A pro sled dog musher who admitted hitting his dogs during this year’s Iditarod race in March has been banned from the race for two years.
The Iditarod’s board of directors on May 18 voted unanimously to issue the punishment after allegations surfaced that musher Remy Brooks – a two-time previous runner-up in the race – beat his dogs while competing in the 2007 race.
After it rendered its decision, the Iditarod Trail Committee Board of Directors released an official statement, which read in part:
“It is always disappointing and regrettable that any action on or off the trail might result in any discomfort or pain to any dog. We must, and we will continue to strive to ensure the safety and well being of every Iditarod canine athlete.”
Brooks denied witness accounts that he beat the dogs, but he did admit to “spanking” them after they stopped and laid down about 100 miles from the 1,100-mile race’s finish line. After the incident, he was immediately disqualified from the race.
In addition to being banned from the race in 2008 and 2009, if he decides to return for the 2010 race or subsequent races, he’ll be on probation for three years.
Although one of Brooks’ sled dogs died during the race from undetermined causes, a veterinarian said he found no bruises on any of the other sled dogs.
An attorney for Brooks said it was unlikely that he would oppose the board’s decision.