The Yukon Quest has experienced its first fatality in two years.
General, a dog belonging to musher Jake Berkowitz of Big Lake, Alaska, has died, Quest marshal Doug Grilliot announced Thursday.
The dog expired during transport from Dawson to Whitehorse under the care of a veterinarian.
A necropsy was performed and a cause of death determined, according to a Friday media release.
“The necropsy revealed the definitive cause of death was a condition called intestinal volvulus with bowel infarction,” said Dr. Kathleen McGill, the Quest’s head veterinarian. “Blood and tissue samples will be sent to the lab for further analysis. Results are expected from those tests in four to six weeks.”
Berkowitz is currently in third place, behind frontrunners Hugh Neff and Allen Moore. He left the Dawson City checkpoint at 12:10 p.m. on Thursday, about five and a half hours before the Quest’s announcement of the death of his dog.
The death of General is the first in the Quest since 2011, a year that saw two dogs die.
Neff and fellow Alaskan Brent Sass each had a dog die that year. Neff withdrew from the race following the death of his animal. Sass is currently in fourth place in this year’s race.
The previous year, Fairbanks’ Terry Williams had a dog die in the Quest. William subsequently scratched from the race.
The worst Quest for deaths in recent years was in 2007 when three dogs perished.