Many veterinarians volunteer every year to lend their services to Alaska’s annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. One such volunteer, Lynel Tocci, DVM of Lauderdale Veterinary Specialists, was on duty at the Nualto checkpoint when dogs were brought in for treatment. It was 2 a.m. on Saturday. It was also Dr. Tocci’s first year as an Iditarod veterinary volunteer.
The dogs, belonging to two of the race’s top competitors, were struck by Arnold Demoski, a 26-year-old who had been out drinking. He crashed into the sled dogs at “speeds up to 100 mph,” SunSentinel reports. One dog was killed. The other two, which were brought to Tocci, needed her help. One had been unconscious and was now in shock. The other was suffering from a leg fracture and will receive surgery this week. Tocci gave the dogs fluids and hydromorphone.
Demoski has since apologized and has been charged with “assault, reckless endangerment and reckless driving,” according to SunSentinel.
A devastating incident, but one that could have been a lot worse had it not been for Tocci. As she told SunSentinel, “it’s fortunate the Iditarod makes sure qualified veterinarians staff the grueling 1,049-mile race from Anchorage to Nome.”