Ryan Redington shares a special bond with the dogs on his sled team. The Alaska native regularly races with his dogs in northern Wisconsin. Luckily, most mushers and snowmobilers in the area know how to be respectful and keep a distance from groups of dogs. But one incident shook Redington in a way he never imagined.
While Redington was training with Sarah Keefer and her sled dogs, a reckless snowmobiler got in the way. The person sped up and turned away from their path to hit Redington’s canine companions. Redington and Keefer believe that the incident was on purpose. One of the pups was in critical condition, so dog lovers rallied to save him.
Redington says that his dogs love racing. They always perk up when they get to go out in the snow with their dad. Redington takes extra precautions to keep them safe, such as attaching lights to their harnesses at night. So, he believes the only way someone could hit them is if they were drunk or intentionally doing it.
First, the reckless snowmobiler sped toward Redington and hit his dogs without stopping. Then, they flew past Keefer, who was not far behind. Luckily, none of Keefer’s dogs were hurt, but several of Redington’s were.
“All the other snowmobiles I had been encountering were slow,” Keefer said. “This guy came straight down the middle of the trail at a high speed and only veered off away from the team at the last second before hitting the dogs.”
Most of the dogs had minor wounds that the vet could care for right away. But a dog named Wildfire had a leg broken in three places. He had flown into the air when he’d been hit, so he needed intense surgery.
Will He Run Again?
Redington is hopeful that Wildfire will get to race again one day if he’s up for it. Being a part of the team is a great way for the dogs to get their energy out and bond with their human. But Wildfire has lots of healing to do before he can get back out there. Vets needed to repair his left tibia using a metal plate and 11 screws.
The costs for medical care will be about $9,000. So, Keefer made a GoFundMe page to help Redington cover all the costs. Dog lovers went above and beyond to make sure the goal was reached. They ended up raising over $36,000 to support the dogs! Redington is grateful that his furry family members will all be okay in the long run.
“These guys are super athletes, but they’re my family,” Redington said. “I spend every day with them and it’s heartbreaking to see what they’ve had to go through. It’s very, very sad and it shouldn’t happen.”
Redington filed a police report, but there are no suspects at the moment. He knows the chances of them finding the person responsible are unlikely, but he wants to do everything he can to ensure that no more dogs get hurt.