By MITCH SEAVEY
I rarely respond publicly to PETA and their allegations about me and my kennel. I figure if I live on the top floor, why worry about rats in the sewer? But this may be the right time. If the Iditarod Trail Committee is serious about dealing with them, then I have a tale to tell.
Last spring a so called “expose’” about us and another sled dog kennel was released by PETA. The part about us is almost entirely lies and distortions. A rerun of the same garbage came out again recently.
It was an article about this person’s experiences as a handler at these kennels under the authorship of “Guest Columnist.” Really? Not even the cojones to sign his name to his “work.” Well, I know who he is, and I know where he is. Though he probably didn’t actually write this article himself, he did whore himself out to PETA. He’s a liar, and his boss, PETA is dishonest. He lives out of country now, but until about a year ago, at age 37, his address was the same as his parents, here in the U.S. Let’s be charitable, shall we, and just call him “Spy-Ex.” (That’s short for “Spy-Expletive.”)
Spy-Ex responded to a job advertisement here last winter, pretending he wanted to learn to mush dogs. He got an acceptable review from the other kennel, so we took him on. (Of course, it turns out he had defrauded them too.) I even asked him about any affiliation with animal extremists or objections to the sport of mushing. Nope, he just wanted to learn to run dogs and maybe race someday.
We rented living accommodations for Spy-Ex in town, paid him a salary and taught him to run dogs. We spent hours with him and made him a part of the team. All the while, he was stabbing my crew, my family, and me in the back.
He was sneaking around our kennel with a hidden miniature video-recording device on his person and reporting back to PeTA the whole time, for three solid months. He mushed with us, attended races with us, was in our company meetings, in our off-the-record-bull-sessions. He stayed with us at our host house in Nome after the Iditarod and, like a trusted team member, was included for my bone-weary, barely coherent recollections and storytelling at the end of the 2019 Iditarod race.
Well, what did his investigation reveal? Here’s what he got that’s true:
1) Some Seavey dogs used plastic barrel dog houses at the racing kennel.
2) One dog had a collar rub, another a small cut on a foot.
3) Race dogs lose weight on the Iditarod.
This PeTA snake was in our kennel recording for three months. Secretly spying on us. And he came up with a collar rub and a sore foot. That’s like a triathlete with a blister and a scraped knee. And, like a triathlete, dogs are hungry after their big race.
Ok. “Sorry.” I guess? After all of their accusations over the years, this is actually a vindication.
Oh, they claim a bunch of other stuff; outright lies or tales so grossly exaggerated as to be unrecognizable from the vantage point of truth.
Here’s one example: They say my dog Pilot returned home during the 2019 race with the same hind leg injury he had last year and was then just tied up and neglected. Baloney. He was returned from the Rohn checkpoint on the race with a muscle cramp in his shoulder. By the time he was released to our people, the cramp was undetectable. Nevertheless, my man at the kennel instituted a normal protocol of liniment massages, essential oils, cold laser therapy and nights indoors. That didn’t stop Spy-Ex from reporting to the world that my dog Pilot was injured, neglected, abused, no care, blah, blah, blah.
Pilot also free-ran daily, and was in and out of the breeding pen, attending to business there. The shoulder cramp has never returned, and Pilot has been completely healthy ever since. He is now large and in-charge, training for another Iditarod Race.
Barrel houses? We have used plastic dog houses at the racing kennel — ingeniously made from recycled plastic barrels – because they have many advantages. They’re the right size, waterproof and windproof, durable, easy to clean, disease free, low maintenance, and safe for the dog because they can’t chew them up, and the bedding straw stays in them. Google “10 best outdoor dog houses.” They are all made out of plastic, and none offer half the durability and function of these barrel houses. Mushers, there’s nothing wrong with a plastic barrel doghouse except in the coldest climates — a handful of nutjobs chaining themselves to barrels at Chrysler headquarters in Detroit, notwithstanding.
Of course, PETA doesn’t portray them as ingenious dog houses made of recycled materials. No, just barrels. They deceptively compose their photos to hide the attached food pail and the door with straw inside. Just “Chained to a barrel!” they say.
I seriously wonder why anyone even cares what this extremist group has to say. 90% of the people I know think they are bat sh*t crazy. Still, like bad TV, people keep watching more episodes and talking about it. We could all do the animal community a favor and change the channel.
I think a lot of PETA people want to appear to care about animals a lot more than they actually do care about animals. In all of my interactions with them they are not caring people. They don’t have a nurturing spirit. They are angry and bitter, and their message is one of hate toward animal owners, and not much about love toward animals.
We recently replaced the barrel houses at the race kennel with wooden houses, for purely aesthetic reasons. The product review from the dogs? “Meh, whatever.” It cost about $20,000. Hey, since PETA is so concerned about my dog houses maybe they have grants — matching funds or something …. Yeah, probably not. (Btw, our tour kennel in Seward is completely tether free with barn-style group housing.)
This is not the first time my kennel has been infiltrated by a spy. There have been at least two others that I know of. So friends, please be wary of rumors from anyone claiming to be a “handler” or to have firsthand knowledge of a sled dog kennel. These “plants” have an agenda and often create the reported unacceptable situations themselves. “Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.”
If you naively think PETA actually cares about animals, bless your heart. They don’t. Maybe some of their members and donors do care. Shoot, if their accounts were true, and they were actually helping animals, I might even donate. But it isn’t true. And they don’t help animals. Their true mission is to raise money, over $60 million annually. Please Google it, friends. We’re not in the dark ages and it’s our responsibility to be informed. They aren’t an animal rescue organization. By some accounts, I rehomed more dogs in 2016 than PETA did. That would be seven.
This corporate espionage tactic is being widely used by PETA and they make no bones about it. They must think people are stupid. But people surely realize an organization which gains access by lying, will not then report truthfully.
I admit, I have been naïve. I take people at their word until they show they can’t be trusted. It has cost me, dearly at times, but I’m happy being open minded and trusting. The personal price of being bitter and cynical is greater than the loss of one’s possessions, and even one’s reputation. But there are limits, and lines have been crossed.
These spies have tell-tale signs, in retrospect. They aren’t really interested in being a musher after all. They talk a lot about dog care but don’t really care about doing it. They quiz you about things that aren’t really relevant or any of their business. They want to catch you in a contradiction or trip you up with your words. (Of course, you might be on video camera.) As a kennel owner you find yourself wondering “Why is this person even here?” Then it will be their section of the yard that suffers for dog care, either through their indifference, or as they attempt to create a situation to “report” to PETA.
Spy-Ex is a big ol’ boy, and because he was a complete novice and not particularly gifted athletically, I would only let him run a very small team of dogs. He kept asking for more dogs and I kept saying no, for safety reasons. I now revel in the thought of him jogging behind that sled, huffing and puffing up the hill we call “Everest” every day, with just 4 dogs, while the other trainers and teams waited for him. Ah, the glamour and intrigue of international espionage. Spy-Ex, your parents must be proud.
Mitch Seavey is a dog musher from Sterling, Alaska, who won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in 2004, 2013 and 2017. At age 57, Seavey was the oldest person to win the Iditarod (2017).