Following crashes, Alaska’s Iditarod dogs receive neon visibility harnesses

Alaska’s official state sport, the Iditarod sled dog race, is scheduled to begin on Saturday. This year, there will be an increased emphasis on safety as a result of five dogs losing their lives and eight others being hurt in crashes with snowmobiles when the dogs were practicing on shared, multipurpose trails. Before starting the days-long race that takes the dog-and-human sled teams nearly 1,600 kilometers over Alaska’s harsh terrain, mushers will have the opportunity to purchase light-up, neon harnesses or necklaces for their dogs for the first time.

 

The 38 mushers will follow a path that passes through two mountain ranges, the frozen Yukon River, and the Bering Sea. They will emerge from the ice and make their final push to the finish line on Main Street in the historic Gold Rush town of Nome in roughly ten days. The deep winter darkness and whiteout conditions in Alaska have long been a source of frustration for mushers. However, the focus now is on making the four-legged athletes more visible at all times because to the recent dog deaths that occurred during training. For visibility, mushers usually wear bright headlamps, however lead dogs trotting roughly eighteen meters in front of the sled are not protected by this.

 

“It’s just not going to happen that snowmachiners behave responsibly,” stated Dutch Johnson, the manager of the August Foundation kennel, which places retired racing sled dogs in new homes. “But I can help make dogs more visible.” On a team owned by five-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey, two dogs perished and seven were injured in November on a remote Alaskan roadway that served as a winter training path. Dogs are at greater risk because of its increased popularity among snowmobilers, bicyclists, and other users in recent times. The snowmobile collided with the team’s lead dogs at approximately 105 kph while traveling in the opposite direction, according to Seavey’s social media post.

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