The Seattle Animal Shelter operates a BRILLIANT volunteer program called Get Fit With Fido. Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings, volunteers pick up shelter dogs, put them in adorable vests that say “I’m Available for Adoption” and take them running.
According to the organization, here are the primary goals of the program:
- Vigorously exercise dogs that are confined to kennels for long periods of time
- Find loving homes for shelter dogs
- Increase public awareness of the shelter and let people know that adoptable dogs are not routinely “put to sleep”
- Recruit volunteers for various programs at the shelter
- Encourage runners and joggers to adopt dogs for companionship and safety
I started running in March, right after we adopted a great shelter dog we named O’Malley. He came to live with us on March 1st. By March 3rd, it became apparent that he needed more exercise than just a daily stroll around the neighborhood. It was also clear that he didn’t know what a leash was, and was a pain to walk with at first because of the pulling, and the marking, and the smelling everything. Patience and training improved his leash behavior, and when he sees us pick up the leash he knows it is time to go for his jog. Running with our dog has improved our fitness, allowed us to meet our neighbors, and gave us a calm and well-behaved dog. Georgia is a state with one of the highest number of unwanted but adoptable pets in the country. Perhaps a similar program would help shelter dogs become more adoptable and more visible.