Shelter Dogs Have Morning Run With High School Track Teams

Dogs, like humans, need daily exercise to stay healthy.


 Unfortunately, most of them who end up in shelters don’t get much of it. This is often because of the lack of space and volunteers to take them outside for some exercise and sunshine.

Fortunately, that staff at one California shelter thought of a fantastic idea to solve this issue the best way possible.


Training with dogs

About two years ago, Santa Barbara County Animal Services spokeswoman Stacy Silva got the idea of partnering with a local high school’s cross-country team when she saw the kids running by the shelter.

“Geographically, we’re very close. I thought, ‘Why aren’t they running our dogs?’”

That was when she got in touch with the St. Joseph High School runners’ then-coach Luis Escobar. Stacy quickly managed to convince him to get his kids to take out some shelter dogs and bring them along during training runs. This way, the dogs could get to spend some time away from their kennels.


In the end, Stacy considered the set up to be a perfect combination. The kids are getting their training, and the dogs can have a bit of fun and exercise instead of being stuck at the shelter all day.

Luis thought so as well and said that the team’s members love the dogs. It looks like it’s mutual. The dogs have been pretty excited about it too. In fact, Luis even wonders which of the two has more fun during the run, the dogs or the kids.


Sparking partnerships

Eventually, the partnership spurred other shelters and schools to connect in a similar way. Groups in other parts of California have actually contacted Stacy saying that they want to create a program like hers, too.

At the moment, Stacy is also still open to working with other sports teams in her area who may want to take their dogs out for a run.


Wide influence

Interestingly, Stacy’s genius idea has spread even as far as the other side of the country in Florida, where another high school track team is spending their morning runs with shelter dogs.

The group of Steinbrenner High School kids and the Humane Society of Tampa Bay dogs spends an hour each day together to cover a couple of miles and spend some time sprinting after squirrels.

The effort was started by the team’s coach Bob Ennis, who read about the program in California.

track team

Valuing community engagement, Bob decided to reach out to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. The organization immediately agreed and even gave the runners a class to prepare them before interacting with the dogs.

Bob told Today:

“We wake up and look forward to it each day. It’s a great way to start the day.”

In fact, some of the boys on the team has even taken to helping the dogs find new homes by posting pictures of them on Facebook.

Check out a video of one of the runs below:

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