The IPSSSDR veterinary team members were individually selected for their experience, knowledge and devotion to our sport. They are members of the International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association, a group dedicated to the promotion, care and research of racing sled dogs. Caroline and Denny hold four Iditarod "Golden Stethoscope" awards - the Iditarod Official Finishers award the "Golden Stethoscope" to the trail veterinarian whom they feel has gone above and beyond the call of duty. The IPSSSDR vet team has been extensively involved in many research projects devoted to the care of racing sled dogs and other working breeds.
Caroline Griffitts, DVM (Chief Veterinarian)
Dr. Griffitts received her veterinary degree from Cornell University in 1988 before tackling an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Michigan State University. After several years of full-time practice as an associate, she has owned a mobile house call practice based out of Loveland, Colo., since 1997. This gives her more flexibility to allow time for other interests such as sled dogs. Caroline has been a trail veterinarian on many races, including the Iditarod, the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, the IPSSSDR, local sprint races in Colorado, and the Yukon Quest. She has been involved with the IPSSSDR since its inception. During her leisure time she enjoys traveling, especially to Nepal. Dr. Griffitts is president of the International Sled Dog Veterinary Medical Association. She received the Golden Stethoscope award in the 1999 Iditarod and the 2000 Iditarod.
Denny Albert, DVM
Denny Albert lives at Denali National Park in Alaska. She graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in 1986. Her education continued with an internship at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, MA and a post-doctoral program at Harvard Medical School. Presently, small animal clinical relief work supports her trail vet addiction. Denny leaves the clinic setting to volunteer on sled dog races each winter including numerous Iditarods and IPSSSDR's. Over the years she has worked on many other distance and mid-distance races in the lower 48 and recently the Fur Rondy World Championship Sprint Races.
In 1997 and 2009, Denny was chosen by the Iditarod Finishers' Club to receive the Golden Stethoscope Award. She served as chief veterinarian for the Centennial Running of the All Alaska Sweepstakes Race along with other races through the years in Alaska, Minnesota and South America. Denny spreads out her interests in veterinary medicine to include clinical support in sled dog research studies and participates in biannual wolf surveys in the National Park.
Lanier (Lannie) Hamilton
Lanier (Lannie) Hamilton finished veterinary school at Washington State University in 1991. She worked as an associate and subsequently owned a practice for her first four years of life as a vet in Lander, Wyo. The world called, however, and she eventually sold her practice and adopted a career as a relief vet to expand her horizons and see other parts of the country. She did a fellowship at Oregon State University in Large Animal Medicine and Surgery in 1998-1999. Currently she splits her time between Wyoming and Alaska. Pursuing her interest in athletic animals, she accompanied 11 dog teams by snow machine across Alaska on the 2000 Serum Run. In 2001 and 2002 she worked as an Iditarod veterinarian and helped out on the Denali 300 Sled Dog Race in 2002. She is excited to help with the IPSSSDR, covering parts of her home turf, combining her love of the outdoors and animal athletes.
Rhonda Aliah, DVM
Rhonda Aliah graduated from Michigan State University in 1976. She has worked on the Iditarod for 5 years, the American Dog Derby in Ashton, ID for the past 10 years and helped with the pre race exams for the IPSSSDR for 6 years. In 2011 Rhonda becomes the fourth official member of the IPSSSDR veterinary team. With three grown children, Rhonda has lived in Idaho Falls, ID for the past 30 years. Rhonda started practice as a mixed animal practitioner and is now a small animal/zoo veterinarian. She has been the veterinarian for the Tautphaus Park Zoo in Idaho Falls since 1990. Rhonda loves to cycle and swim and has competed in several triathlons completing 3 full Ironman races. “Recently retired from my practice, I look forward to more zoo time, competitions and travel,” says Rhonda.