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Running with the pups: Rescues event pairs shelter pets with Chestatee cross country team
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Perla Duarte, 15, and Logan Kiser, 16, run with dogs from the Hall County Animal Shelter during the Run with the Rescues event Saturday at Chestatee Middle School. About 10 Chestatee High cross country runners participated, running the dogs in the loop they normally take during practice. - photo by Erin O. Smith

For nine lucky puppies, Saturday morning meant time to stretch out their furry legs and run with members of the Chestatee High School cross country team.

All of the dogs came from the Hall County Animal Shelter, and program director Cindy Langman was thankful to see them out of their cages.

“This means so much to the dogs,” Langman said.

She had seen a viral video on a few social media sites, including Facebook, showing a cross country team in California taking dogs from a local shelter out on their run.

“I thought, ‘What a good idea,’” Langman said.

So Langman coordinated with her neighbor, volunteer coach and trainer Wes Wessely to put together the first Run with the Rescues.

“We should do (the run) more often,” student and runner Allan Cupps said.

The group met up at Chestatee Middle School, where each runner was paired up with a dog from the shelter.

Before their time with the puppies, Langman had a few words of wisdom for the Chestatee runners who agreed to race around with the animals during their morning jogs.

“These are shelter dogs,” she said. “Some of them aren’t comfortable on a leash yet. For some of them, this will be the first time they are on a leash.”

Logan Kiser has a dog of her own, but she was worn out by her shelter dog’s pent-up energy and ran around the track twice with her four-legged partner.

“It was a lot (of running),” Kiser said. “She likes to run.”

Some dogs were more active than others.

“My dog just wanted to lay down,” said Cupps, an 11th-grader. “He would run for five minutes and lay down.”

Cupps and his teammates were happy to help make the dogs more adoptable.

Out of the “hundreds” of dogs at the shelter, the dogs who are able to get out of their cages and expend some of that extra energy are more likely to be adopted, since they are less “crazy,” Susan Allen, a co-chair for the volunteers at the shelter, said.

Adopting a dog from the shelter costs $85, which includes deworming, microchipping, spaying or neutering and vaccinations. For more information, visit the shelter website.

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