Paws for your Heart – A run that makes a difference!
Last weekend, many runners and walkers came out to Ida Lee Park in Leesburg to take part in our first annual ‘Paws for your Heart’ 5K and 1K run. Paws for your Heart is a non-profit 501c-3 and something that Leesburg Veterinary Hospital is very proud to sponsor. Proceeds from the organization are dedicated to providing treatment for shelter and rescue dogs suffering from heartworm disease. Being able to save these dogs from a serious and oftentimes fatal disease has been incredibly rewarding for the entire LVH team.
It was a great atmosphere and a great turn out. Potomac River Running came to DJ/MC the event and enjoyed cheering on all the runners with us, both two and four-legged! Participants arrived around 9am to pick up their race numbers, t-shirts and goody bags. We made sure the dogs were also included with their swanky PFYH bandanas!
PRR played great music while people were warming up and stretching. Around 9:50am the 5K runners gathered at the start line. Dr. Strickland gave a speech about Paws for your Heart and thanked everyone for supporting the cause.
At 10am it was “runners to your mark……… GO!’. It was wonderful witnessing a sea of blue t-shirts and bandanas all headed out enthusiastically on the course. One of the best parts was seeing the joy in the dogs’ faces at being able to run all their energy out with their owners.
The course was cross country and hilly at times. Mother Nature got the better of us with all the rain we’ve had recently and some spots were quite muddy. We put straw down and tried to make the course as passable as we could. At 10:15am the 1K runners and walkers went out.
We had children running with their pets, people running solo and every dog imaginable from Newfoundlands to tiny Chihuahuas – we’re lookin’ at you, Pinky!
Around 10:45am we had an awards ceremony. The top 3 Female and Male runners were given awards as well as the top 1K runner and Top Dog – nice job, Kirby! Orange Theory Fitness Leesburg, Black Walnut Brewery, The Lightfoot restaurant and Happy Hound all kindly donated wonderful prizes to each of our winners.
Each finisher got a Paws for your Heart medal, and a lot of the dogs wore it proudly! By 11:30am, most of the runners had headed home to get some well-earned rest.
Proceeds from this race go towards the treatment of heartworm positive dogs that are greatly in need of treatment to be taken out of local shelters and given a chance at life. Heartworm disease is a very serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms that live in the pulmonary vessels – the vessels which carry blood from the heart to the lungs. Heartworm disease can cause severe lung disease, heart failure, and damage to other organs in the body. Heartworm treatment can be extremely costly and prolonged so dogs in shelters that have this condition are often overlooked. Treatment varies but can consist of veterinary exams, laboratory tests to confirm the heartworm disease, baseline bloodwork values, radiographs, medications, heartworm treatment injections, and hospitalization during the procedures. With the help of Zoetis, LVH was able to treat 4 heartworm positive dogs last year that have gone on to live healthy, happy lives. With the success of Paws for your Heart, we will be able to expand these services year after year and hope to make a real difference to pets and their owners in our community.
Huge thanks go out to Ellen Zangla Photography for capturing wonderful images from the day. Digital Spoon for sponsoring and filming the event. We are also so grateful to Potomac River Running for helping with race organization and DJing the event. Lastly, to all our amazing sponsors and contributors: Virbac, Zoetis, BI, Vantage Construction, Digital Spoon, Comfenergy, Orange Theory Fitness Leesburg, Black Walnut Brewery, The Lightfoot Restaurant, and Happy Hound.