Whitehorse Daily Star

Third dog dies on Yukon Quest trail

A third dog has died on the trail of the 2007 Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.

By Whitehorse Star on February 22, 2007

A third dog has died on the trail of the 2007 Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.

Race officials announced Thursday that Hope, a six-year-old female, on veteran musher Kelley Griffin's team had died on the trail between the final checkpoint in Chena Hot Springs and downtown Fairbanks.

Chena is approximately 159 kilometres from the finish line.

Griffin had travelled approximately 2 1/2 hours beyond the checkpoint when her dog dropped, said race officials.

Griffin put the dead dog in her sled basket and continued to the Pleasant Valley Store in Two Rivers, Alaska, where race officials were contacted to be notified about the dog.

The animal was pronounced dead and a necropsy was performed by Quest veterinary pathologist Patty Pesavento.

'The specific cause of death is not apparent upon preliminary examination,' Pesavento said from Fairbanks this morning.

'There are two possible factors that may have contributed to Hope's death. She had stomach ulcers and had aspirated some of her stomach contents.

'Aspiration of the stomach contents is the most likely cause of death; however, tissue samples collected will be further examined to rule out cariogenic or neurogenic causes,' continued Pesavento.

Final results of the tissue sample analysis will take up to three weeks to be returned from laboratory examination.

Griffin continued the race yesterday, crossing the Fairbanks finish line in 14th position at 7:22 p.m.

Two other dogs have died on the 1,600-km trail this year.

Rookie Yuka Honda lost a dog on Feb. 11 after losing her team and under the speed and stress, one of the dogs choked on its own vomit and died.

Honda continued on in the race, but later scratched a the halfway checkpoint in Dawson City.

Rookie Brent Sass brought a dead dog into the dog drop at Slaven's Cabin on the Yukon River. The dog had swallowed a piece of fabric, possibly part of its harness, causing the perforation of its intestine, resulting in its death.

The last deaths for the Quest happened in 2002, when two dogs died on the trail.

Bill Pinkham's dog expired after it was caught in a tangle coming down Eagle Summit.

Christopher Knott had a dog die in what was described as an 'instant death' when the animal dropped on the way into Pelly Crossing.

'Any dog death is a tragedy,' said Stephen Reynolds, executive director of the Yukon Quest's Canadian office.

'The Yukon Quest is a family of mushers, dogs and veterinarians. It's a loss of a family member.'

Griffin left Chena's eight-hour layover at 1:50 a.m.Thursday. In dealing with the incident and caring for the rest of her dogs, it took her 11 hours and 50 minutes to reach the North Pole dog drop 106 km away.

She made the final 53-km trip into Fairbanks in five hours and 42 minutes, arriving at the finish line with six dogs at 7:22 p.m. Thursday.

See more Quest coverage, p. 11.

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