300 showed up to hike with homeless dogs Saturday

The organizers from Concho Valley PAWS, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the San Angelo Animal Shelter were pleasantly surprised Saturday morning when approximately 300 people showed up to the event “Hike with a Homeless Dog” at the San Angelo State Park.

Not expecting more than 50-80 people to attend, CVP and TPWD only arranged for 50 dogs to be transported from the shelter to the park Saturday morning.

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“We had 50 dogs with us today and still have people waiting for dogs; which is a good problem to have. If we can get half of them adopted we are happy,” Executive Director at CVP, Jenie Wilson said.

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The line to get into the park was long as more and more people kept coming in to help make a homeless dog happy.

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Eventually someone from the shelter had to drive back and pick up an additional 10 to 20 dogs because of the high attendance. Several of the dogs that were already at the event were also able to walk more than one round with more than one person.

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According to Wilson, CVP was approached by the TPWD to host the event at the park, and it went so well that they are hoping to make it a monthly event.

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“We are really grateful to the city’s shelter for partnering with us and for TPWD for approaching us about the event. This would not have been possible without them,” she said.

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“It was actually our Interpretive ranger Billie Hancock who took the idea and ran with it,” Superintendent at SASP, Kurt Kemp said.

“I was looking for a new program for the park and came across this event that had been organized in other cities on the Texas Parks and Wildlife calendar. I then contacted superintendent Kemp and Jenie Wilson who said yes to co-host it. Working with Jenie has been great and this event has been amazing,” Hancock said.

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Both Kemp and Hancock believed the event was excellent and would not mind co-hosting it again if Paws desires to do so. Both agreed the event turned out to be a lot bigger than all of them expected, but its a good problem to have and something they can take into account next time they host the event.

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“We got 8000 acres at the park that some people in San Angelo still do not know about, so not only is this event great for the dogs, getting them out of the kennels and providing them with some exercise, human interaction and interaction with other dogs, it is also a very good exposure for the park,” Kemp said.

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The Angelo State University students and Delta Zeta Society members Kelsey Deuvell and Marioa Sanchez were two of the 300 attendees Saturday morning. “We heard about the event from Concho Valley Paws and we wanted to help out. If we weren’t students we would definitely adopt from the shelter. At least we can help in this way in the meantime,” the girls said.

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Laura Ortiz heard about the event through her sister who had asked her if she wanted to go and walk a homeless dog. “Me and my two boys love dogs, and although we already have a dog, this event makes me consider getting another one,” Ortiz said.

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Jessica Worley was at the “Hike with a Homeless Dog” to walk a dog that she and her husband became foster parents for two weeks ago. The dog, named Rosie, was supposed to go to another permanent home, but after she brought the dog to this event she decided to adopt Rosie. After seeing how well she got a long with other dogs, she decided to keep her.

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“I really recommend fostering even if you don’t want to adopt the dog after. The fostering process was easy. We went into the office at the mall, filled in a form with references and the next day they had already reached out to the people on our list and told us we could foster Rosie. If we did not have a dog beforehand they would also provide us with a leash, collar, dog food etc.,” Worley said. “Fostering doesn’t cost anything. You just have to open your heart and open your home.”

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Kim Spooner, one of the many volunteers at Saturday’s event also volunteers at a website where people can look for or share information about lost pets.

“If you lose or find a pet you can post it on helpmegethome.com. It will ask you for additional information about the dog and a picture if you have one. It is a great way to find a lost pet,” she said.

“Me and my family likes to help out as much as we can. We have four dogs ourselves, we volunteer at adopting events and I volunteer to work on the Help Me Get Home website every single day. I also encourage anyone who finds a pet to take it to a vet clinic and see if it has a microchip for free. South Side Vet Clinic is open 24/7 as an emergency vet clinic.”

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After the hike at SASP, the CVP and SAAS will head to Petco, where anyone who met, saw or heard about a dog can stop by to adopt.

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“We will be there from 1-6 p.m. and all the dogs are looking for a forever home,” Wilson stated.

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For more information, call 325-656-PETS (7387).