By Teri Carnicelli
Many North Central residents often can be found enjoying the season’s perfect outdoor weather on the historic Murphy Bridle Path, which runs along Central Avenue from Missouri Avenue north to the Arizona Canal.
And more often than not, you see those walkers accompanied by their canine companions.
Some of those dogs are now sporting canine apparel that lets passers-by know these are not your regular four-legged companions. Rather, they are shelter dogs that are looking for their forever home.
The Arizona Humane Society (AHS) last month launched an off-campus dog-walking program for adoptable dogs housed at AHS’ Sunnyslope Campus.
The new Bridle Path Program gives AHS volunteers the opportunity to take adoptable dogs out of the shelter and for walks along the 2.5-mile dirt path, which offers a shady, tree-lined trail in central Phoenix.
“Since our Sunnyslope Campus lacks walking paths and has limited space within our play yards, the program is a fun new way for both AHS pets and volunteers to get some fresh air, and maybe even meet their new pet parent along the way,” said AHS President and CEO Dr. Steven Hansen.
The Bridle Path Program is one of a variety of new programs the Arizona Humane Society has launched in the past year in an effort to better showcase their adoptable animals.
“Humans can get some exercise, shelter dogs can get some exercise, and they both get to utilize one of our great walking paths,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “If you are looking for a great volunteer opportunity and you love animals, there is no better place to go.”
Sharon Kinsella, director of Volunteer Engagement for AHS, says the dog-walking program will initially be available to existing volunteers who have spent some time at the shelter working with dogs. However, she anticipates more volunteer dog walkers will be needed by early summer.
New volunteers must be at least 16 years of age and must go through an orientation, which is held every month, and then spend a little time volunteering at the shelter before being eligible for the dog-walking program. Kinsella explains that this it to see how well the volunteers interact with the dogs and that they can handle the dogs when away from the shelter environment, particularly when walking them in an area with vehicle traffic, bicycle riders, joggers, and of course, other neighborhood dog walkers.
Kinsella says the program will most benefit those dogs that don’t do well in a shelter environment. A good walk can tire them out for the day, making them less stressed when back at the shelter.
For more information about becoming a volunteer for the Arizona Humane Society, call 602-997-7585, ext. 1040 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.