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Dirty job aims to keep Iditarod race clean

 Vets take urine samples of Iditarod dogs.
Vets take urine samples of Iditarod dogs. (KTUU)
Published: Mar. 16, 2020 at 3:48 PM AKDT
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Of the hundreds of dogs strategically chosen to run in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race each year, some will be randomly selected for urine tests.

Texas-based veterinarian Mack Boyd is on the team with the occasionally dirty-job that intends to make sure the race stays clean.

"I think it's important to the race. It's important to race officials and everyone concerned that there's some professionalism about this. This process is very important to the integrity of the race, and it's important to the mushers that is be done with professionalism. They certainly deserve that," Boyd said.

Dog teams are randomly selected and the urine collection team chooses three dogs from those teams to collect urine samples from.

"Some of the dogs are very easy to collect and others are not so easy. And there are some that we just plainly cannot get a sample out of, so we'll choose another if that's necessary. But so far we've been getting at least three samples from all the teams that we approach," Boyd said.

Boyd uses device he made out of an aluminum rod to collect urine samples without having to get too close to the dogs.

"It makes it a little simpler to catch and not get into their space," Boyd said. "I think the testing program itself lends a lot to just the integrity of the race and assuring that everybody is as it should be and that there are no illicit substances in any of the dogs. And I think that's just the integrity of the whole process."