Long-time sponsor Wells Fargo drops Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

 A musher travels in the Kaltag area of the Iditarod trail. (Tracy Sabo / KTUU)
A musher travels in the Kaltag area of the Iditarod trail. (Tracy Sabo / KTUU) (KTUU)
Published: May. 24, 2017 at 3:10 PM AKDT
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Wells Fargo will not be a sponsor of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race next year.

The race has long been criticized by animal welfare activists such as People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA. The Iditarod Trail Committee blamed PETA for the bank's decision.

"There is no doubt that the decision announced earlier this week is directly related to the manipulative misinformation that PETA and others have been using to target our sponsors at their corporate headquarters outside of Alaska," Iditarod chief executive Stan Hooley said in a written statement.

PETA called the decision a victory.

"After five dogs taking part in the 2017 event died in less than a week, PETA met with Wells Fargo executives, who were shocked and horrified to learn about the egregious cruelty that occurs on and off the nearly 1,000-mile course," PETA wrote on its website. "Following those meetings, the company worked swiftly to end its association with the Iditarod."

Wells Fargo officials declined to be interviewed but released a written statement.

"Wells Fargo regularly reviews where we allocate our marketing resources to build and enhance relationships with customers and the broader community," wrote David Kennedy, regional communications officer for Wells Fargo. "As part of this process, we have decided not to sponsor the Iditarod in 2018."

ITC said it had a "very strong relationship" with Wells Fargo for many years, beginning in 1988 with the National Bank of Alaska under the leadership of the late Elmer Rasmuson.

Hooley said the tradition was continued from 1999 through 2017.