About 700 people and their furry friends gathered in downtown Vancouver for the Humane Society of Southwest Washington’s annual walk/run for the animals on May 7.
This year’s fundraiser was a slight return to normalcy for the 31–year–old event. The route typically leaves Esther Short Park and follows the Columbia River, but for the past two years it ran along Main St.
The new route started as an attempt to make the event safer during the height of the pandemic and included staggered start times and dispersed starting points. However this year’s event utilized a large starting window allowing attendees to start at their discretion from a central start point at Esther Short Park.
Many of the attendees welcomed the route change because they got a chance to check out the shops and restaurants along Main St.
“It’s really nice doing downtown because we’re seeing all the different places that are downtown,” said Donna Clark. “If you don’t walk, you don’t know; you drive and you don’t see everything.”
Over the ten years that Clark attended the fundraiser, she brought different dogs each year. This year she was accompanied by Jack Frost and Naya, both Malamute husky mixes.
Cherany Delton joined the event for her second year, bringing along Lila, a Finnish Lapphund, and Lacy, who Delton described as a “supermutt.” Delton herself was dressed in a large inflatable dog costume in an effort to raise more money for the Humane Society.
“I had the idea to wear the dog suit for fundraising prior to today,” said Delton. “Initially, I thought it would be too difficult to wear it,” Delton said. “I’m just another panting dog”
The walk/run is one of the Humane Society’s biggest fundraisers raising over $208,000 this year, $8,000 over their goal.
The money raised is vital for everything the organization does, from community support programs to keeping the lights on and doors open.
The community support programs the organization offers include helping fund emergency medical procedures for pets of low income families, pet food assistance through their CHOW program and a spay and neuter clinic in conjunction with the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland.
“It is not an exaggeration when we say that without the walk/run and without events like this that engage our community and provide some greater visibility to individuals who don’t know us we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” said Sam Ellingson, director of communications and marketing for the Humane Society. “It would be much more challenging, much more difficult to provide the level of care, not only for the animals in our care but the animals in the community through our community programs.”