Tailwaggers 5K fundraises for animals in need

7.6 million animals each year in the United States enter an animal shelter.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) website, approximately 2.7 million of those are not returned to their owners or adopted and have to be euthanized.

Tailwaggers Incorporated aims to significantly decrease the number of animals that are euthanized in shelters in Northwest Arkansas by educating the public on the benefits of neutering and spaying their animals and holding a 5K run to help support their cause.

Tina Berrios, now president, started Tailwaggers 10 years ago.

“When I first moved here from LA 10 years ago I was a big city girl.” Berrios said.

“I wasn’t used to seeing animals on the streets. I was constantly seeing animals running the street.”

She quickly recognized that one of the problems was that the animals were not spayed or neutered. By spaying and neutering pets the population of animals on the street could be controlled. When Tailwaggers first started the shelters where euthanizing 65 percent of the animals. Now, 10 years later, shelters only have to euthanize 16 percent.

Getting into the animal shelters was the first step Berrios took to remedy the problem.

“Once I got the public in the shelters, people came out of the woodworks to help,” Berrios said, “The organization blossomed into something I never dreamed of.”

Tailwaggers also pays for medical treatment for animals, adoption fees and the transport of animals from one state to the next. “One time a man was murdered, and he left behind four pit bulls that were in bad shape. So we had medical work done for all of them and got them into good homes.”

Paying for adoption fees and transportation for future pets becomes pretty expensive. To pay for these expenses, and many more, the Tailwaggers organization sponsors a 5K Run or 1 Mile Walk each year.

The event has been taking place for the past four years at Bob Henry Park. Running is not the only activity Berrios says will be happening.

“We try to make it like a big party! There’s a bounce house for kids, there will be a granola bar this year, hamburgers, and we will be giving away 57 prizes. Each year we get a little better.”

Peggy Wolken, a faculty member of the JBU community, is a current volunteer of Tailwaggers. Wolken said the experience for her was more than what she could have imagined.

“What I found was I was the one being blessed each Saturday when I went to walk the dogs.,” Wolken said.

“I was the one who looked forward to and was happy to see each and every dog there. They became a huge blessing in my life.”

“The beautiful thing about animals is they love unconditionally. They have so much love to give and when they see you there to take them for a walk all they feel is genuine happiness,” Wolken said.

Tailwaggers will be holding their fourth Annual 5K Run/1Mile Walk Saturday September 27 at Bob Henry at 9 a.m. To get involved a student can register as a runner or walker, or students can sign up to volunteer.