Tampa cross country team helping dogs find homes

High School Sports

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The boys cross country team at George M. Steinbrenner High School follows a simple philosophy composed of three words: gentleman, scholar, athlete.

The first category is met with community service. In an effort to fulfill that category, the team meets at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay around 6:45 a.m. every weekday during the summer. They choose their running buddies and, then, they drive to the trail at Al Lopez Park.

“I remember that this is bigger than me, this is bigger than us as a team,” said Zach Harrigan, a junior on the cross country team. “We are affecting these dogs and we are more importantly impacting the community.”

The team has partnered with the humane society for the past three years. They run with the dogs over the summer and over holiday breaks. The goal is to introduce them to a normal routine.

“This is Baba,” Harrigan said as he glanced at the large dog stretched out at his feet. “Baba, I believe is 3 or 4 years old and we have been running with Baba for one week or two weeks now. I feel like we are kind of training them.”

Theses high school runners “train them” and, afterward, they pound miles and miles of pavement at practice. Their dedication to these dogs is admirable.

“After the dogs run with us and they come back,” said PJ Foreman, a senior on the team, “they understand what we do, I think, and they almost kind of run with us and work with us. Some of them are so filled with joy and energy so to take them out here it is really, really good for their health.”

“When we run with them, we tire them out,” added Harrigan. “Some people, when they walk in and see them jumping around and barking, they kind of shy away from them. We get all of their little nerves out I like to think, then, they really shine in the humane society.”

Glen Hatchell, an animal trainer at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, told 8 On Your Side’s Gabrielle Shirley the program is one of several key enrichment programs responsible for helping these dogs to find new families.

“My favorite part,” said Harrigan, “honestly, is just the fact knowing that the dogs are getting adopted and that it is really making an impact. Some things that you do community service wise you cannot always see the impact but we clearly see the impact. The dogs get adopted which is the best thing.”

Hatchell also said the program with the cross country team sparked another similar program. You are able to volunteer to walk the dogs on Saturday mornings. If you would like to become a volunteer, you can find the information on the Humane Society of Tampa Bay website.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Clear The Shelters

Shelters near you


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Thousands of pets are looking for their forever homes and News Channel 8 is On Your Side helping to make that happen in the Tampa Bay area.

We are teaming up with hundreds of shelters across the country to host Clear the Shelters, a nationwide pet adoption drive from Aug. 1 through Aug. 31, featuring virtual pet adoptions to make it easy for people to donate online to participating shelters and rescues.

More than 150,000 pets found their forever homes since 2015 and we want to add to the number.

Find a shelter near you:

  • Pasco County Animal Services, 19640 Dogpatch Lane, Land O'Lakes
  • Paw Warriors, Inc., 355 Spring Time Street, Spring Hill
  • Pinellas County Animal Services, 12450 Ulmerton Road, Largo
  • Cat Haven Rescue, Inc, 1231 Bruce B. Downs Blvd, Wesley Chapel
  • Cat Haven Rescue, Inc - Pasco, 8529 Little Road, New Port Richey
  • SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Ave N, Largo
  • Bishop Animal Shelter SPCA of Manatee County, 5718 21st Ave West, Bradenton
  • Hernando County Animal Services, 19450 Oliver Street, Brooksville
  • SPCA Florida, 5850 Brannen Rd S, Lakeland
  • Barking Out Loud Rescues, Inc, 300 N Lake Drive, Lorida
  • Precious Paws Rescue, Inc., Citrus County Florida, 5164 S. Florida Avenue, Inverness
  • Humane Society of Pinellas, 3040 State Road 590, Clearwater
  • Hernando County SPCA, 9075 Grant St, Brooksville
  • St Francis Society, PO Box 261614, Tampa
  • Humane Society of Tampa Bay, 3607 N Armenia Avenue, Tampa
  • Rebels Rescue, Petco 136 S. West shore Blvd, Tampa
  • SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  • Friends of Strays Animal Shelter, 2911 47th Avenue North, St. Petersburg
  • Florida English Bulldog Rescue, P.O. Box 754, Odessa
  • The Humane Society of Polk County, Inc, 3195 Dundee Rd, Winter Haven
  • The Humane Society of Sarasota County, 2331 15th Street, Sarasota
  • Hands Helping Paws Rescue Inc., 53 W Bay Blvd S, Lake Wales
  • Humane Society of Manatee County, 2515 14th Avenue W, Bradenton
  • Highlands County Sheriffs Animal Services, 7300 Haywood Taylor Blvd, Sebring
  • Manatee County Animal Services, 305 25th St W, Palmetto
  • SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  • Citrus County Animal Services, 4030 S. Airport Rd, Inverness
  • St Francis Society, PO Box 261614, Tampa
  • FLUFF Animal Rescue, 9400 SEMINOLE BOULEVARD, SEMINOLE
  • SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Ave N, Largo
  • Polk County Sheriff's Office Animal Control, 7115 De Castro Rd, Winter Haven
  • The Greener Side Haven, Inc., 3892 N Lecanto Hwy, Beverly Hills
  • Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch, 26920 Gopher Hill Road, Myakka City
April 24 2021 08:00 am

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss