I’m disappointed that the Auburn Public Library was promoting the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (story, “Auburn Public Library to celebrate Iditarod,” Jan. 20). More than 150 dogs have died as a result of this grueling race, which runs approximately 1,000 miles from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. The dogs are subjected to biting winds, blinding snowstorms and freezing temperatures.

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Humane Mushing, around 1,000 dogs start the race but up to half don’t finish. Many become sick, injured or exhausted from being forced to run for hours over jagged mountain ranges, across frozen rivers and through thick forests. Their feet end up bruised, bloodied and raw from the extensive terrain they have to cover. They often pull muscles or suffer from diarrhea, stomach ulcers, stress fractures or aspiration pneumonia — which is often caused by inhaling vomit and is the leading cause of death among dogs who die in the race. It killed a dog named Oshi in last year’s race.

Countless dogs die during the off season, too, chained to wooden boxes or plastic barrels in the bitter cold, while others are violently killed just because they lack the speed and stamina to make the cut.

Dogs deserve better than isolation, cruelty, suffering and death in the Iditarod. I would expect a library to teach people that cruelty to animals is immoral, not celebrate it.

Melanie Johnson, Waterboro

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