Alaska senator, race director, blast TSA's Iditarod decision
Updated 3:10 p.m. ET
Alaska's junior senator thinks it's a doggone shame that the Transportation Security Administration decided to withdraw a partnership deal with the annual Iditarod dog race. The folks who organize the race aren't happy, either.
As the Federal Eye reported yesterday, the agency canceled an $85,000 plan to recruit job seekers along the race trail after The Washington Post asked for a clarification of the arrangement.
Complaints by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals prompted the inquiry. The group complained this week to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that the agency shouldn't be sponsoring a race it considers "cruel" to race dogs.
In response to the decision Thursday morning, Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said it was "outrageous" that TSA would withdraw its support based on PETA's concerns.
"PETA's tales of abuse on the Iditarod Trail would be news to the scores of volunteer veterinarians whose monitoring of the sled dogs during the race make Iditarod dogs among the best cared for in the world," Begich wrote to TSA Administrator John Pistole.
"TSA does face recruitment challenges in Alaska," he said. "Since the Iditarod is closely followed by Alaskans along the 1,150-mile race and in every corner of our state throughout the month of March, it is a great opportunity to reach rural Alaskans about job opportunities at TSA."
Stan Hooley, the Iditarod's executive director, said PETA is as "at the very bottom in terms of credibility and integrity" among animal rights groups.
"We challenge anyone, with an open mind, to travel to Alaska, observe the race and then render an opinion as to what this incredible lifestyle and event are all about," Hooley said in an e-mail. "Until someone does so, the drivel really means nothing. The bottom line is this. We cannot change PETAs' mind about the true treatment of sled dogs in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, nor do we intend to attempt to do so. Our efforts remain focused on continuing to assure that all sled dogs involved in the Iditarod receive the absolute best in care and treatment."
PETA said Wednesday it was "howling with delight" over TSA's decision.
Begich, picking up on the quote, told Pistole on Thursday, "Your decision may have PETA 'howling with delight,' but Alaskans know you have headed down the wrong trail."
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This post has been updated since it was first published.
| February 17, 2011; 3:10 PM ET
Categories: Agencies and Departments, Congress
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