High School Athletes Find Motivation and Companionship in Shelter Dog Runs

High school athletes across the US are running with shelter dogs, providing exercise and companionship for the animals while teaching students valuable lessons in responsibility and empathy.

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Quadri Adejumo
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High School Athletes Find Motivation and Companionship in Shelter Dog Runs

High School Athletes Find Motivation and Companionship in Shelter Dog Runs

High school athletes across the country are discovering a unique way to find motivation and companionship while giving back to their communities: running with shelter dogs. The idea, started by coach Luis Escobar at St. Joseph High School in California in 2016, has inspired other schools to launch similar programs.

At Steinbrenner High School in Florida, about 15 students from the cross country team have been running with dogs from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay for the past seven years. The students participate several times a week during breaks and the summer, catering to each dog's individual needs and fitness levels. Over the years, these runs have led to several dog adoptions.

Rock Island High School in Illinois has also implemented a program for their athletes to run with shelter dogs, giving them an opportunity to contribute to their community. The students find the experience rewarding and enjoy the companionship of the dogs during their runs.

Why this matters: Programs like these not only provide much-needed exercise and socialization for shelter dogs, but also teach high school students valuable lessons in responsibility, empathy, and the importance of giving back. The bonds formed between the athletes and dogs can lead to increased adoptions, thereby saving lives.

Coach Escobar, whose viral video of his team running with shelter dogs inspired other schools to follow suit, believes these programs benefit both the students and the animals. "It's a win-win situation," he said. "The dogs get out of the shelter for a while, and the kids learn about responsibility and the importance of volunteering."

Key Takeaways

  • High school athletes run with shelter dogs to find motivation and give back.
  • Programs have led to dog adoptions and teach students responsibility, empathy.
  • Steinbrenner High in Florida and Rock Island High in Illinois have such programs.
  • Programs benefit both students and dogs by providing exercise and socialization.
  • Coach Escobar's viral video inspired other schools to start similar initiatives.