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Photos: 2015 Iditarod veterinarian checks

Veterinarian checks are an annual ritual for every four-legged athlete in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

With 78 teams signed up for the 43rd Iditarod, over 1,200 dogs must be checked this year before they are cleared to mush in the 1,000-mile race.

At the Iditarod headquarters in Knik on Wednesday, scores of volunteer veterinarians from around the world descended on team after team, checking for problems that could keep them from racing.

The Iditarod takes the health of its canine athletes seriously. At each checkpoint dogs are checked by vets; if any are injured,t they can be left behind by the musher, and the vets will care for them and make sure they get back to Anchorage safely.