H.E.A.R.T. to host annual Walk ‘N’ Wag Dog Walk for first time at Waukon City Park May 4

Walk ‘N’ Wag Dog Walk to be held for first time at Waukon City Park ... Area residents and their pets are pictured above walking in a previous Walk ‘N’ Wag Dog Walk hosted annually by H.E.A.R.T. (Helping Every Animal Rescue Team) as a fund raising event for the animal rescue organization. The 3rd Annual Walk ‘N’ Wag event is scheduled to be held for the first time ever at Waukon City Park Saturday, May 4, beginning with a 9 a.m. registration. Submitted photo.

by Brianne Eilers

H.E.A.R.T. (Helping Every Animal Rescue Team), along with many sponsors, will be hosting its 3rd Annual Walk ‘N’ Wag Dog Walk event Saturday, May 4 at the Waukon City Park. This is the first year the event has been held in Waukon, and it is being held in Waukon to further promote the growth of foster homes and volunteers in the local area in support of the program.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. at the Jaycees shelter adjacent to the ball diamond in the southeast corner of the park and the walk begins at 10 a.m. There is a dog registration fee of five dollars, and the walker’s name will be entered into a drawing for door prizes.

Proceeds from the walk will go towards a minivan (Care-a-van) to be used to transport animals to vet appointments, foster homes or wherever they need to go. According to H.E.A.R.T. Records Management Director Katie Houlihan, the group’s volunteers logged an estimated 14,000 miles in 2018 using personal vehicles to transport animals or assist with lost dogs and other animal related issues.

Houlihan explains that the H.E.A.R.T. organization is a 501(c)3 nonprofit “team of dedicated animal lovers that just want the best for the animals.” They are a foster-based rescue that relies solely on donations, fundraisers and adoption fees.

“What is unique about us is that not only are the foster animals in our homes and part of our families, but the volunteers with H.E.A.R.T. are also one big family as well,” notes Houlihan. H.E.A.R.T. is always looking for volunteers to help with fostering animals, events and transportation of animals.

H.E.A.R.T. has been in existence since 2016 and serves northeast Iowa, southeast Minnesota and southwest Wisconsin. The group mainly works with domesticated dogs and cats, but Houlihan says if a foster home is available, they would also take other animals such as rabbits. The animals they help come from many situations, including owner surrenders, puppy mill surrenders, hoarding situations, seized animals and the occasional stray that’s been picked up.

Their goal is to make sure the animals that have been taken in by H.E.A.R.T. receive the best care that they possibly can. That includes veterinary care and care in the foster homes, including training. They also work hard to make sure that animals that are going to be adopted out are going to a home that is the best fit possible for everyone involved.

“H.E.A.R.T. goes above and beyond for each animal and their health and happiness once they get adopted,” says Houlihan.

As mentioned earlier, this is the third year for the Walk ‘N’ Wag Dog Walk. In previous years, the funds raised have been put into H.E.A.R.T.’s general fund in order to help cover veterinary costs for the animals.

The walk will be along the Waukon City Park trail system. Registration for the walk begins at 9 a.m. with the walk beginning at 10 a.m. Lunch will be available from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

In addition to the walk, a veterinary technician from Critters & Such Pet Care, a vet clinic and animal hospital located in the Decorah area, will be there to microchip dogs from 9-10 a.m. and from 11 a.m.-12 noon. There is a fee for that service but that service does not require registration for the walk. While not a tracking device, microchipping can greatly increase the chances of a lost pet being returned home. The cost includes having H.E.A.R.T. register the animal’s microchip.

Those seeking more information on H.E.A.R.T. or who may be interested in volunteering, fostering or donating can email H.E.A.R.T. at heartrescue2016@gmail.com or visit their social media presence found under HEART Helping Every Animal Rescue Team. They also have a website that can be found at www.heartrescueteam.com.

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