Fort Lauderdale vet treats dogs struck by drunken snowmobile driver in Iditarod

1 dog dies in accident, at least 2 more injured


PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – A Fort Lauderdale veterinarian saved several dogs over the weekend in Alaska after a drunken snowmobile driver struck two mushing teams during the Iditarod race.

Lynel Tocci, of Lauderdale Veterinary Specialists, volunteered for the Alaska race and was stationed at a checkpoint in Nulato Saturday when dogs belonging to Iditarod champion Jeff King were brought in for treatment at about 2 a.m.

The dogs were struck by a snowmobile operated by Arnold Demoski, 26, who was traveling at speeds up to 100 mph, according to ABC News. Demoski also hit Iditarod champion Aliy Zirkle’s team while traveling at about 40 mph.

One of the dogs, named Nash, was killed in the accident.

Demoski is said to have intentionally struck the animals, according to a ABC News report.

One of the injured dogs Tocci treated was in in shock after having been unconscious, and another got a fracture to its right forelimb during the incident, according to a media release. 

The injured dogs were airlifted to Nulato where they received further treatment, and are said to be recovering.  

"I am very sad about the incident, but I am very happy the Iditarod makes sure there are veterinarians, like me, to make sure in the event a dog is injured, they are given treatment as quickly as possible," Tocci said in a statement. 

Demoski was arrested by Alaskan State Troopers and has admitted to driving drunk.

His bail was set at $50,000 after being charged with second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and six counts of fifth-degree criminal mischief. 

"We're very proud of Dr. Tocci and her commitment to helping these dogs each year," said Ira Zaslow, founder of Lauderdale Veterinary Specialists in a statement. "We hope the rest of the race goes without any additional injuries and we look forward to giving Dr. Tocci a warm welcome home when she gets back."