5K to combat pet overpopulation 

click to enlarge Dr.-Summer-Heatly-with-dogs1.jpg

The Pawsitive Steps 5K, Dog Walk & Costume Contest will feature fashionable canines strutting their stuff at Wiley Post Park, 2021 S. Robinson Ave., at 9 a.m. Saturday. The event is also home to a USA Track & Field-sanctioned five- kilometer race and pet microchipping is available for $25 while supplies last.

Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) created the event to spread awareness of the country’s worsening stray animal situation and raise money for its Pet Overpopulation Program. The fund helps low-income pet owners spay or neuter their animals.

Pet overpopulation is a growing problem, and the statistics attributed to the dilemma are staggering.

“Across the country, three to four million dogs are euthanized each year,” said Dr. Rosemarie Strong, veterinarian, owner of Memorial Road Pet Hospital in Edmond and a planner of the event. “One hundred thousand animals are put down in Oklahoma alone.”

Concerns about the issue not only involve birth as well as death.

“Two dogs and their offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in a matter of six years,” said Dr. Fawn Reely, chair of the event and senior territory manager at Merial, a global animal pharmaceutical company.

Though that number can be considered a worst possible situation, in cases involving even 16,000, the number of births is alarming and very real.

Euthanasia is only one of many issues resulting from pet overpopulation. Areas with a high number of strays experience a rise in animals biting humans, strays injured by automobiles and property damage caused by strays.

Though the plight of strays is tragic, the Pawsitive Steps event is all about love and friendship of animals in an outdoor atmosphere. The 5K begins at 9 a.m. and is a down-and-back course running parallel to the Oklahoma River. The male and female winners of the run each receive a medal and a $50 gift card to Backwoods, a store specializing in high-quality technical outdoor gear.

Saturday will mark the second Pawsitive Steps. Last year’s event was held in Stillwater, but the race’s success led to a change in venue and expansion.

Dr. Jean Sander, dean of the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences at Oklahoma State University (OSUHVS), took part in the inaugural event and explained why the event and ending pet overpopulation is important not only to animals but to people.

“I look at it as one health across the board. Events like this help with a person’s health as well as their pet’s,” Sander said.

To register for the Pawsitive Steps 5K, Dog Walk & Dog Costume Contest, visit okvma.org or sign up at 8 a.m. at Wiley Post Park. The entry fee is $35 per event per person. The costume contest is free if you participate in the 5K run or dog walk but costs $35 by itself.

All attendees may bring two properly vaccinated animals on a non-retractable leash less than six feet long.

Print headline:

Pooch parade:  An Oklahoma veterinarian organization is fighting pet overpopulation by taking well-dressed dogs on a walk.

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Adam Holt

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