ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Iditarod has punished three mushers for taking their dogs inside shelter cabins during fierce storms at the tail end of this year's race.
Mushers Mille Porsild of Denmark and Michelle Phillips of Canada were demoted in standings, and Riley Dyche of Fairbanks was fined for riding out the storm with their dogs.
The decision to punish the mushers was made by race marshal Mark Nordman, who said the indoor rest for the dogs amounted to a competitive advantage over teams that trailed them into Nome.
“No doubt that Michelle and Mille did the right thing for their dogs,” Nordman said per the Associated Press. “But it also affected the competition for racers going forward.”
According to the AP, Porsild dropped from 14th to 17th position, Phillips slipped to 18th, and although he didn't fall in the standings, Dyche was fined $1,000.
The mushers defended their decision to shelter the dogs in the harsh conditions.
“Stopping and having the dogs in the shelter cabin gave Michelle and I no competition edge; on the contrary, we both lost the edge we had — especially me and my team,” Porsild wrote to Denmark's Daily News, the AP reported.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the punishment for saving dogs makes it clear the race must end.