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  • Dr. Kate Foster and her team at the pre-race vet check in Whitehorse (Photo by Crystal Schick)
    Dr. Kate Foster and her team at the pre-race vet check in Whitehorse (Photo by Crystal Schick)

The vet check for the 2023 Yukon Quest got underway this morning in Whitehorse, YT. Mushers arrived and unloaded their dog teams, one by one, to undergo examinations by our dedicated team of trail veterinarians.

Dr. Kate Foster, a veterinarian from Valdez, Alaska, is leading the vet team this year — this is her sixth Quest and she’s thrilled to be back on the trail providing excellent dog care alongside her colleagues. “It’s been eight years since I’ve been here in the Yukon so I’m excited to see old friends again,” says Dr. Kate.

She’s joined by a team of experienced trail vets, including Dr. Markus Barth, a small animal surgeon from Cochrane, AB. This is Markus’ eleventh year on the Quest trail. Dr. Jill Grogan, a small practitioner formerly from Fairbanks, Alaska, now working in Virginia, has travelled all the way up to take part in the Quest. Dr. Nira Hernandez hails all the way from the Canary Islands, Spain. She’s provided vet care at sled dog races in Europe and Norway, and has a background musculoskeletal injuries. Anna Jordan, a vet technician, and one of Dr. Kate’s assistants in Valdez, is also lending her expertise along the trail this year.

All dogs are weighed and given a physical examination to determine health and body condition. “We give the dogs a body condition score,” explains Dr. Kate. “They’re athletes so they don’t score like a house dog. House dogs are usually kind of overweight. The athletes tend to score thinner, but it’s because they’re all muscle.”

The vets check the dogs’ paws, muscles, and flexibility to ensure they have normal range of motion. They listen to the dogs’ lungs and heartbeat, check their teeth, and ensure dogs have up-to-date vaccinations.

“We just want to make sure they’re in tip-top shape,” says Dr. Kate.

Mushers and their dog teams will head out on the Quest trail on Saturday, February 11th, departing from Shipyard’s Park in Whitehorse, at 11 AM.

Dr. Kate and her team will be traveling up to Dawson City, YT, to provide continued support and care to these inspiring athletes at stationed check-points and time stations.

Many thanks to everyone who volunteered and helped out at today’s vet check, and to our sponsors, Northerm Windows, who hosted the check in Whitehorse!