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Sled dog dies running the Yukon Quest

  • Author: Tegan Hanlon
  • Updated: February 12
  • Published February 12

A dog running the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race died late Monday, according to a statement from the race.

Misha Wiljes (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

The 5-year-old male named Joker was from the team of Willow musher Misha Wiljes, the statement said. Joker died about 3 miles outside Central, a race checkpoint roughly 140 miles from the finish line in Fairbanks.

“Wiljes carried Joker into the Central checkpoint in her sled,” the statement said.

A preliminary necropsy showed Joker died from aspiration, caused by inhaling vomit, according to the Quest.

“Joker was in good body condition and there were no signs of neglect or abuse,” said a statement from the race.

It was the first dog death of the 2019 Quest, which started Feb. 2 in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Wiljes, born and raised in Prague, Czech Republic, has started the Quest twice before, scratching in 2013 and placing 17th in 2012. She also competed in the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race the past two years.

Eureka musher Brent Sass won the 2019 Quest on Monday afternoon. About 20 mushers and their teams remained on the trail by Tuesday evening, including Wiljes.

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