PERFORMING ANIMALS: Iditarod race critic John Suter has poodle skeletons in closet

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1993:

Reporter Doug O’Hara of the mag-
azine We Alaskans revealed October 17 that
Iditarod sled dog race critic John Suter, of
Chugiak, Alaska, is “the man who drove
poodles in the trans-Alaska race until the
practice was effectively banned as inhumane
two years ago.” Suter has mailed more than
2,000 letters to animal rights groups since,
alleging cruelty by trainers and breeders,
including dicing cull puppies to feed adult
dogs. His letters have been used as source
material by numerous national organizations
in organizing opposition to the Iditarod.

Before the Iditarod was restricted
to “northern breeds,” O’Hara wrote, Suter
“garnered the sort of attention usually given
an Iditarod champion––an invitation to the
Johnny Carson show, for instance. But dur-
ing the races, Suter’s experiment with poo-
dles constantly ran into problems. In 1989
one of his dogs froze to the ice on the
McGrath runway. In 1990 another poodle
had to be dipped in a hot tub in McGrath
after becoming hypothermic. In 1991 one of
Suter’s poodles died in a blizzard outside
Suter admits being “highly pissed
off” over the poodle ban, but says revenge is
not his goal.
The Anchorage-to-Nome race
recently lost TV sponsors ABC-TV,
Chrysler-Dodge, and Alascom telecommu-
nications, but picked up Tesoro Alaska, an
oil distributor. A new race-related scandal
erupted October 1, however, as 1983
Iditarod and frequent Yukon 200 competitor
Norman MacAlpine, 29, was charged with
leaving 20 dogs to starve for five days in
mid-September. Four died before the situa-
tion was discovered. “I fed the heck out of
them before I left,” MacAlpine said. “They
just got sick and up and croaked.”
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