I don't want to have to go back to Summer for my precipitation needs.

The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat


Sled Dog Action Coalition said...

For the dogs, the Iditarod is a bottomless pit of suffering. Six dogs died in the 2009 Iditarod, including two dogs on Dr. Lou Packer's team who froze to death in the brutally cold winds. What happens to the dogs during the race includes death, paralysis, frostbite (where it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, lung damage, pneumonia,
ruptured discs, viral diseases, broken bones, torn muscles and tendons and sprains. At least 142 dogs have died in the race. No one knows how many dogs die after this tortuous ordeal or during training.

On average, 52 percent of the dogs who start the race do not make it across the finish line. According to a report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, of those who do finish, 81 percent have lung damage. A report published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine said that 61 percent of the dogs who complete the Iditarod have ulcers versus zero percent pre-race.

Iditarod dog kennels are puppy mills. Mushers breed large numbers of dogs and routinely kill unwanted ones, including puppies. Many dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, including those who have outlived their usefulness, are killed with a shot to the head, dragged, drowned or clubbed to death. "Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don't pull are dragged to death in harnesses......" wrote former Iditarod dog handler Mike Cranford in an article for Alaska's Bush Blade Newspaper.

Dog beatings and whippings are common. During the 2007 Iditarod, eyewitnesses reported that musher Ramy Brooks kicked, punched and beat his dogs with a ski pole and a chain. Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, "Nagging a dog team is cruel and ineffective...A training device such as a whip is not cruel at all but is effective." He also said, "It is a common training device in use among dog mushers..."

Jon Saraceno wrote in his March 3, 2000 column in USA Today, "He [Colonel Tom Classen] confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their most advantageous racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens.. Or dragging them to their death."

During the race, veterinarians do not give the dogs physical exams at every checkpoint. Mushers speed through many checkpoints, so the dogs get the briefest visual checks, if that. Instead of pulling sick dogs from the race, veterinarians frequently give them massive doses of antibiotics to keep them running.

Most Iditarod dogs are forced to live at the end of a chain when they aren't hauling people around. It has been reported that dogs who don't make the main team are never taken off-chain. Chained dogs have been attacked by wolves, bears and other animals. Old and arthritic dogs suffer terrible pain in the blistering cold.

The Iditarod, with all the evils associated with it, has become a synonym for exploitation. The race imposes torture no dog should be forced to endure.

Margery Glickman
Sled Dog Action Coalition,

O said...

The Sled Dog Action Coalition office parties must be a rockin' good time, Ms. Buzz Killjoy.

deegazette said...

Dude, I know!! I was just about to wake my kid and suggest she start skipping English class and just learn her literacy lessons from blogs when I read Margery's comment after your post. After thinking more about it, even with her comment's tone and tactic, I will still wake the kid and point her to the blog. As soon as I join the coalition.

Dutch said...

It's so cold we're expecting freezing rain and a slight chance of snow here, and I'm in Florida.