Friday, May 25 , 2018, 1:07 am | Overcast 59º

 
 
 
 

Local News

St. Joseph High School Cross-Country Team’s Run with Shelter Dogs Goes Viral

Tale of students pairing up with canines spurs others across the country to do the same as the local team goes on a second adventure

Stacy Silva, left, of Santa Barbara County Animal Services talks to members of the St. Joseph High School cross-country team before their second run with dogs from the Santa Maria Animal Shelter. After the first run, the shelter received a donation of 15 special running harnesses from Ruffwear. Click to view larger
Stacy Silva, left, of Santa Barbara County Animal Services talks to members of the St. Joseph High School cross-country team before their second run with dogs from the Santa Maria Animal Shelter. After the first run, the shelter received a donation of 15 special running harnesses from Ruffwear. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The tale of the St. Joseph High School cross-country team’s training run with dogs from Santa Barbara County Animal Services has gone viral and spurred others to do the same. 

With runners showing up Monday at the Santa Maria Animal Shelter to undertake a second run in Orcutt, coach Luis Escobar talked about the widespread attention of the run, first reported by Noozhawk on Aug. 5.

Since then, Escobar’s video has been viewed thousands of times, with stories appearing in Dodo, The Huffington Post, Runner's World, ESPN and national television news shows, among other outlets. 

“We’ve gotten some national media attention, which has been exciting — a little surreal,” said Stacy Silva, community outreach coordinator for Animal Services. “Overall, the result has been overwhelmingly positive, and we cannot wait to do it again.” 

Animal Services representatives hope to have the program expand to the Lompoc and Santa Barbara shelters.

Outside Santa Barbara County, other schools are following the lead of the St. Joseph team, with calls going to Escobar, the school’s athletic director and shelter workers.

“They all ask the same thing — how do we do it in our community? It was just so spontaneous and organic. We never intended it to be a big deal,” Escobar said. 

Paired for the first dog run, St. Joseph High School cross-country runner Joshua Menusa and Fred are now linked — Menusa’s family adopted the border terrier from the Santa Maria Animal Shelter.
Paired for the first dog run, St. Joseph High School cross-country runner Joshua Menusa and Fred are now linked — Menusa’s family adopted the border terrier from the Santa Maria Animal Shelter. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The Quincy Notre Dame High School cross-country team in Illinois conducted its first run with plans for another in September. 

“Great idea,” the team’s Twitter page said. “We wore them out!!”

The run landed one dog a permanent home. Fred, the tired small dog seen being carried by Joshua Menusa in the final seconds of the video from the first run, now lives with the family. 

The family decided that if the border terrier remained at the shelter a week after the first run that they would adopt him.

“The whole team had a lot of fun. The dogs had a lot of fun,” Menusa said. “It was just a really exciting day for everybody.”

Despite the attention, the coach’s focus still involves fielding a competitive cross-country team, Escobar said.

“But if a small gesture can benefit people and animals around the country, why not do it? It’s been a really easy thing for us to do,” Escobar said. “This is a good example of you really don’t need many resources to do something that’s good.”

The idea for the run arose from the friendship of Escobar and shelter workers.

Clare Wheeler tends to her dog for the day before she and other St. Joseph High School cross-country team members run with dogs from the Santa Maria Animal Shelter.
Clare Wheeler tends to her dog for the day before she and other St. Joseph High School cross-country team members run with dogs from the Santa Maria Animal Shelter. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“I am a little surprised because it was such a simple idea that has kind of taken off,” Silva said.

Since the first run, the Santa Maria shelter has received a donation of 15 special running harnesses from Ruffwear

The Santa Barbara County Animal Care Foundation is raising money to purchase more.

Silva said the dog run appears to have generated interest in adoptions, bringing more people to the shelter.

“For us, the biggest thing is the attention and exercise it brings to our shelter dogs,” Silva said. “On top of that, just because it’s gotten so much attention, the hope is that shelter dogs in other areas will actually benefit as shelters explore how they can utilize their local cross-country team to help make a difference.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Members of the St. Joseph HIgh School cross-country team run with a dog from the Santa Maria Animal Shelter. It was the second time the team took the shelter dogs for a run. Click to view larger
Members of the St. Joseph HIgh School cross-country team run with a dog from the Santa Maria Animal Shelter. It was the second time the team took the shelter dogs for a run. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Supporter

Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >