About Community Posts
In order to promote community participation, open debate, and facilitate the sharing of fitness-related news, Active Life DC allows members of the local fitness community to contribute posts. We do not vet these posts, and the opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Active Life DC. More information can be found in our Terms of Service. For information on how you can submit a post, visit this page.
Thanks to Melissa Morris, Washington Humane Society's Behavior and Training Counselor, and for answering our questions.
Tell us about the your club's mission and history.
PACK was started in 2008 when a couple of WHS employees began to take a particular shelter dog for a run on Saturday mornings. They immediately noticed an improvement in the dog’s focus and overall behavior. This inspired them to start a program so more shelter dogs could reap these benefits. PACK gives dogs a chance to get out of the shelter and stretch their legs. Not only do they get to burn off energy, but PACK volunteers also spend time training them skills that will help them be successful in a home, such as leash walking, sit, down, and stay. Having volunteers spend one on one time with the dogs in another environment also gives us important information about how the dogs react to new situations. Are they distracted by other dogs or squirrels? Do they pull on leash or walk by your side? We can relay this information to potential adopters so they will know what to expect when taking the dog on walks. The dogs aren’t the only ones who benefit from PACK! The volunteers get to spend time with lots of great dogs. And they get to go home afterwards knowing that they’ve made a difference in that dog’s life.
How much does it cost to join?
There is a $10 application fee.
What skill levels are appropriate?
Some dog handling experience is recommended, but not required. We will teach volunteers what they need to know, such as putting on a harness and handling the dog when on a walk. New volunteers are paired up with experienced PACK handlers for the first several outings, so they get plenty of one-on-one training. A lot of our PACK dogs are 50 plus pounds, so volunteers will need to be physically capable of handling them.
How many members are in your club? What are your club's demographics in terms of age, gender, etc.?
We have over 300 volunteers enrolled in PACK, but most of those volunteers only attend occasionally. There are typically 10-15 people at each PACK outing. Most of our PACK volunteers are in their late 20’s, early 30’s, the majority being women.
Does your club have weekly workouts/runs? If so, when and where are they?
Currently, PACK runs Saturday mornings at 8:00 AM (Georgia Avenue and New York Avenue dogs), and Sunday afternoons at 3:00 PM (New York Ave dogs only). Ideally, volunteers are able to pick up and transport a dog from either the Georgia Avenue NW or New York Avenue NE adoption center to Rock Creek Park, the National Mall, or the Arboretum.
Does the group get together for social events as well?
After each PACK run, volunteers hang out to spend time cuddling with the dogs and taking photos. These photos are often used in the dog’s online adoption profile! Periodically, the group also goes for happy hour or post PACK meals.
Is your club hosting any noteworthy events/races soon? Give us details!
Just our usual weekly outings! Nothing else is currently planned, but perhaps in the future!
A note from Leigh Stapleton, a volunteer in PACK: "The demographics of the group is wide and deep. Young and old, men and women, professionals and students, retired and self-employed. It’s funny, I was remarking with another PACK member recently that I don’t know much about the professions of many of my fellow PACKsters. Unlike in other areas of DC where everyone wants to know and be known by what they do – this group, while very accomplished in their own lives – is there for the benefit of the dogs."