The dogs that helped change history
A Siberian husky named Balto led a sled dog team wearing a life-saving serum.
In early 1925, diphtheria broke out in the town of Nome, Alaska.
Diphtheria is a contagious disease transmitted through coughing, sneezing, or an open sore from an infected person.
During the winter months, it took a team of drivers and sled dogs four weeks to bring the serum to the community.
The only access to the city was via a postal route.
“Balto was the dog who led the team in successfully delivering the serum to the grateful citizens of Nome,” said the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
“Balto and his teammates became instant heroes in the United States.”
In 1925, Balto and members of his team starred in a film based on the historical medical run.
The time in the spotlight sparked a dispute over ownership of the dogs. This resulted in the animals being moved to a “cent” museum in Los Angeles.
Cleveland businessman George Kimble opposed it.
He struck a deal with the owner to buy the dogs for $2000. That would be about $47,000 in today’s money.
The catch was that he only had two weeks to find the funds. US radio called for donations.
It only took 10 days to raise the money.
Balto and six team members received a heroic welcome upon their arrival in Cleveland in March 1927.
The dogs were brought to Brookside Zoo (now Cleveland Metroparks Zoo) to live their lives with dignity.
About 15,000 people reportedly visited the dogs on their first day at the zoo.
Balto died on March 14, 1933 at the age of 14.