Iditarod adjustments tack, will meet with animal welfare leader

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In this March eight, 2018, file photo, Musher Ramey Smyth approaches Shageluk, Alaska, as rain falls and some sun hits the region in the course of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. (Marc Lester, Anchorage Each day News through AP, File)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The new head of Alaska’s Iditarod met with a leader of an animal welfare group that is devoted to ending the world’s most renowned sled dog race, which it sees as a cruel, deadly occasion for its canine participants.

Organizers of the 1,000-mile wilderness trek have for decades ignored or taken a defensive stance against Men and women for the Ethical Remedy of Animals, mentioned Iditarod CEO Rob Urbach, who took the helm of the organization in July.

The old response hasn’t worked, Urbach mentioned. He has began speaking to PETA about dog care and met with the group’s executive vice president Tracy Reiman in Los Angeles final Thursday.

“I’m coming in with open ears and eyes, to have an objective conversation about animal welfare,” Urbach mentioned prior to the meeting. “If there’s one thing we can understand from their organization, I’m prepared to listen.”

Reiman planned to speak about the variations among “the wants and behavior of dogs and these of humans,” she mentioned in an e-mail to The Linked Press.

Ahead of the meeting, she mentioned it was going to be the third time she has talked with Urbach and the initially in particular person.

Reiman noted that as a former CEO of USA Triathlon, Urbach knows endurance sports but not when applied to dogs.

“You can not extrapolate from human experiences in endurance racing and apply the outcome to dogs who are driven previous their limits,” she mentioned.

The Thursday summit, as Urbach named it, came following a challenging time for the Iditarod that was marked in current years by escalating stress from animal activists more than numerous dog deaths, a 2017 dog-doping scandal and the loss of major-name sponsors.

Urbach mentioned the Iditarod and PETA each care about animal welfare, and he hopes the two can come across popular ground by means of education about the race and remedy of the dogs.

In this March three, 2018, file photo, Anchorage resident Terry Fischer, with his Alaskan Husky Litho, takes place into the Men and women For the Ethical Remedy of Animals , PETA protest prior to the ceremonial start out of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage, Alaska. (Michael Dinneen, AP Photo, file)

Even so, he mentioned PETA has lengthy spread “grossly inaccurate and inflammatory” data about the Iditarod, saying it ruins dogs that do not die on the trail dogs are kept outdoors in freezing temperatures and ones that can not make the grade are killed.

Lots of dogs have run the race numerous occasions with no harm, Urbach mentioned, noting that Iditarod dogs are outside animals that train day-to-day and are at their prime in sub-zero climate.

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“There could possibly have been some culling years ago, but that is not component of the Iditarod’s culture going forward,” Urbach mentioned.

Reiman mentioned human athletes are not chained outdoors in freezing climate and they get appropriate nutrition and hydration. Her group has documented that Iditarod dogs are “fed rotten slop” and frozen water, she mentioned.

“We’re not opposed to a thousand-mile race, but the correct test of endurance is when humans do it beneath their personal energy — as some have — and leave dogs out of it,” she wrote.

By PETA’s count, extra than 150 dogs have died in the race, such as one particular this year. 5 dogs connected with the 2017 race also died.

Race officials dispute the total quantity of deaths and say no records on the topic have been kept in the Iditarod’s early years.

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