Dog dies at Koyuk checkpoint

A dog has died at a checkpoint along the Iditarod trail.

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The sled-dog belonged to Kotzebue musher Katherine Keith, and was being treated by veterinarians for signs of pneumonia, according to a release from the Iditarod.

The five-year-old male died just after midnight today at the Koyuk checkpoint, roughly 20 hours after Keith dropped him and continued on with her eight remaining dogs. Typically, when a dog is dropped over health concerns they are quickly brought to air hubs like Unalakleet and McGrath before traveling back to Anchorage. But bad weather in Koyuk and along the Bering Sea Coast has made air travel inconsistent the last several days.

This is the first dog death of the year’s Iditarod, and takes place against mounting pressure from animal rights groups over the dogs’ welfare in the long-distance race.