Pet killed by sled dogs owned by Iditarod veteran reality TV star Jessie Holmes: ‘A truly terrible accident due to my negligence’

A pack of sled dogs owned by an Iditarod veteran and reality TV star killed a pet in Alaska, officials said. Wasilla authorities are investigating the March 30 incident involving dogs belonging to musher Jessie Holmes, who finished third for the year Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and stars in “Life Below Zero: Alaska” on the National Geographic Channel.

Holmes, who lives in rural Alaska, was staying with his team of dogs at a Wasilla hotel backing onto the adjacent owner’s yard. He let the dogs go for relief when they attacked a pet dog named Lucky, who was tied to a leash in the yard.

Iditarod-Pack kills a pet
Jessie Holmes takes a break to prepare a meal for her dogs to cuddle with two wheeled dogs at the Ophir checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail sled dog race on Wednesday March 10, 2021.

Zachariah Hughes/AP

When Lucky’s owner, Liza McCafferty, went outside to pick up the 8-year-old Havanese, she saw a black dog spring out from under her patio. It was part of a pack that suddenly appeared in her yard, she told the Anchorage Daily News.

She said the pack looked like they might attack her too, so she retreated. Then Holmes descended the hill to retrieve his sled dogs before returning home.

“He came in and really apologized,” McCafferty said. “He was about to cry.”

Lucky was taken to a veterinary clinic but died.

“It was just a really terrible accident due to my negligence,” Holmes said.

Wasilla Mayor Glenda Ledford said in a statement that there is video of the incident, which is under investigation.

“Video footage was obtained showing several dogs exiting a nearby closed trailer and running unrestrained through the area,” she said in the statement.

Holmes said he had stayed at the hotel more than a dozen times and never had a problem letting his dogs relieve themselves. He suspects two new dogs he had ventured to McCafferty’s yard, and the rest of the pack followed.

“There’s no way not to be clueless about it,” Holmes said. He said he was entirely responsible for it and wanted to make it right.

Holmes said a Wasilla city official told him he would receive 10 loose dog citations and possibly another for animal cruelty, which could affect his mushing career.

In a Facebook post last week, McCafferty posted an image of her dog, Lucky, along with a lengthy explanation of the incident.

“This tragedy was preventable,” she wrote.

Liza McCafferty posted an image of her dog, Lucky, on Facebook along with a lengthy explanation of the incident.


Bette C. Alvarado