The first 50 mushers who enter the 2021 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and the first 50 who enter the 2022 race will receive up to $500 in reimbursements to help cover veterinary costs, the race announced Thursday.
The money is part of the Pike Dog Wellness First Initiative, a $50,000 program made possible by a donation from longtime race supporter David Pike.
The program will allocate $25,000 to each year’s race.
The first 50 mushers who sign up in each year will be eligible to receive up to $500 in reimbursements for diagnostics, vaccines, deworming and other services provided by a licensed veterinarian or a licensed vet technician.
According to a statement, the partnership between Pike and the Iditarod was formed in anticipation of “the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic may have on Iditarod mushing kennels due to lost revenue from tourism declines and other economic hardships.”
Pike, who owns a home in Girdwood, is the managing owner of a law firm based in Shepherdsville, Kentucky.
No date has been announced for the first day of signups for the 2021 race, although it typically happens in late June.