Sunday, April 29, 2007

Update on Ramy Brooks Abuse Allegation

As you may recall from my post "Don't Hit The Dog, Dammit" back in March, the Iditarod Trail Committee has been investigating allegations that musher Ramy Brooks abused his dogs while trying to leave the village of Golovin during the race. This prompted me to mount a white feather on my sled as a reminder to mind my own temper and always do the right thing by my dogs.

The Iditarod committee contracted with a legal group to investigate the allegations and had hoped to have it done by this weekend's board meeting. Unfortunately, the lawyers learned that trying to investigate an incident from 400 miles away, by telephone, isn't the most effective way to do things (duh!!). They are apparently in the process of traveling to Golovin to interview witnesses in person.

Meanwhile, a lot of folks are watching the case very closely and opinions and rumors are flying freely. Adding fuel to the fire of speculation, some of Mr. Brooks friends and relatives stood before the race board, asking for leniency for Mr. Brooks. That seems a bit premature, since we really don't yet know whether the allegations are true.

The AP story linked above stated that "Shane Goosen of Wasilla, who has run the Iditarod three times, said race officials should have moved more quickly. Goosen said he was disqualified from the Open North American Championships in Fairbanks for violating a passing rule. Somehow his name got linked to dog abuse when the Brooks story broke, he said.

"It took three days to disqualify this guy," he said. "There went the credibility of the Iditarod right there - it's gone."

Goosen told the board that during the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race in January five people said they saw Brooks kick, hit his dogs and drag them.

"There is no doubt in my mind that he beat his dogs," he said.

I have my own opinion at the moment, which I am happy to share with any who wish to listen. At this point the only thing that we 'outsiders' can honestly say we know is that three people in Golovin have made an allegation that is currently being investigated. We don't actually know what happened. Until the Iditarod board knows what really occurred it is way too early to be passing judgment.

IF it turns out that Brooks did indeed beat and kick his dogs, then he deserves to face the same sanctions that any other musher would face in similar circumstances. On the other hand, if it turns out that the allegations are false or can not be substantiated, then I think there are a LOT of people who owe Mr. Brooks a heartfelt apology.


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