An official necropsy showed that Dorado, a five-year old Iditarod sled dog, died of asphyxiation after being buried in the snow during severe winds, The Washington Post reported on Saturday, March 16. Dorado was a member of rookie musher Paige Drobny’s team.
Dorado had been dropped from the Iditarod race on Monday to be cared for in an area set up for dogs dropped from the race. Paige Drobny continued on to Nome, and placed in 34th place on Thursday. Race officials declined to talk in detail about the incident involving Dorado’s death. An official statement regarding Dorado’s death was released:
“Dorado and all other dropped dogs were last checked at 3 a.m. on Friday morning. Between that time and daylight, drifting snow covered several dogs and Dorado was found to be deceased. The entire Iditarod family is mourning this loss. We ask that you support Paige and her family during this difficult time.”
It is not uncommon for mushers to leave dogs at race checkpoints and continue along the Iditarod race trail. Dogs are left behind at checkpoints if they are sick, injured, or tired and unable to keep up with the team. Sled dogs are placed in dog lots and cared for until they flown to Anchorage for pickup. Race official Mark Nordman said that the weather delayed efforts to fly dropped dogs to Anchorage.
Cody Strathe, Paige Drobny’s husband, in an email to The Associated Press said that he and his wife were waiting to find out more information.
“We are awaiting results of the official necropsy as we do not know what occurred, but are deeply saddened.”
Dorado was described as a “shy but happy dog” that competed in the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race in 2012. Dorado’s death is the first sled dog death since 2009.
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