Alaska Airlines drops sponsorship of Iditarod sled dog race

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska Airlines confirmed Monday it will drop its sponsorship of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Alaska’s most famous sporting event.

The Seattle-based airline, which got its start in Alaska decades ago, said in a statement that the decision to end sponsorship after this year’s race was made as the company transitions to a new corporate giving strategy.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the most vocal critic of the thousand-mile (1,609-kilometre) sled dog race across Alaska, praised the decision.

“When dogs used in the Iditarod aren’t being forced to run until their paws bleed and their bodies break down, they’re chained alone in the bitter cold,” PETA Executive Vice-President Tracy Reiman said in a statement. “PETA and every kind person opposed to cruelty to dogs is flying high over Alaska Airlines’ decision to stop sponsoring the Iditarod.”

Iditarod CEO Rob Urbach did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

PETA has pressured race sponsors for years and taken credit for companies like Wells Fargo and Jack Daniels from dropping financial support of the race.

PETA officials have also said they met with airline representatives and conducted protests outside Alaska Airlines’ headquarters.

Alaska Airlines spokesman Tim Thompson said in an email that “PETA did not play a role in our decision.”

“We have been proud of our history and support of the Iditarod, especially travel for the veterinarians that are focused on the safety and health of the dog teams,” Thompson said.

Donors that give to the race are listed by the Iditarod on its webpage in four different tiers, based on how much they give.

The airline appeared three years ago on the Iditarod’s sponsorship page as a second tier donor, went to third tier in 2018 and was not listed last year or this year.

“We have been part of the Iditarod for more than 40 years and are proud of our sponsorship, which was focused on dog health and safety,” the Alaska Airlines statement said. “

The statement added that the airline’s new corporate giving strategy will have “an emphasis on creating opportunities for young people in the communities where we fly.”

Thompson said the Iditarod was told last year about the company’s decision and that it is continuing its sponsorship through the 2020 race, giving the race’s parent organization, the Iditarod Trail Committee, time to find new sponsors.

The Iditarod has its ceremonial start on Saturday in downtown Anchorage. The race starts Sunday about 50 miles (80 kilometres) north of Anchorage, with the winner expected to arrive about 10 days later in the old Gold Rush town of Nome, on the Bering Sea coast.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: First death confirmed in central zone, provincial cases reach 1,250

Alberta government confirmed a first death in the central zone Sunday. The… Continue reading

COVID-19 case reported at supermarket in Wetaskiwin

Sobeys will not release names to protect employees

WATCH: Red Deer emergency call centre hours change starting next week

Hours at the City of Red Deer’s COVID-19 emergency call centre will… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

Quebec Walmart worker struck by driver allegedly angered by COVID-19 measures

SHERBROOKE, Que. — A Walmart security guard from southern Quebec was fighting… Continue reading

Boeing to continue production shutdown due to coronavirus

Company is extending its planned two-week shutdown

Bars, cannabis sector eligible for $40B credit program from government bank

Applicants must go through their own banks to access the program

Actress-activist Shirley Douglas, daughter of medicare’s Tommy Douglas, dies

‘Sadly she had been battling for her health for quite some time’

Canada looking to disinfect used masks, Tam asks they not be thrown away

Best defence against COVID-19 is to stay home as much as possible, wash their hands frequently

With workers at home, feds eye ways to fast-track training program, groups say

How to help workers stuck at home or out of work to prevent their skills from becoming

Most Read