The dogs that helped change history


A Siberian husky named Balto led a team of sled dogs carrying life-saving serum.

It was early in 1925 when there was an epidemic of diphtheria in the town of Nome, Alaska.

Diphtheria is a contagious disease that is transmitted by coughing, sneezing or open wounds of an infected person.

During the winter months, it took a team of drivers and sled dogs four weeks to get the serum to the community.

The only access to the city was via a path used to carry mail.

“Balto was the dog that led the team when the serum was successfully delivered to the grateful citizens of Nome,” the Cleveland Museum of Natural History said.

“Balto and his teammates became instant heroes across the United States.”

In 1925, Balto and his crew starred in a film based on the historic medical race.

The time spent in the spotlight has sparked a row over the ownership of the dogs. This resulted in the animals being moved to a “dime” museum in Los Angeles.

Cleveland businessman George Kimble was against the move.

He made a deal with the owner to buy the dogs for US$2,000. That would be around $47,000 in today’s money.

The problem is that he only had two weeks to find the funds. Appeals for donations were launched on American radio.

It only took 10 days to raise the funds.

Balto and six team members were greeted as heroes when they arrived in Cleveland in March 1927.

The dogs were taken to Brookside Zoo (now Cleveland Metroparks Zoo) to live their lives with dignity.

Around 15,000 people are said to have visited the dogs on their first day at the zoo.

Balto died on March 14, 1933, at the age of 14.


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