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Cause of death determined for 2 Iditarod dogs; fifth dog dies

March 23, 2009 |  7:45 pm

Rick Larson, who later lost one of his dogs to pulmonary edema during the running of the Iditarod, puts booties on one of his sled dogs as he prepares for the race. Two dogs that died during the running of this year's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race had fluid in their lungs, according to race marshal Mark Nordman. The Anchorage Daily News reports:

Necropsies showed that both dogs had pulmonary edema, possibly because cardiac abnormalities prevented their hearts from moving fluid out of their lungs. Further tests are pending, Nordman reported.

Maynard, a member of musher Warren Palfrey's team, died about an hour from the race's finish line, and Omen, a member of musher Rick Larson's team, are the two to which Nordman referred. Their deaths brought the number of canine casualties during the race to five.  Causes of death have not yet been determined for the other three.

Responding to the dogs' deaths, PETA sent a letter to Col. Audie Halloway of the Alaska State Troopers requesting a criminal investigation to determine whether any of the mushers should be charged with violations of Alaska's cruelty to animals law. 

"The Iditarod is more than a thousand miles of torment for these dogs," said PETA director Debbie Leahy.  The dogs that died during the race -- Victor, Dizzy, Grasshopper, Maynard and Omen -- "deserve justice," Leahy added.

According to the Associated Press, a spokesperson for the state troopers said the law PETA referenced in its letter to Halloway does not generally apply to accepted dogsled racing contests.

--Lindsay Barnett

Related:
Fourth dog dies on Iditarod trail
Musher Lance Mackey wins his third consecutive Iditarod dogsled race
Two more dogs die on Iditarod trail; musher Lance Mackey looks poised to win race
Sled dog dies during Iditarod race

Photo: Rick Larson, who later lost one of his dogs to pulmonary edema during the running of the Iditarod, puts booties on one of his sled dogs as he prepares for the race. Credit: Al Grillo/Associated Press.

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