ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The death of a competition sled dog in last month’s Yukon Quest race was due to pneumonia contracted by inhaling stomach contents, according to a race veterinarian.

The 5-year-old male dog on Misha Wiljes’ team died Feb. 11 from aspiration pneumonia “caused by inhaling vomited stomach contents,” KTUU reported Monday.

The dog named Joker died on the trail about 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) after a checkpoint, but was in “good body condition” and had no health defects, according to Yukon Quest head veterinarian Cristina Hansen.

Hansen had said in a preliminary report that Joker’s cause of death was aspiration from a fluid or foreign body being inhaled into the lungs. The final determination came after a more thorough evaluation.

An investigation is still underway into the death of a sled dog from pneumonia in this year’s Iditarod. A final report on the death of the 5-year-old female named Oshi is expected in the coming weeks, officials said.

The animal rights group PETA has claimed that “the Iditarod forced her to run until she choked to death on her own vomit, just like so many dogs before her.”


Information from: KTUU-TV,