You must have been living under a rock if you haven’t heard of Balto – a 1995 Disney animated film that features a Husky who goes by the same name. As it turns out, Balto was a real dog that left a significant paw print on his home town of Nome, Alaska.
Back in January of 1925, the little town of Nome, Alaska, was going through some challenges. There has been an outbreak of a disease called diphtheria that affected a large sum of the town’s residents.
Being a small mining town at the time meant that the residents only had access to the little health care the local clinic could offer. This sadly didn’t include an antitoxin for the disease, which spread across the small town fast.
The closest antitoxin was found in Anchorage, nearly 674 miles away. Accompanied by 150 other sled dogs, Balto led what has later been named ‘The Serum Run’ – a race to get the antitoxin to Nome in time to save the people from an outbreak of the disease.
Balto’s journey to Nome was of course a success. The dog and his team have become a symbol of heroism in the 100 years since the event took place. Balto himself is memorized in several places throughout the U.S.
“Balto was bred at Leonhard Seppala’s kennels in Nome, Alaska. But, because Balto’s body type didn’t match that of the small, fast Huskies that were typically bred for racing (Balto was stout and strong), no specific records were saved about him or his litter. Seppala was once quoted as claiming that Balto was 6 years of age at the time of the famous Serum Run.” States The Cleveland Museum of Natural History page dedicated to the doggo.
The page continues: “On March 19, 1927, Balto and six companions were brought to Cleveland and given a hero’s welcome in a triumphant parade through Public Square. The dogs were then taken to the Brookside Zoo (now the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo) to live out their lives in dignity. It was said that 15,000 people visited the dogs on their first day at the zoo.”
The museum is also Balto’s resting place. After his passing on March 14, 1933, Balto has been mounted and is now displayed in The Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Balto was also honored with a statue at New York’s Central Park in 1925. The park commissioner stated: “a most unique occasion in having a real ‘hero’ present at the dedication of a monument in his honor, as most heroes have to wait until after they are dead to be honored.”
If like us, you didn’t know that Balto was a real dog, feel free to share this story with your friends and family!
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