Wagging tails, panting mouths, slobbery tongues… dogs were all around… just happy to be outside on such a beautiful fall morning. But the best and most exciting part of being outside was still to come. It was the 2nd Annual Big Lick Vet “Tails and Trails” 5K and one mile walk. The race was held on Saturday, November 3 at North Cross School’s Cross Country Course. Dogs from all around Roanoke actually ran with their masters, not something typically allowed at races. In fact, it is the first of its kind in the region and had over 100 participants!
The race was sponsored by Big Lick Veterinary Services, a veterinarian clinic located on Bent Mountain Road in Roanoke County, and all proceeds went to benefit the Virginia Canine Recovery Team or VCRT. The Virginia Canine Recovery Team is a volunteer team that works with federal, state, local, and volunteer groups. Their primary mission is to find missing loved ones and reunite them with their families. They also serve as a first responder team in national and local disasters and supply missing person agencies and law enforcement with specialty trained dog teams. These dog teams do such things as finding people in collapsed buildings and helping to investigate missing person and homicide cases. Big Lick Veterinary Services is particularly committed to helping the mission of the VCRT because two of their canine patients are on the search and rescue team. The dog’s handler is a close friend of the Harrington family whose daughter, Morgan Dana Harrington, was tragically abducted and murdered in October 2009.
Karen ReMine and Dr. Carol Gilbert, two members of The Virginia Canine Recovery Team train their dogs and search in memory of Morgan. Karen ReMine had her dogs: Savanna and Haley, at the event on November 3. Dr. Carol Gilbert had her dog Moki at the race as well. Both women are committed to the cause and work tirelessly to continue it. But they always need more volunteers; in particular, they need volunteers for canine handlers, field support as well as operations. For canine volunteers, the VCRT will provide three months of free obedience classes to the canine and the handler. You can read more about the VCRT on their website: www.virginiarecoverydogs.com or by calling 540-521-6638 or 540-520-4365.
This is the second year that Big Lick Veterinary Services has coordinated the 5K for the Virginia Canine Recovery Team. This year, they raised over $6,000 for the cause. All the money will go to the VCRT and will provide private training scenarios, and help to support the team during travel on their missions.
Many businesses and non-profits got involved in helping with this race including US Foods who donated hot dogs and hamburgers, Pfizer who donated money and grilled the food, Kroger who donated cakes and other delicious treats, Tuck Chiropractic, and Help Save the Next Girl. From Help Save the Next Girl’s website, their mission is to “empower young women and encourage community vigilance.” This campaign was established by Dan and Gil Harrington after Morgan was abducted. You can read more about their mission at www.helpsavethenextgirl.com.
The beautiful morning turned into a beautiful afternoon as the race ended and the runners gathered to eat a well-deserved lunch on the grass. The dogs rested and the children ran around playing tag. It was an idyllic fall day and as the sun shone down on the shiny medals awaiting their recipients, the scores were tallied and the winners announced. There was a winner for the overall race and a winner for the fastest runner with a dog… the children won, the adults won, the dogs won but I like to think that everyone was a winner that day. Everyone was there to run or walk in support of a cause which is so important and which is all too often forgotten in our busy and hectic lives… they were there so that others who are missing may be found.