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Friday, December 02, 2022

Dog owners, pets race through Gainesville for veterans

<p><span id="docs-internal-guid-e7a08a44-b41c-2588-6717-05dbfc750f9a"><span>Pez, a 5-year-old Pembroke Welsh corgi, looks up at attendees of the first Pup Ruck 5k at Depot Park on Sunday. The event was held to raise money for the Pets and Patriots Foundation, which helps veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder acquire service dogs.</span></span></p>

Pez, a 5-year-old Pembroke Welsh corgi, looks up at attendees of the first Pup Ruck 5k at Depot Park on Sunday. The event was held to raise money for the Pets and Patriots Foundation, which helps veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder acquire service dogs.

Pet owners gathered to race and raise money for veterans who need service dogs.

Close to 100 participants raced in the first Pup Ruck 5k Sunday afternoon from Depot Park, located at 200 SE Depot Ave., to West University Avenue and back.

The goal of the event was to raise $5,000 for the Pets and Patriots Foundation, which provides veterans with service dogs in a short waiting time period, said Michelle Dunlap, the foundation’s executive director and founder.

“The average waiting time for a service dog is two years,” she said. “Pets and Patriots Foundation aims to lower that to two weeks.”

Dunlap said research has shown veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder can be greatly advantaged by the companionship of a service dog.

Judy Johnson, a volunteer at the event, has family members in  the military.

“It’s definitely a worthwhile organization,” she said.

Participants and their dogs walked or ran during the race. Some attendees had their smaller dogs in strollers.

Kristina von Castel, a UF nutrition professor, walked with two of her dogs: Bear, a lab mix, and Liza, a hound mix.

“I think it’s a good event to support our veterans, support rescuing animals and pairing individuals with animals that can help one another,” the 42-year-old said. “That’s what community is all about.”

Pez, a 5-year-old Pembroke Welsh corgi, looks up at attendees of the first Pup Ruck 5k at Depot Park on Sunday. The event was held to raise money for the Pets and Patriots Foundation, which helps veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder acquire service dogs.

Racers wait for their time to start at the Pup Ruck 5k at Depot Park on Sunday. About 100 racers were in attendance, and the goal was to raise $5,000.

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