High school cross country team takes shelter dogs for a run

Stacy Silva, community outreach coordinator for Santa Barbara County Animal Services, is floored by the amazing response that she has seen from an idea that hit her when she recently saw a coach’s Facebook post announcing the start of high school cross country practice. Luis Escobar, coach of the  St. Joseph High School Cross-Country Team, in California, is known to be a dog lover – when Silva saw his Facebook post about practices starting, she mentioned that the teens should come and run with the shelter dogs and Escobar quickly embraced the idea.

Silva told Shelter Me, “Luis’ can do attitude and love of dogs had him messaging me right away. We set up for August 4th and this is the result.” Before the fun began, the kids were provided with some instructions to keep the dogs safe and happy and then everyone took off to burn some energy and breathe in the fresh air.

Coach Escobar wrote about the team dog run on his Facebook page:

This morning me and the St. Joseph High School Cross Country Team conducted our workout at the County Animal Shelter in Santa Maria. With the help of Stacy Silva we successfully completed the first ever team Dog Run! Each team member was assigned a dog and we went out for a couple miles around the shelter. I am not sure who was more excited and having the most fun…the dogs or the kids. Either way, it was a great time and I am sure we will do it again sometime soon.

The outing was a resounding success – the dogs were excited to be out of the shelter environment, and the runners, who happened to be earning community service volunteer hours while having a great time, were happy to be in the company of adorable canine companions while mixing up their regular running practice.

The team dog run was such a hit that Silva is certain that there will be more to come. She told Shelter Me, “We hope to make this a regular occurrence with the team and offered any of them to return and run with our dogs on their own.” She added, “We also hope to encourage other schools to get involved with their local animal shelter.  There are thousands of animals waiting in shelters and these kids, that are already running, have the ability to make a huge impact for those animals.  It is amazing what a little time outside the kennel can do.”

There are three shelters in Santa Barbara County.  Although this event took place at the Santa Maria Animal Center, the Lompoc and Santa Barbara facilities can use volunteers as well.  People interested in helping at the Santa Maria or Lompoc shelters can contact Stacy Silva at 805-934-6981 or email stacy.silva@sbcphd.org. To get involved in Santa Barbara, please contact Jeanne Saadi at 805-681-4332 or email jeanne.saadi@sbcphd.org.

Two days after the run, Santa Barbara County Animal Services informed Facebook followers how the Santa Barbara County Animal Care Foundation is helping to make the runs even better for the dogs:

Now, our partners with the Santa Barbara County Animal Care Foundation have offered to supply us with Ruffwear Dog Running Harnesses to make this an even more comfortable experience for our dogs.

Donations can be made to the Santa Barbara County Animal Care Foundation at www.sbcanimalcare.org.

(Photo and video via Luis Escobar/Facebook)






Penny Eims

Penny is a freelance writer who provided content to her National Dog News column at Examiner.com for 8 years. She is a current contributor to Fido Friendly Magazine, as well as a newly formed website, Pet Rescue Report. Penny is married and she has two rescued German shepherds and two kids.


  1. Gary Wooten says:

    Absolutely terrific!!!!!!!

  2. AD says:

    This should be a ‘stately’ across America. Wonderful!

  3. Leslie says:

    What a fantastic win-win situation. Can this become a phenomenon across the country? What a great benefit for all involved.

  4. Nathan says:

    “God bless those teenagers and the k-9’s, what a great idea,!!!” please keep up good the good work!!!!

  5. Vicki Russell says:

    What a beautiful idea! The benefits to both human and animal are incredible ???. Wish I lived there. I would happily take a dog on my runs/hikes. Perhaps I’ll look into getting something similar going in Washington.

  6. Very good website you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any discussion boards that cover the same topics discussed in this article?
    I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get advice from other knowledgeable individuals that share
    the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let
    me know. Appreciate it!

  7. Brandi segraves says:

    Such a fantastic combination! Thank you for making this happen.

  8. Mongoose218 says:

    GREAT idea, and hopefully some of the runners may bond with a dog enough to consider adoption!

  9. Bev says:

    what a fantastic idea 🙂

Comments are closed.