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Jamaican dogsled team seeks Iditarod title, Snausages

Mar 8, 2010, 10:45 AM EDT

If you’re following the Iditarod, and I’m sure you are, then you know that Newton Marshall is currently in 23rd place as the event enters its third day. That’s significant because Marshall is the musher for the Jamaican dogsled team, which sounds totally made up by I assure you it’s real. Inspired by the Jamaican bobsled team and, it’s my guess, lots and lots of ganja, Mr. Marshall gathered up several mutts from dog shelters on his native island and formed them into a crack dogsled team. He and the pooches have now not only inspired their tiny island, but also singer Jimmy Buffet, who is helping to fund the effort. But as always, the ever-fussy specter of PETA looms.
Video following the jump.

Marshall, 27, was a tour guide in Jamaica when one of his clients saw a dog sled on wheels during a trip to Canada in 2005, and got the idea to train some dogs to pull it with Marshall as the musher. Marshall initially trained with mutts from the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but now runs with leased sled dogs from three-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey’s kennel (due to local laws, dogs that leave Jamaica cannot come back into the country).
Last winter, Marshall became the first Jamaican to finish the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest, coming in 13th out of a field of 29. This has made him somewhat of a hero in Jamaica.

“I thought from the beginning it was just very cool what he was doing,” Buffett said. “I thought it was so far out there, but it made people smile when they heard about it.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is not impressed, however; noting that six dogs died during last year’s Iditarod. From the PETA Files:

The Iditarod is a grueling 1,150 miles. That’s roughly the same as the distance between New York City and St. Petersburg, Florida — and the fastest teams are forced to cover all that ground in less than two weeks. Dogs often run more than 100 miles a day — the equivalent of four marathons back to back — with little rest. (The official race rules require that dogs only be given a total of 40 hours’ rest during the entire race, which can add up to less than 3 or 4 hours a day.)

We’re not talking about a jog through Central Park, here. Dogs in the Iditarod have to battle blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, and falls through treacherous ice into frigid water. Their feet become bruised, bloodied, cut by ice and rocks, and just plain worn out because of the vast distances they cover. Many dogs pull muscles, tendons, and ligaments, rupture discs, incur stress fractures, and become sick with bloody diarrhea, dehydration, intestinal viruses, or the aforementioned bleeding stomach ulcers. Dogs have been strangled by tow lines, trampled by moose, and hit by snowmobiles and sleds. Two of the six dogs who died in last year’s race are believed to have frozen to death.

Jamaican pride: Marshall’s trek to Alaska serves as inspiration [USA Today]
Get ready to start the Iditarod death count [The Peta Files]

  1. JoseOle - Mar 8, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    Thanks for that little nibblet PETA. Now I’m going to go eat my lunch of KFC and Mink Fur.
    /Nobody Cares

  2. Elaine Plumb - Mar 8, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    I am thankful to PETA for looking out for animal rights, but we should pick our battles. And there are much bigger battles than this one I live in Texas and I see at least 6 dead animals on the road everyday.

  3. Kit Walther - Mar 8, 2010 at 5:58 PM

    GO MON!!!!!

  4. Betty SB - Mar 8, 2010 at 6:17 PM

    I know your article sounds humourous but try to get your facts right!
    First of all, Newton would be mortified at the idea that he smokes ganga. Ganga smoking is NOT as popular in Jamaica as some foreigners like to think and certainly not with athletes! Newton worked for several years at one of Jamaica’s top Tours, Chukka Caribbean Adventures. The CEO of Chukka got the idea of Island sledding and adopted shelter dogs for this. The dogs are extremely well cared for before you comment in that direction. Chukka then decided to go in for traditional dog sled racing & brought in Jimmy Buffet as a sponsor. Newton and his colleague, Damion Robb, have been training and taking part in sled races for roughly five years now.
    I am shocked that a reputably organisation like NBC would denigrate an entire nation just for humour.
    A copy of this email has been sent to Mr Danny Melville, CEO of Chukka Adventures.

  5. Leon - Mar 8, 2010 at 10:55 PM

    I agree with you Betty, I know the Melvilles’ and am very confident that they would NEVER subject any of the many animals under their care to in-humane and cruel activities.
    Furthermore, I am extremely surprised and thoroughly disappointed that an entity such as NBC would affix their name and reputation to an article submitted by a seemingly ignorant and narrow minded individual such as Rick Chandler.
    If his reference to “ganja” is meant as a joke, then it is in very poor taste and both himself and his editor should be severely reprimanded and made to offer a public apology to the entire Jamaican population with an immediate retraction of the entire article.
    As a matter of fact i would expect the Jamaican Tourist Board to immediately respond to this slanderous and dubious allegation against Mr Murray. Likewise i expect and will urge our Minister of Sports & Culture, The Honourable Babsy Grange and all of our local athletic governing bodies to take a strong stand against such libelous statements, especially in an era where drug use in sports is such a volatile issue.
    There should be an immediate cancellation of ALL Jamaica Tourist Board ads placed with NBC and their affiliates.
    PETA’s issues are not without grounds and i applaud their efforts to protect the lives of those which we utilize for sport and entertainment.
    I too will fwd same to Mr Melville for his substantive influence to right this wrong.
    Just for the record, we the Jamaican people applaud the efforts of Mr Murray and support his (Mr Melville and Mr Buffet’s) efforts to fly our flag high.
    As for you Mr Chandler, may i suggest that you channel your mediocre mind to supporting the efforts of ground-breaking sport history (and maybe leave a legacy as such) instead of displaying your overwhelming ignorance for public ridicule.

  6. Mary Jane - Mar 9, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    It’s just some weed. So the author likes to sit around and smoke out with his dogs, so he imagined what it’d be like if he was from Jamaica. Give him a break and some chips – you know he’s got the munchies.

  7. me - Mar 9, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    Since when did out of bounds become a serious news outlet? This entire comments section is a big joke. Before you get mad at the author I have to ask why you are even here reading?

  8. david leonard - Mar 9, 2010 at 9:48 PM

    PETA–is a joke– where are they when they are aborting 4000 babies every day—tiny humans that are defenseless—where are the protests for this?

  9. ddt - Mar 9, 2010 at 10:04 PM

    David, you are exactly on target!

  10. Mickey - Mar 9, 2010 at 11:54 PM

    What the hrll does abortion have to do with dog sleding or P.E.T.A. Go roll a fat dooby and eat a baby burger. Lighten up for god sake

  11. JayS - Mar 10, 2010 at 1:07 AM

    I’ve been a dog handler at the Iditarod–love the dogs and love the sport. Nothing about that PETA report is untrue. It’s an extremely difficult run for all involved. Humane treatment of the dogs should always be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

  12. JayS - Mar 10, 2010 at 1:11 AM

    Not really under their charter. Try again.