No dog left behind in new program offered by Routt County Humane Society | SteamboatToday.com

No dog left behind in new program offered by Routt County Humane Society

Sam and Juli Gordon of Smell That Bread Bakery in Steamboat Springs take part in the Routt County Humane Society's first ever "Pack Walk," which seeks business and community groups interested in taking all of the dogs currently in the animal shelter for a group walk, ensuring that no dog is left behind. Five pooches got to romp in the spring air May 4, and four others were chilling at their foster homes.

— The middle of May in the Yampa Valley, when the tulips finally begin to bloom, can be uplifting, but for too many dogs in Steamboat Springs, it's the time of year when their humans move into new condominiums that may not allow tenants to have pets. And that means an influx of dogs at the Routt County Humane Society's animal shelter.

"In mud season, more people seem to surrender their pets," Humane Society animal care and adoption technician Jessica Scroble said this week. "We get puppies, and we get senior dogs."

Happily, many of the people who feel compelled to bring their dogs to the shelter in order to secure housing turn into volunteers. And there's a new opportunity this spring for people who are in between dogs to re-connect.

Humane Society volunteer coordinator Laura Brewer and trainer Jana Hoffman launched the first in what they hope will be a recurring series of "Pack Walks." The idea is to engage community groups in feel-good team building while ensuring that every dog in the pound will get to go for a walk at the same time.

A dog pound is what it is and not a calming place for the animals. But the animal shelter in Steamboat is special — it even has an outdoor obstacle course where Hoffman challenges the pooches to stretch their boundaries.

"If there are no volunteers to walk them," one at a time, Scroble said, she walks them. But the sad whining from the dogs that are left behind makes it plain they don't understand. And therein lies the motivation for the Pack Walk program.

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"We want the the community to know we're coming up with ways to make volunteering more fun, and most importantly, continue to enrich the lives of the animals at the shelter," Brewer said.

The hope is that the volunteers also will be uplifted by the experience.

On a bright day in early May, Hoffman outfitted five eager dogs with their own reflective vests. and the volunteers from Smell That Bread were handed special doggie water bottles with foldout drinking dishes.

Initially, the dogs acted out, but once they realized they were going for an extended walk, they behaved remarkably well.

The group set out from the shelter on Critter Court, just off 13th Street and walked a dirt trail to the Lithia Spring then on into the Fairview neighborhood, ultimately going as far as the library and Little Toots Park, before turning around.

Groups contemplating a Pack Walk are advised the events are supervised by Humane Society staff.

The crew as Smell that Bread is so taken with the Pack Walks, they've begun baking dog biscuits made of brown rice, flour and oats. A percentage of the proceeds will benefit the Humane Society.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

Take your walk for a dog

Groups interested in signing up for a Pack Walk with the Routt County Humane Society can contact volunteer coordinator Laura Brewer at 970-879-7247 or at WoofTRax.com app either at the Apple Store on through Google Play. It tracks the duration and distance of every walk.

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