Who let the dogs out? Apparently West Ranch’s cross country team  

Photo by Casey Gagnon/For The Signal

Students and coaches from West Ranch High School’s cross country team decided that dogs cooped up at the Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control – Castaic Care Center should spend their Sunday outside running — and so they did.  

The event was organized by Karen Cirricione, a special education teacher and co-coach of the track and field team. Cirricione said she got the idea for it after seeing a similar event being done in Florida. She thought it was the perfect way to combine both of her passions — running and dogs.  

With news of local animal shelters being overcrowded, Cirricione thought it would be a good idea to both teach her athletes about doing something without expecting anything in return and would benefit dogs who would love a good run and a temporary reprieve from a cage.  

Elizabeth Chaidez pets one of the dogs from the Castaic Animal Shelter on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023. Photo by Casey Gagnon/For The Signal

“I keep going back to the word magical because that’s the vibe of it,” said Cirricione. “It just felt so overwhelming in a really positive way, smiles on everyone’s faces, and with COVID, you know, just to see (the dogs) happy and out with their tails wagging, excited to go for a run… it was just an awesome feeling.” 

Cirricione said the Castaic shelter is very good about getting the dogs out of the cages, but that it was very rare for them to go on a run, and even more rare to go on a run with trained athletes.  

Around 20 West Ranch cross country runners participated in the run and the team even brought donations of supplies, treats and paw boots for the dogs that were given to them by students, staff, faculty and families.  

Amelia Barnes pets one of dogs from the Castaic Animal Shelter Photo by Casey Gagnon/For The Signal

Cirricione said the students’ dedication to the event was admirable, particularly because they had just had a competition the previous day.  

“It was the day after a meet so, we asked a lot of them to get up early and then meet up at the shelter and run again after one of their big races,” said Cirricione.  

The event’s organizers hope to have the event held semi-regularly with a larger goal of trying to get as many of the dogs in the shelter adopted. After the race, pictures were taken with the dogs and spread over social media — all in the hope it will help them get adopted.  

“I would love to see that happen so that more kids get to benefit from this feeling of helping others and more animals can get seen, and get the socialization they need in hopes of helping with adoption,” said Cirricione. “That’s a big picture.” 

Cirricione wanted to make sure to credit the co-organizer of the event, Kate Povletich, for the help she provided.    

Photo by Casey Gagnon/For The Signal
Austin Duenas runs with one of the dogs from the Castaic Animal Shelter on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023. Courtesy Photo

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