Sneakers and paws run to help Humane Society

People and dogs step up in fundraiser for no-kill shelter

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter

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WASHOUGAL — Runners and walkers of all ages — and breeds — spent their Saturday morning hiking the dike to support the community’s furry friends.

Hundreds of two- and four-legged athletes took part in the seventh annual Hike on the Dike to benefit the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society. The event featured 5K and 10K runs and a 2.7-mile walk, all starting and ending in the parking lot of Pendleton Woolen Mills.

Cindy Bartel of Washougal and Jigsaw, her 7-month-old Australian shepherd, were among the dozens of sneakers and paws that took off from the 10K starting line when the song “Who let the dogs out?” blasted from the speakers.

“I run for fun, and it’s for a good cause — for dogs,” Bartel said.

The West Columbia Gorge Humane Society is an independent no-kill animal shelter in Washougal. Each month, the shelter has about 75 to 100 dogs and cats under its care, said Misha Piccola, the shelter’s board president.

Last year, the shelter had 450 animal adoptions, Piccola said. This year, the shelter is focusing on increasing its foster home base so it can rescue more animals, she said.

“This is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year,” Piccola said of Saturday’s event. “This is part of what keeps us going. This is integral.”

By the time the event started at 10 a.m., organizers had already reached their $10,000 fundraising goal. That includes money collected from sponsorships, vendor fees and registration fees. About 220 people registered in advance for the event; more than 50 people signed up at the event Saturday.

At the starting line of the running events, dogs whimpered and whined while their human counterparts stretched and chatted with other runners.

Niki Hruska of Portland and Libby Mongue-Wymore of Fairview, Ore., made the trip across the Columbia River to take part in the 10K. Hruska brought her 7-year-old black lab/border collie, Bogey, along for the fun.

“He loves to get out,” Hruska said. “He’s the athlete of the family.”

In addition to the running and walking, the event included nearly 50 vendors offering a variety of products and services for pets and people. Katie High of High Expectations Dog Training gave demonstrations on an agility course and led visiting pooches through the obstacles. And police K9s showed off their skills in afternoon demonstrations.

Jason and Jody Beach of Washougal checked out the event for the first time Saturday. They brought their running buddy, Enzo, a 6-year-old Italian greyhound.

The trio ran the 10K on the dike, which is one of their regular running spots.

“We’re trying to do a lot of runs this season,” Jason Beach said. “And it’s for a good cause.”