The Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC) announced Saturday that one of Richie Beattie’s dogs died after being flown to Anchorage for care.

Video of Beattie’s 10:01 p.m. arrival at the burled arch Thursday shows the rookie musher removing a dog from his sled. As the dog staggers, Beattie reconnects her to the towline.

An ITC spokesperson confirmed the dog carried to the finish line inside the sled is 5-year-old Oshi, the dog transported to Anchorage.

"Sadly, Oshi passed away the following day," ITC officials wrote in a news release Saturday, which listed a preliminary diagnosis of aspiration pneumonia.

With a race time of 11 days, 7 hours, 1 minute and 31 seconds, Beattie was the fastest rookie on the trail this year, securing the Iditarod Rookie of the Year award.

But according to the ITC, Beattie has now been withdrawn from the race per rule 42 of the official race rules. The committee says he "is fully cooperating with Iditarod officials."  

During a post-race interview, Beattie discussed his experience on the trail. As KTVA attempted to ask him about Oshi, Iditarod race marshal Mark Nordman called him away.

Beattie: “That was something else.”

Nordman: “Alright.”

Reporter: “You had a dog, um, in the sled…”

Nordman: “Here we go. So you’re… you want to move ‘em out?”

Reporter: “Is your dog in the sled OK?”

Beattie: “Yeah, yeah. She’s just tired.”

Attempts to reach Beattie by phone and email were unsuccessful Sunday.

Wildthingz Dog Mushing — Beattie's kennel — addressed the incident in a Facebook post on March 16:

"It's with incredible sadness and heavy hearts we have to share we lost our sweet Oshi this evening.
A few hours from the finish, Richie noticed something was off about Oshi and immediately carried her in the sled to the finish.
After the finish, the vets noticed symptoms that resulted in aspiration pneumonia, an illness that can happen very suddenly with little to no symptoms before it can have devastating or fatal effects.
She battled it for 3 days, was flown to the Anchorage pet ER where she received aggressive treatment, but unfortunately she lost her battle and passed on.
When we participate in these events, we always take into heavy consideration the risks, but never think that a tragedy like this could happen to us personally.
As anyone who followed the race could see, Richie took the utmost care, precaution and rest to be sure the dogs well being and health was his primary focus and goal.
We have no one to blame but the unfortunate and unpredictable forces that are beyond our control.
Per Iditarod rules, Richie has been withdrawn from the 2019 race and will not hold the title of Rookie of the Year.
We welcome any questions you may have but please give us time to grieve the loss of our amazing girl. We are incredibly devastated and are in the process of trying to get our dogs home safely back to Fairbanks.
Thank you to all that have supported us and we hope you continue to do so despite this tragedy.
Thank you to the Iditarod vet staff and staff at Pet ER for trying their hardest to save our little girl.
Rest in peace, sweet Oshi. Mom and Dad are so heartbroken over the loss of you."

 

According to 2019 Iditarod rule 41 all dogs are “under the jurisdiction of the Race Marshal from the time they enter the staging area at the start until 72 hours after they have been released by ITC veterinarians or 48 hours after the final musher finishes.”

When asked why Beattie might have removed Oshi from the sled and reconnected her to the towline, an ITC spokesperson said it was a mutual decision made by the musher and the race marshal.

They also pointed to rule 17, which states, in part:

“Upon arrival at a checkpoint and as part of the check-in procedure, mushers must announce to the checker the total number of dogs in their team including dogs on the towline, inside their sled bag and any dogs carried within an enclosure not readily visible. A checker, race official or race veterinarian may request that mushers visibly produce all dogs for verification before the check is complete."

It is not uncommon for a musher to transport a dog in the sled. Multiple other mushers say the reason for doing so is either because there could be something medically wrong with the dog, or they want to give the dog extra rest. 

KTVA has requested information regarding when Oshi was last checked by a vet before reaching Nome and is waiting to hear back. 

The Saturday release from ITC states a necropsy will be conducted to determine the official cause of death.

At the mushers banquet in Nome on Sunday, the Rookie of the Year award was given to Ed Hopkins, who came in just after Beattie. Hopkins accepted the award, but said he would be giving the $2,000 in prize money to Beattie, which earned a standing ovation from those in attendance.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a Facebook post from Beattie's kennel regarding the death of Oshi.

Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved. 

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