Misha Wiljes and her team prepare to leave the start line at the beginning of the Yukon Quest on Feb. 2 in Whitehorse. The Quest confirmed Wiljes’ dog Joker died of aspiration penumonia on Feb. 11 outside Circle, Alaska, in a press release on March 25. (Seth Adams/YQ2019)

Final necropsy report confirms dog died of aspiration pneumonia during the 2019 Yukon Quest

Joker, a five-year-old dog on Misha Wiljes’ team, died just outside Central, Alaska

The Yukon Quest announced on March 25 that the final necropsy report on Joker, Misha Wiljes’ dog that died during this year’s race, confirmed that the dog died from aspiration pneumonia caused by inhaling vomited stomach contents.

In the release, Dr. Cristina Hansen, head veterinarian for the Quest, said the final necropsy report performed by Dr. Greta Krafsur confirmed that Joker “was in good body condition.”

Joker, a five-year-old male, died on Feb. 11 approximately three miles (five kilometres) before the Central checkpoint. Wiljes brought Joker into the checkpoint in her sled.

Krafsur performed a preliminary necropsy in Central, Alaska, on Feb. 12, which showed the cause of death as aspiration and that Joker had “no signs of neglect or abuse.”

Wiljes, from Willow, Alaska, continued her race, ultimately finishing in 26th position at 6:14 p.m. on Feb. 14 with nine dogs on the line.

Wiljes was racing the Quest for the third time — she previously finished 12th in 2012 and scratched in 2013.

This is the fourth year in a row that a dog has died during the 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometre) race.

Hugh Neff’s dog Boppy died before his team reached Dawson City during the 2018 race.

In 2017, Yuka Honda’s dog Firefly died, and in 2016, Sebastien Dos Santos Borges’ dog Polar died during the race.

Data on sled dog deaths during long-distance races is relatively limited, but a 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association examined necropsy findings from 23 sled dogs that died in the Iditarod sled dog race between 1994 and 2006.

The study found that six of those dogs died after inhaling vomit and a further three died later from aspiration pneumonia caused by inhaling vomit.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

Yukon Quest

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read