Trained in extreme conditions.
Forced to perform in a 'sporting' endeavor against good judgment and without fair and considerate treatment.
Blood and injuries common.
A death rate that is astounding when extrapolated in comparison to other sports.
After this Michael Vick fiasco, one would assume that anyone engaging dogs in 'sports' that lead to death, abusive conditions and down right unnatural cruelty would be under the close scrutiny of the Federal Government.
But are they?
After fighting dogs, one would be hard pressed to find a more viciously malevolent canine centric 'sport' than sled racing. Particularly, the famed Alaskan sled marathon, the Iditarod.
The death rate of about 2.9 per 1000 is staggering when thought about. Imagine if the NY or Boston marathons exhibited similar death rates with their tens of thousands of runners! Body bags would litter the course.
But for dogs on the frozen tundra, running for the glory of their heroic 'musher' is part of the 'culture'.
Predominantly white trainers routinely force their dogs past the point of comfort. Using various drugs to chase the pain from the weakened canine bodies, and forcing the animals to face temperatures which are threatening to the heartiest of beasts.
How can this be?
How can participants in one cruel and vicious 'dog sport' be sent off to jail and demonized, while others do fantastic and unimaginable damage to their dogs and are glorified and given endorsement money? How are the organizer able to raise millions of dollars in sponsor money while the sledders beat and damage the dogs through grueling and inhumane conditions?
A half dozen or so men recently were indicted by the Federal Government for dog fighting and dog abuse charges in rural Virginia. Men of backwoods, Negro decent.
While this group of men was forced to play judicial games of prosecutorial uncertainty in an effort to ensure that they would all fear for their futures and say anything the government wanted, another group annually gets together to compete for prize money and sponsorships. This group is predominantly white.
We certainly would never profess the presence of any racial bias in the perception and handling of these events.
Clearly, when white folks want to play with their dogs in the snow, it's wholesome good fun.
And, according to this lady, it's a boon for veterinary research:
"This is the pinnacle of (canine) science," Mallie King says. "In 1996, he won the 'Golden Stethoscope' award for being the best trail vet. These dogs love to do this. Doesn't your dog go in the back yard and chase squirrels? This is how God provided for people who lived in the Arctic. These dogs are not dying from abuse. God didn't mean for dogs to outlive us."
Can you imagine the outcry's if Michael Vick had said during his apology, "Hey, dogs like to play fight, they have a natural instinct to fight and defend. I was just feeding that fire and letting them live the way God originally intended. I found Jesus. And he don't want dogs outliving me."
But, when 'respected' white folks say things like that while they are standing out in the snow while a maniac with what is essentially a whip is forcing dogs tethered to a 400 lb sled to run as fast as they can in sub zero temperatures on frozen snow; we call it a traditional sport.
Law enforcement and the media suggest that one of the reasons they have made such a huge story and case out of Michael Vick is to help get the word out on animal cruelty and some of the underground inhumane events that are being perpetrated out there. They want people to be aware that if they are using and treating animals in ghastly and despicable ways, that they risk incarceration.
We can get behind that.
Now, we suggest that law enforcement - instead of burning tax payer dollars on the resources it takes to conduct these underground investigations - look right in the open.
If you want to make an impact on the treatment of animals, arrest the next musher that causes the death of a dog he is 'racing'.
Shutting down the Iditarod would say more for the government's seriousness on animal rights than incarcerating Michael Vick ever could.
But then again, all that snow on the ground makes Alaska a pretty white state.