Dog team up for adoption at Fairbanks animal shelter

Posted: Friday, December 20, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A team of sled dogs with all-star bloodlines is up for adoption at the Fairbanks North Star Borough animal shelter.

The huskies were used for tours and the owner was no longer able to care for them for personal reasons, said shelter manager Laura Hood added. She declined to release the owner's name for fear that it would discourage people from putting animals up for adoption.

''We'll hold them as long as we can,'' Hood said. ''We'll try to hold them as long as there's interest in them, for sure.''

The owner brought 14 dogs to the shelter. Two older dogs were euthanized. The rest are tethered to posts in the dog yard behind the shelter and tenders there say they are in good health.

''We were surprised at how good they looked,'' said animal tender Mariska Miller. ''They're in excellent shape. Some of them are a little bit more friendly than others.''

The dogs have bloodlines that can be traced to animals owned by mushers George Attla, Joe Runyan, Bill Cotter and Roxy Wright, among others. Attla and Wright are champion sprint racers. Runyan has won both the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race and Cotter is an Iditarod racer.

The sled dogs are 4 to 7 years old and weigh 50 to 60 pounds each.

''They are best placed in a sled dog situation. That's what they are going to be happiest at,'' Hood said. ''Someone who is looking to put them in a long-distance team this year, they're not in that great of shape.''

E-mails have been sent to members of the Alaska Dog Mushers Association and to others in hopes of finding homes for the dogs.

''There are a lot of success stories out there with people taking pound puppies and making them into winning teams,'' ADMA Vice President Mike Malvick said. ''They're in their peak years right now. If they've been handled well, they know what to do. They'll be more businesslike.''

Malvick said adopting the team would be a good, low-cost way to get into dog mushing or skijoring or to expand a small kennel.

Good sled dogs with comparable bloodlines can cost $500 each when bought on the market. The shelter adoption fee is about $100 per animal.

Malvick said it's unusual for a musher to bring a whole team to the shelter. Mushers generally appeal to their peers to adopt the dogs, Malvick said.

''A few times a year, there's somebody working on giving up their team,'' he said. ''Usually it's being forced by a change in family situation or personal health reasons or something like that.''

The owner of this dog team was visibly shaken after leaving his dogs at the shelter, animal tender Carol Talbott said. She said she can tell the dogs are experienced sled dogs. ''They are very used to being handled.''

Normal animal shelter adoption procedures apply, so the huskies would have to be spayed or neutered. They can be adopted singly or as a team.

The adoption fee pays for spaying and neutering and for rabies shots. The huskies did not arrive at the shelter with shot records, so rabies shots are required.

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