Leon the Sled Dog Found Safe After Going Missing for 3 Months From an Iditarod Race Checkpoint

Leon the sled dog found 3 months after going missing from Iditarod.

Three-year-old husky Leon went missing on March 13 while competing in the Iditarod with his owner.

Three months after going missing from an Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race checkpoint in Alaska, a sled dog has been found and reunited with his owner on June 4 after covering nearly 150 miles.

Three-year-old husky Leon went missing on March 13 while competing in the Iditarod with his owner, Sébastien Dos Santos Borges, according to the Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC). In a Facebook post, the Iditarod explained Leon escaped out of a checkpoint in Ruby.

On March 21, the Iditarod expanded its efforts to find Leon by producing fliers with a photo and description of Leon and emphasizing his shyness. The race also offered a $1,000 reward for any information about Leon that would aid in his safe return home.

fundraiser called "Operation Find Leon" was set up by members of an Iditarod Fan Facebook page to help fund these search measures. It raised $8,500 of its $5,000 goal.

According to ITC, residents of McGrath, Alaska, which is approximately 120 miles south of the checkpoint according to the Associated Press, reported seeing Leon near a cabin to the race's director, Mark Nordman, in May. In the hopes of containing Leon, the resident of the homestead/cabin and another dog musher who lives in McGrath had been leaving food out for him.

On the morning of June 4, a local community member in McGrath was able to catch Leon safely. He was  “understandably skinny but seemingly healthy,” Iditarod spokesperson Shannon Markley told the Associated Press. Leon was expected to see a veterinarian in the coming days and needs a health certificate before he can fly back home to France, Markley added.

Borges reunited with Leon, which he shared on a Facebook post, “Leon is with me! A great story, a beautiful story of love and friendship between all the people who helped, who thought very hard about this reunion. Thank you! Life is gooooood!”

The Iditarod shared their appreciation for the work and dedication of the community to help find Leon: "The Iditarod cannot express enough gratitude for all of Iditarod Nation's help, prayers, thoughts, and well wishes for Leon. From the volunteers to the search fund organizers and the individual donors, community members along the trail, and the heroes of McGrath who have helped towards the cause of finding Leon," adding, "Alaska is an incredibly special place as is the spirit of the community, which is part of what makes The Last Great Race so special. Thank you, Iditarod Nation, and welcome home, Leon!"


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