Animal advocate spreads message

August 28, 2013 10:20 am

One woman is taking her straightforward message around the country 

While animal shelters across the country help their furry friends find forever homes, one animal advocate is leaving her home behind for dogs.

Debbie Sporcich, an animal shelter volunteer from Pasco, Wash., has hit the road in hopes of spreading a message: go walk shelter dogs.

The idea sparked when she volunteered at her local shelter only to realize that most of the dogs were confined to 4-by-7 foot kennels unless they were being walked — and there weren’t very many volunteers to walk them.

“I just know the animal shelter in Pasco isn’t the only one that needs walkers,” she said.

Sporcich is taking her message with her as she travels the country with her trailer and two shelter dogs. The trip is partly for sightseeing but also to get others to become walkers.

“This is my first stop,” she said Monday. “I hope there are many, many more.”

Sporcich plans to go toward the Painted Hills and Bend, though Bend has a large volunteer force. Then she hopes to head toward Boise, Idaho, south into Colorado and even to Minnesota.

She said she isn’t sure what she will find in terms of volunteer needs as she calls ahead to local shelters.

“I have a feeling it’ll be different,” she said.

Sporcich said walking dogs is important for shelters.

“(Dogs) want the human companionship. They’re learning manners and they’re becoming more adoptable,” she said.

For Blue Mountain Human Association Director John Brinlee, adoptability is important but exercise for the animals is necessary.

“We try to get them out once a day,” Brinlee said, though they sometimes get them out twice a day.

The shelter director said volunteers come out and staff tries to walk dogs when they can.

“We have some people who come out on a regular basis, which is amazing because you can count on them,” Brinlee said.

However, volunteers are not always steady.

“Life happens,” Brinlee said. “It (the volunteer force) fluctuates a lot.”

Brinlee said anyone who wants to volunteer as a dog walker is welcome to fill out a volunteer application, though those younger than 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The shelter has volunteer trainings that teach about the shelter and provide some safety instruction. 

But, Sporcich reminds, dog walking isn’t for everyone.

“This is for dog people,” she said. “It can get messy.”

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter @lgoDucote.