Cross-Country Team Trains With Lonely Shelter Dogs

This high school cross-country team takes shelter dogs with them on their daily run so they can get exercise, sunlight and fresh air.

Animal shelter dogs who spend most of their lonely days in indoor cages are finally getting a breath of fresh air.

A California animal shelter and high school cross-country team are joining forces –  for the fourth straight year – to take shelter dogs on a daily run.

Often coming from homes where they were neglected, these sheltered dogs have spent most of their lives without adequate exercise, attention or time outdoors.

“You’ve got a bunch of dogs that are in cages, and want to be outside running, and I’ve got a group of high school students that love to run,”  St. Joseph Cross-Country Coach Luis Escobar told CBS News.

Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter coordinator Stacy Silva came up with idea when she noticed the high school team run by her shelter.

“Why aren’t they running our dogs?” she remembers thinking before contacting Escobar.

Escobar said he couldn’t say no, calling the pairing a “perfect match.”

Initially the runners were a little hesitant, but now it’s hard to tell who’s more excited to see who.

“When the dogs realized that they were getting out of those kennels and to go outside as a group, it was just happy chaos,” said Escobar.

But the students experience a bittersweet feeling when it’s time to return the dogs to the kennel.

“When we have to put him back it’s kind of like, ‘I’m really sorry about this, but hopefully you’ll get adopted,’” said senior Sequoia Chumpitaz.

The ultimate goal is to raise awareness about the plight of shelter animals, he says. “But the attachment is real.”