World Wildlife Fund Announces Sponsorship of Iditarod Dog Musher
An Environmental Article from


Help Sled Dogs
February 2008

EDITOR'S NOTE: Indirect, non-systematic observation is not really scientific.. even if it were, that's no justification to endorse obvious cruelty to "man's best friend."

Press Release From World Wildlife Fund Newsroom
29 February 2008

ANCHORAGE, AK – Three-time winner of the gruelling Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Martin Buser, is teaming up with WWF to be a Climate Witness for a journey across 1,150 miles of the Arctic. Buser will observe and share the changes that he sees during the famous route, inviting others along the trail to share their experiences and thoughts on climate change with him.

“This is my 25th year running the Iditarod and there is no doubt that climate change can be observed firsthand across Alaska — we’re moving the start of the race north due to a lack of snow, we haven’t had a storm during the Iditarod since 1990 and we are seeing many changes along the trail, such as open water,” said the Swiss veteran musher as he made final preparations ahead of the March 1 start in Anchorage. His wife, Kathy, will include climate change information on the blog during the race.

The Climate Witness Program allows people around the world to document first-hand the impacts of climate change on their communities and livelihoods. The testimonies are verified with leading climate scientists and shared with the world.

“WWF is truly proud to be sponsoring Martin in this year’s Iditarod,” said Margaret Williams, managing director of WWF’s Bering Sea and Kamchatka Program. “From his obvious love and care of his dogs to his deep concern for Alaskans, their environment and the threats to it posed by climate change, Martin is really the leader of the pack in more ways than one.”

The Arctic is already melting faster than in other period of recorded human history, impacting wildlife and the livelihoods of indigenous communities. In the Bering Sea region, WWF works in Russia and Alaska on a multi-faceted approach to influence research, policy and practices to build a more resilient future for people and nature.

WWF is at the forefront of engaging government, corporate and local partners to document, mitigate, and adapt to the effects of global warming throughout the Arctic.

Please Contact the World Wildlife Fund to voice your protest.

Sample letter provided below.

Dear World Wildlife Fund:

Please end your organization's support Martin Buser and the Iditarod dog sled race. For the dogs, this event is a bottomless pit of suffering. What happens to the dogs during the Iditarod includes death, paralysis, penile frostbite, bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, broken bones, torn muscles and tendons, sprains, torn footpads and anemia. One of Buser's dogs died in the Iditarod from "internal hemorrhage." At least 133 dogs have died in the race. No one knows how many dogs die after this tortuous ordeal or during training. For more facts about the Iditarod, visit the Sled Dog Action Coalition website,

On average, 53 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." "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.

Please end your organization's association with this horrific race and Martin Buser.

Your name and contact information

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