In 1925 Balto, a Norwegian-owned Siberian husky, was instrumental in saving the lives of many young people when he helped transport vital serum to an isolated township in Alaska. Sadly, Balto’s brief spell in the spotlight was followed by years of miserable confinement and neglect. Online Screening ep 2: American version
In the winter of 1925 unusually heavy snowstorms left Nome cut off from the outside world, and to add to the townspeople’s distress, diphtheria struck. A number of children succumbed and the epidemic threatened to wipe out the entire population, as no medicines were to hand to counter the disease. The authorities realized that the only way to reach the stricken town with supplies of life-giving serum was by relays of dog teams, twenty in all, across a thousand kilometres of icy wastes.
With Balto in the lead, sled-driver Gunnar Kaasen, a Norwegian, set off together with his dogteam on the last gruelling leg to Nome in a blizzard that completely obliterated the trail they were following. Unerringly, however, Balto led the way, and the vital serum reached Nome in time to save the population from impending death.
The drama made the front page of every newspaper from Los Angeles to New York. Throughout the country, ‘The Race Against Death’ was on everybody’s lips, and Balto rocketed to fame overnight. And the film that followed, Balto’s Race to Nome, with Balto and Kaasen playing themselves, was likewise a runaway success.