Colorado Dog Sled Operation At Center of Controversy Over Fate of Unwanted Sled Dogs

Krabloonik, a Colorado-based dog sled outfit, found itself in the middle of a public controversy in April after letters-to-the editor in local newspapers accused it of killing some of its dogs with a gunshot to the head and then disposing of the bodies of the dogs in a pile of waste.

In an op-ed published in the Aspen Daily news, Krabloonik owner Dan MacEachen admitted that the organization killed dogs that were either at the end of their working lives as well as pups who turned out to be incapable of pulling sleds. MacEachen maintain in his op-ed however, that the dogs were killed humanely and that the whole process was legal under Colorado’s animal welfare laws.

A former employee of Krabloonik’s claimed that the business killed up to 35 dogs annually in this manner, though MacEachen said the actual number is much lower.

A number of other dog sledding outfits contacted by the media said that while this method of killing used to be the norm, that it is no longer widespread within dog sledding outfits.

Four-time Iditarod winner Martin Buser told The Aspen Daily News, for example, that if he needs to euthanize a dog he calls in a veterinarian who administer’s a lethal injection. Buser maintained he had not had to euthanize a dog in several years.

Lynda Plattner, who runs a 300 dog sledding outfit in Alaska, has started up a nonprofit called Alaska’s Iditarod Sled Dog Retirement Foundation whose goal is to provide a retirement program specifically for Iditarod dogs. Plattner told Denver’s ABC 7,

There is no other animal in the world like them, and based on that fact alone, they deserve to continue to receive the best care possible long after their competitive days are over.

In response to an inquiry from ABC 7, the American Humane Society confirmed MacEachen’s interpretation that euthanizing dogs with a gunshot to the head was legal in Colorado, but AHA head Marie Belew Wheatley added that, “It is inconceivable to me that a business enterprise that profits off the work and loyalty of these dogs would fail to seek another more compassionate end for these animals.”

Given the heat dog sledding already receives from animal rights activists, you’d think dog sled outfits like MacEachen’s would not want to hand them an issue on a silver platter like this.


Krabloonik defends culling of pack. Chad Abraham, The Aspen Times, April 5, 2005.

Controversy over treatment of sled dogs. Chad Abraham, Vail Daily, April 9, 2005.

Humane Association Criticizes Shooting Dogs In Head. ABC 7, The Denver Channel, April 5, 2005.

Sled Dog Action Coalition/PETA Unsuccessfully Try to Stop Appearance by Dog Sled Racer

In September The Sled Dog Action Coalition and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals led an e-mail and letter campaign to convince a women’s empowerment workshop in New York to drop an appearance by dog sled race DeeDee Jonrowe. Jonrowe is best known for holding the fastest women’s time in the Iditarod.

Yvonne Kopy, director of the Wild Women Unite conference held in Pulaski, New York, told the Associated Press that she received about 30 e-mails a day — some as far away as Europe — asking her to cancel Jonrowe’s scheduled appearance. Kopy told the Associated Press,

I’ve fought many battles, but I didn’t expect this one. The U.K., Italy, France, Scotland. That they really care who comes to Pulaski, New York, I had to laugh.

In an e-mail to the Associated Press, Margery Glickman of the Sled Dog Action Coalition said,

The Iditarod is animal abuse. And animal abuse is not motivational for women.

Similarly, PETA’s Amy Rhodes told the Associated Press,

Driving dogs into the ground and literally working them to death is certainly not a true sport.

Organizers went ahead with Jonrowe’s appearance and she led a parade through Pulaski.


Protest targets dog sled racer. Associated Press, September 13, 2004.

Wild women unite in Pulaski. Edwin Acevedo, The Post-Standard (Syracuse, New York), September 18, 2004.

Sled Dog Action Coalition vs. Grade School Teacher

In February the Sled Dog Action Coalition — a group opposed to sled dog racing — sent a letter to a Portland, Oregon school in February complaining about a third and fourth-grade teacher’s curriculum which includes a section focusing on the Iditarod.

Cassandra Wilson teaches at Jesse Applegate Elementary School in Portland and was named Teacher on the Trail for 2003 by the Iditarod. The Teacher on the Trail is selected as a volunteer to spend 3 and a half weeks with the Jr. Iditarod. According to The Oregonian, Wilson “has used the Iditarod for several years to teach her students skills in math, writing, science and the creative arts.”

This angered the Sled Dog Action Coalition which maintains students are receiving a one-sided view of this “cruel” race. Margery Glickman of the Florida-based group told The Oregonian,

Here we have a teacher who is in the role of promoting the Iditarod. These lesson plans are not going to have what animal protection activists have to say.

Imagine that — a curriculum not driven by animal activists? Oh, the horrors.

Glickman continues,

All of this is not in the realm of what a good teacher should be. The teacher is a role model. A teacher who i a Teacher on the Trail is not fulfilling their obligations.

In fact, however, Wilson told The Oregonian that she did discuss with her students why some people and groups are opposed to the Iditarod, but

. . . Wilson said the enthusiasm she saw in her students outweighed the negative reaction she got from some groups.

“There’s way too much positive, way too much positive,” she said.


PETA, others say sled dog race is cruel. Abby Haight, The Oregonian, February 16, 2003.

Bayer Reverses Its Stance on Iditarod

After coming under pressure from animal rights activists, Bayer had announced that it would end its policy of donating veterinary pharmaceuticals for use on dogs during the Iditarod race.

Then Iditarod supporters kicked into high gear, especially in Alaska where more than a few newspaper columnists and others called for a boycott of Bayer for giving into the demands of animal rights activists.

Now, Bayer has reversed its original ban and announced that it will once again provide veterinary medications free of charge for use during the race.


Bayer Supports Animal Welfare at Iditarod Despite Squeals From Animal Rights Fanatics to Stop. National Animal Interest Alliance, Press Release, March 23, 2001.