Letter: Stop the suffering
Joe Farrell wrote that Krabloonik gets a bad rap and claimed that Krabloonik is “a source of education for a noble piece of history” (“Krabloonik gets a bad rap,” Jan. 1, The Aspen Times). The actual history of sled dogs is brutal, bloody and not noble for the animals or the humans who abused them.
Arctic people needed dogs to survive the harsh environment, but they did not consider them to be animals — they were treated as equipment. They were not fed or sheltered, and if they did not obey they were brutally punished. When the European fur traders arrived, they used dogs to pull sleds, and they were even more violent toward the dogs (see http://www.tworiversak.com). I couldn’t even read the whole article — dogs beaten that badly probably couldn’t survive, so maybe the beating was to give an example to the other dogs to terrify them. The Europeans seemed to think that dogs who wouldn’t pull were being stubborn, but maybe they were too tired, starved or injured to get up.
Sled dogs were essential to polar expeditions. Roald Amundsen started his trek to the South Pole with 86 dogs who were run to death or shot and eaten along the way. In an article in National Geographic, Amundsen admitted to how badly he treated the dogs (nationalgeographic.com).
The serum run to save Nome was the inspiration for the Iditarod race. The original run was a relay, so no dog ran the thousand miles that they must run in the Iditarod. Dogs died in the relay, but they delivered life-saving medicine. In the early days of the Iditarod, hundreds of dogs died, and many more suffered serious injury. So in honor of the hero dogs who saved Nome, modern sled dogs are killed or injured in a sporting event .
There are models of dog breeding and training such as the Monks of New Skete that use trust and mutual respect to raise and train working dogs. The monks breed German shepherds for many demanding jobs, and yet they do not need to use fear or beating. The Krabloonik dogs are pulling sleds, not working in military or law enforcement, not pulling a wheelchair or leading the blind. How can the mushers believe that sled dogs must be trained by being beaten?
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The pictures of Krabloonik dogs look more like the fundraising ads for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or the yards where fighting pit bulls are chained to huts. When those dogs are found, they are immediately rescued, but Krabloonik dogs are still suffering while the legal process crawls along. How long will the Aspen and Snowmass community look away instead of coming to the rescue? Is help on the way?
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Kudos to Laurine Lasselle for her well-written, well-researched article interpreting the data from the 2020 census (“2020 census data highlights relationship among resort communities, downvalley locales,” Aspen Journalism).