Necropsy shows Iditarod dog died of neck injury

Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2002

NOME, Alaska (AP) -- The dog that died in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race suffered a spinal injury in its neck when it got tangled up in the gangline, according to race officials.

Race Marshal Mark Nordman said that's the preliminary finding from a necropsy on the 5-year-old male named Goro. The dog belonged to musher Jim Oehlschlaeger of Cincinnati.

It's the only dog death so far in the race this year.

The dog died Sunday night as Oehlschlaeger and his team were approaching Ruby about 500 miles from Nome.

Oehlschlaeger had missed a turn on the trail and was turning his team around. Nordman said Goro got ahead of a pair of dogs in front of him and got tangled up when the team was being straightened out.

''Unfortunately, it's one of the thing we've come to expect with the race,'' said Brian Sodergren, issues specialist in companion animals for the Humane Society of the United States.

As set up, the race is inhumane, Sodergren said. Dogs in past years have died because both dogs and humans are pushed too hard and too far. The rules are set up to maintain the entertainment value of the race, Sodergren said, and further reforms are needed.

Nordman said he has found nothing to prohibit Oehlschlaeger from continuing to Nome. Mushers are thrown out if there are signs of cruel, inhumane or abusive treatment to the dogs.

Race supporters say the death rates are much lower for the canine athletes than for the pet population as a whole.

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