AKRON, Ohio — Shelter dogs aren’t used to the sights, sounds and smells of freedom, but one local organization is on a mission to change that.
They’re putting movement to the love they have for rescue animals, one mile at a time.
Kate Bilinski has devoted more than three years to volunteering with RunningDog.
“It's a combination of two things I love, rescue dogs and running,” Bilinski said.
Through RunningDog, she and the other volunteers are able to get more than just a good workout.
“You get so much joy from just doing this, seeing him in complete ease and seeing him happy,” Karen Ramsey, volunteer, said. “He’s able to get out and be a real dog, it brings you so much happiness."
Beverly Dillon started RunningDog after leaving her corporate job.
Now, her mission still stands true.
“Keep adoptable dogs physically exercised, mentally stimulated and emotionally balanced,” Dillon said. “It could all be done at one time."
Something as simple as running.
Her volunteers visit shelters in the area, give the dogs TLC, run a few miles with them and then return them to the shelters.
“The dogs are in jail basically, through no fault of their own,” Dillon said. “If we can show one dog a good time for an hour, that's a victory.”
The ultimate goal is adoption, but volunteers say they want to make sure the dogs enjoy the process leading up to that.
“We're not just running them, we're getting them out in the world, they get to smell things, we get to pet them, they get to see that humans are still good,” Ramsey said.
Though some of the dogs will run, for some, just being able to mosey around outside is enough.
“Most of these dogs are not true runners,” Bilinski said. “Interval training is what we jokingly call it, it’s where they run, stop, walk, sniff."
If the smile on the dog’s face isn’t enough, the proof is in the numbers.
“We've been active for four years, so we've gone on about 5,000 runs and if you put that into an average of mileage, 10,000 miles that we have ran with dogs,” Dillon said.
If you’re not into running, you can always donate. It takes $25 per dog for the program to be successful.
Click on this link to get more information.