Rescue Runners: pairing runners with shelter dogs

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - The Jefferson SPCA just started doing something amazing!  In partership with Synergistic Lifestyles, LLC, they're connecting dogs at the shelter with runners, giving the dogs a break from being inside a kennel all day.  News With a Twist reporter Deepak Saini put on his running shoes to catch up with the Rescue Runners.

Rise and shine!  It's time for doggy boot camp!

"They're a lot less energetic during the day which is good, gets some of that energy out, and we get some of our energy out," says Rescue Runner Josh Aranguiz

At the crack of dawn, the Rescue Runner pair up wit ha four-legged friend and hit the pavement in City Park.

"This dog is really energetic and he`s a really good runner, and I really like running with him cause he can keep pace," says Rescue Runner Lori Andersen.

Lori Andersen is a marathon runner.  She found her match in Chippy, who kept up with her for 2.5 miles.

"I had another dog the first couple laps around, and he wasn't as good of a runner," says Andersen.

Not all are morning dogs.  Some prefer a leisurely walk.  While others like Rocky need a little encouragement with a belly rub.

"You have to be patient with them. You learn a lot of patience. You learn that they're just trying to have a good time too, and they've never really been out here before," says Aranguiz.

After a couple of laps around, water is a welcome sight and heavy panting is a familiar sound.

"We do walk the dogs and we have volunteers and they run and they play but they don't really get to take that whole extra edge off, so seeing them out here running in this beautiful New Orleans City Park is really kinda dumbfounding, cause you see them running like they're someone's pet, but they're available for adoption," says Jacob Stroman with the Jefferson SPCA.

The Jefferson SPCA takes in thousands of dogs a year, most spending their days in a confined area.  A chance to stretch their legs on a beautiful morning is a luxury.

"We're giving them a little business card for that animal and telling them to gome home and promote that pet an tell their friends and colleagues to take a look at the dog they're running for that day," says Stroman.

You can't help but bond with your running buddy.  You just want to take them home.

"Every single one of them. Yup, absolutely. My roommates would kill me though if I brought a ton of dogs home," says Aranguiz.

The Rescue Runners meet every Wednesday at 6:15 a.m. at the Great Lawn in City Park.  Anyone is welcome to run the dogs, and of course, they're available for adoption.

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