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Campaigners have called for a lifetime ban for Yukon Quest musher Hugh Neff after an autopsy on one of his dogs revealed a host of grim health conditions.
According to a statement by Yukon Quest: “Head Veterinarian Cristina (Nina) Hansen, DVM, PhD states that the final necropsy report indicates Boppy died of aspiration pneumonia caused by inhaling vomited stomach contents. Other findings include mild stomach ulcers, moderate intestinal inflammation, mild whipworm infestation, skeletal muscle necrosis, and severe weight loss and muscle wasting.”
Now officials for Yukon Quest – a 1,600-mile international sled dog race – have banned former champion Neff from next year’s race, citing animal welfare issues. But animal campaigners want to see the ban extended.
PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman, said: “This poor dog’s intestines were inflamed, his skeletal muscle cells were dying, and his muscles were wasting away, yet Hugh Neff forced him to pull a sled until he inhaled his own vomit and died of pneumonia.
“This should earn Neff a lifetime ban from the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod – which allowed him to compete just a month later and drop seven suffering dogs along the way – and all other races.
“Until the Iditarod releases the veterinary records of all of the dogs dropped from the race, we can only assume the worst – that many were close to experiencing a horrible death just like this one.”
Kathleen McGill, Chair of the Race’s Rules Committee, McGill described the decision to censure a musher ‘a first’ for the Yukon Quest.
Putting the decision down to animal welfare issues, she said: “When the autopsy report came back, we felt that there were enough issues in there that we needed to take action.
“We feel in this day and age of social media, we owe it to our fans, our sponsors, our volunteers, the other mushers, the mushing community, that if we feel there’s something that needs attention, we need to respond to it – we need to speak for the dogs.”
“We want to be more proactive, if you will, than reactive.”