Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race officials are scratching their heads in response to claims made by Wasilla musher Shane Goosen who last Friday told the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race’s board of directors that five people saw Ramy Brooks kick and hit his dogs during the T-200 in January.
“It was the first I’ve heard of it,” said Todd Stone, T-200 board president.
Brooks is the Healy musher who was disqualified from this year’s Iditarod after confessing to “spanking” his dogs with a wooden trail marker. Brooks is still under investigation for dog abuse as claims have been made that he kicked, punched and hit his dogs with a ski pole outside of the village of Golovin on March 13.
Stone said he was shocked to not only learn of this newest accusation relative to the T-200 through the newspaper, but also to learn of it so long after the race has ended.
“I’m not really sure where Shane’s coming from on this. We have several avenues for people not just mushers to speak up if they see a problem and we never heard a thing. It’s a little disturbing actually to have our name drawn into this and smeared with these unfounded accusations,” he said.
Paul Gebhardt served as race marshal for this year’s race and would have been the primary person to field complaints. He echoed Stone’s sentiments.
“As far as I knew it was a clean race. I haven’t heard from any mushers, checkpoint volunteers, spectators or anybody, so to me it’s just a rumor,” he said.
Gebhardt said he questions why Goosen, if he did actually witness dog abuse during the T-200, presented this claim to the Iditarod board instead of the T-200 board.
“The (Iditarod) has nothing to do with this,” he said.
Gebhardt said that because it took so long for the allegations to surface, T-200 officials are unable to take action in the matter.
“T-200 rules state you have 24 hours to make a verbal or written complaint, but he never came to me or anyone else that I know of, so as much as I would like to know who these five guys are that supposedly saw this, there’s nothing we can do about it now, (three) months later,” he said.
Gebhardt said if Goosen really did witness dog abuse, he should have spoken up immediately.
“If Shane or anyone else did witness something and didn’t say anything about it, they’re the guilty ones. In my book, they’re just as guilty as the guy who did it,” he said.
Efforts to reach Goosen for comment Wednesday were not successful.
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