Lost dog found, but musher withdrawn from race

Beth Bragg

Whitehorse musher Gerry Willomitzer was reunited with his lost dog Sunday, but neither of them are in the race to Nome anymore.

Race officials withdrew Willomitzer from the race late Sunday night. At the time, they reported that the dog, Montego, was found, and Willomitzer had resumed racing.

But Willomitzer was taken out of the race by officials, who decided Willomitzer had fallen too far behind due to the search for the missing dog.

Montego got loose Saturday somewhere between Iditarod and Shageluk. The dog was found Sunday by someone who took him to Iditarod. Willomitzer, however, was in Shageluk.

According to an Iditarod press release, "When Gerry received word that Montego had been found, Gerry thought the Iditarod sweeps had the dog and were continuing to his location, only to find out Montego was in Iditarod. By this time, Gerry had fallen too far behind to return to Iditarod to retrieve Montego and continue in the race in a competitive nature."

Race marshal Mark Nordman withdrew Willomitzer at 10:20 p.m. Sunday.

Willomitzer is a four-time Iditarod finisher and a four-time Yukon Quest finisher who has won multiple awards for dog care, including the vet's choice award in the 2005 Quest.

Willomitzer is the sixth musher whose race ended before Nome. One of the others, Newton Marshall, scratched after one of his dogs got loose Friday between Rohn and Nikolai. That dog, Mae, has been spotted several times near Rohn but hasn't been caught.

Reach Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or 257-4335.