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PETA Slams Yukon Quest After Dog's Death.

Yukon Quest officials, citing preliminary necropsy results, said Tuesday a dog that died Feb. 11 did not show any signs of being abused or neglected. The 1,000 mile international sled dog race, held in Alaska, was slammed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

"Yet another dog has died in the name of greed, his body discarded at a checkpoint as his musher hops back on the trail to vie for a prize. Dogs will continue to die as long as they're forced to race through the ice and snow at gruelling speeds along the 1,000 -mile Iditarod and Yukon Quest trails, and PETA is calling for an end to these long-distance death traps before they claim any more victims," the non-profit said in a statement on Twitter. Yukon Quest and Iditarod are premier long-distance sled dog races in North America.

Veteran musher Misha Wiljes' five-year-old male dog, Joker, died nearly 3 miles outside of Central checkpoint. A press release from the Quest said Joker's cause of death was aspiration. 

"Joker was in good body condition and there were no signs of neglect or abuse," the ( statement read. "Final necropsy results are expected to be released within one month after the 2019 race finish."

The Quest race, which took place between Whitehorse and Fairbanks, started Feb. 2 and ended Monday afternoon.

Joker's death triggered condemnation from animal activists as this is the fourth year in a row that a dog died during the race. Last year, Hugh Neff's dog Boppy died before the team reached Dawson City. Neff was banned from competing in the 2019 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race "due to concerns over his lack of dog care" during the Yukon Quest last year. A necropsy indicated one of Neff's dogs was severely sick when it died during the 2018 race. The husky died from aspiration pneumonia, which happens when a dog inhales vomit.

"The Iditarod Trail Committee believes that the highest level of dog care must be achieved not only in its event but throughout the year," officials with the Iditarod Trail Committee said at the time. Neff won the Quest twice, in 2012 and 2016. He was placed as high as fifth in the Iditarod.

In 2017, Yuka Honda's dog Firefly died, and in 2016, Sebastien Dos Santos Borges' dog Polar died during the race.

Animal rights' activists have slammed the race for years, calling it inhumane and saying animals are exploited. However, Yukon Quest veterinarians maintain the dogs are generally in good shape and are taken care of on mandatory medical check stops.

"Generally all the dogs we see here look fantastic. They're in really good shape," Dr. Jessica Heath, a veterinarian in Whitehorse, reportedly said. "[Running the Yukon Quest] is a tremendous investment of money and resources. They're not going to bring a dog to the pre-race check that's not in really good shape."

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:Feb 13, 2019
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