After Iditarod sled dog collapses and dies, musher scratches

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Sunday recorded its first 2024 dog death.

Around 9:46 a.m. Sunday, a 2-year-old dog named Bog running on rookie Isaac Teaford’s team collapsed about 200 feet outside the checkpoint of Nulato, around 582 miles into the race, the Iditarod Trail Committee said in a statement. Bog was one of 13 dogs in harness at the time of their arrival at Nulato.

“Iditarod checkers and one Iditarod veterinarian approached the team and CPR was administered for 20 minutes, but Bog unfortunately did not survive,” the committee said.

Race officials said that a pathologist will conduct a necropsy “to make every attempt to determine the cause of death,” the statement said.

On Sunday evening, the Iditarod Trail Committee said that Teaford scratched at 2:25 p.m., with 12 dogs in harness, “pursuant to Rule 42.”

Under the Iditarod’s Rule 42, any dog death that occurs during the race will result in either an immediate voluntary scratch by the musher, or a withdrawal of the musher by race officials. An exception is allowed in cases where the Iditarod race marshal — currently, Warren Palfrey — determines that the dog died due to an “unpreventable hazard,” such as the “inherent risks of wilderness travel (example, moose encounter), nature of trail, or force beyond the control of the musher,” according to the rule.

Teaford is a first-year Iditarod musher who grew up around Salt Lake City and mushes out of Talkeetna. He was running a team of sled dogs from the kennel of five-time champion Dallas Seavey, who is also competing in this year’s race. One of the dogs on Seavey’s team was injured earlier this week when a moose attacked them; that dog, named Faloo, was flown to Anchorage for treatment and is recovering from emergency surgery, according to his kennel.


The Iditarod’s rule regarding dog deaths and musher eligibility was added ahead of the 2019 race after a lengthy debate by its governing board. Some members at the time expressed concern, saying that mushers shouldn’t be held responsible for some dog deaths that can’t be prevented, while others believed the Iditarod should take a hard stand against any dogs dying on the trail at all.

During the 2019 Iditarod, rookie musher Richie Beattie was withdrawn after he’d finished the race following the death of a dog on his team. Iditarod veterinarians had examined his team after he reached Nome and sent Oshi, a 5-year-old female, to Anchorage for further evaluation and care after exhibiting signs of pneumonia. The dog died two days after Beattie’s team reached Nome, and findings from a necropsy performed on the animal were consistent with pneumonia being the cause of death, according to Iditarod officials. Beattie said at the time that he’d thought the dog was simply tired.

That appears to be the most recent death of a sled dog participating in the Iditarod. Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has long called for the Iditarod to be dismantled over concerns about the welfare of sled dogs running a nearly thousand-mile race in often brutal conditions.

PETA on Sunday reiterated its demand that the Iditarod to be brought to an end, in addition to calling for Teaford’s removal from the race. The group had earlier called for Seavey to be removed from this year’s Iditarod over how he handled his sled dog’s injury after the moose encounter.

Aside from Teaford, two other rookie mushers scratched from this year’s Iditarod on Sunday, after a week without a single scratch.

Erin Altemus of Grand Marais, Minnesota, was the first musher to scratch from this year’s race overall. She made the decision at the checkpoint of Ruby at 9:38 a.m. Sunday “in the best interest of her team,” the Iditarod Trail Committee said. All 10 dogs she arrived with were in good health, race officials said. She was in last position at the time of her scratch.

Later, at the Galena checkpoint, Connor McMahon of Carcross, Yukon Territory, scratched at 4:30 p.m. “in the best interest of his team,” according to race officials. The Iditarod Trail Committee said he had 11 dogs in harness at the time, and all were in good health.