two iditarod dogs die
Facebook, Ididn'trod 200 Invitational Sled Dog Race

Tragedy Strikes Iditarod as 2 Dogs Collapse and Die During the Race

These mark the first Iditarod deaths since 2019.

Two Iditarod sled dogs collapsed and died Sunday during the race, marking the first reported Iditarod dog deaths since 2019.

The first death occurred on rookie Isaac Teaford's team. Teaford runs with Dallas Seavey's kennel, which has been plagued by setbacks and tragedy this year. The kennel lost two dogs after a snowmobiler hit a team in November. Early on in this Iditarod, Seavey had an ugly run-in with a moose that resulted in a seriously injured dog and a 2-hour penalty for him.

According to a statement from the Iditarod Trail Committee, around 9:46 AM on Sunday, a 2-year-old dog named Bog on Teaford's team collapsed 200 feet outside the Nulato checkpoint. Iditarod checkers and an Iditarod veterinarian approached the team and administered CPR for 20 minutes, but Bog did not survive. Nulato is 582 miles into the race.

Just fifteen minutes later, a 4-year-old dog named George collapsed 35 miles outside Kaltag, roughly 660 miles into the race. George was a part of Hunter Keefe's team. Keefe was racing his second Iditarod and was a part of Raymie Redington's kennel. In an interview at the ceremonial start, Keefe said that George, part of a litter named after the Beatles, had a lot of energy and liked to bark nonstop. Attempts to revive George were unsuccessful.

Both Teaford and Keefe have dropped from the Iditarod. Under race rules, if a dog dies, the musher must voluntarily scratch from the race, or they will be withdrawn unless the death was the result of an "unpreventable hazard" like a moose attack. Necropsies will be performed on both Bog and George to determine the cause of death.

The trail is starting to take a toll on other teams as well. While there are usually several scratches early in the race, the first team didn't withdraw until Friday. As of Monday morning, five teams have scratched, including 3 rookie teams and 2 veteran teams. Many of them cited the reason for scratching as being "in the best interest" of their teams.

The health of the dogs is the number one priority of the Iditarod and its mushers. Dogs are extensively examined before the start of the race, and veterinarians are on hand at each checkpoint to examine dogs during the race. Mushers are able to give tired or injured dogs rides in their sleds to checkpoints, and dogs can be dropped from the race at checkpoints and flown back home or to animal hospitals if needed. Teaford had previously dropped two dogs with minor injuries before Bog's death. Keefe had also previously dropped two dogs.

Before Bog and George's tragic passings, the last dog death in the Iditarod happened when Richie Beattie's dog, Oshi, died two days after crossing the finish line in Nome. Oshi led Beattie's team for most of the race and passed all of the veterinarian checks. Then, just miles from the finish, Oshi began looking tired. Beattie immediately unhooked Oshi from the harness and put him in his sled bag for a ride to the finish. At the post-race vet check, Oshi exhibited signs of pneumonia and was flown to an animal hospital in Anchorage, where he passed away. Beattie was withdrawn from the race.

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