By Tiana Nelson
Animals are something I think a lot about when I’m running. Now that I’m training for the NYC Marathon, I’m doing a lot of running, so it’s easy to see that I gave the idea of “what I could do to help animals” quite a bit of thought.
After I started doing research and began volunteering with rescued dogs, I felt empowered and enlightened. Soon, however, that feeling was replaced by being discouraged and overwhelmed by all of the bad things happening that I had no control over.
None of the animals I met deserved anything but a loving home, and I was reminded constantly of the mistreatment of animals and the terrible things that human beings are capable of. But, we are also capable of amazing, good things — and that side is what really gives me hope that society as a whole can make a change.
One day it came to me, my running didn’t have to just be a place where I could process my thoughts about animals — it was something that could make a difference for animals. I drafted an email to my friends and family and “Running for Rescues” was born.
I decided that by running, I could encourage people to donate a certain amount per mile run to animal shelters or rescues of their choice. After one month, the program is already up to $1,300 pledged — thanks to the incredible support of my family, friends and coworkers.
Now, when I run, it gives me something to run for, and it gave me a way to combine my passion for running and my passion for animals and to help call people to action.
In NYC this November, I plan to create a shirt for Running for Rescues, so it might be noticed by a fellow runner or one of the millions of spectators. In all honesty, I don’t really know if my efforts will change anyone’s mind about the importance of adopting animals from a shelter.
But if a couple people start to think about the issue and start to see things in a different way, I will feel like I’ve already won … even before I cross the finish line.
Tiana Nelson is from Denver, Colo., and started the Doggie Avenger Blog with the goal of educating people and changing their perceptions about animals. When she began volunteering at a local animal shelter, it struck her that so many people were not actively aware of animal overpopulation. She hopes to change the lives of animals one-by-one through increasing awareness and encouraging people to always adopt — never buy from a breeder or pet store, to always spay and neuter their pets, to understand the depth of animal issues and to know why all of that is important. Tiana currently works in higher education, and in her free time enjoys traveling, running, volunteering with animals, spending time with her two pugs, and her family and friends.