5K race benefits animals in need

Students and community members join UConn Paws and Claws to run a 5K, play with dogs and raise money for Big Fluffy Dog Rescue on March 25, 2017. The event raised $1,500 for the dog rescue. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

A new University of Connecticut club raised over $1,500 to help animals in need after holding a 5K race through campus on Saturday, March 25.

“I wanted to have a big event on campus to bring awareness to animals in need,” Paws and Claws president and eight-semester animal science student Heather Desroches said. “I figured putting two things together that a lot of people like, exercise and animals, would be a good way to go.”

Desroches said about 90 people pre-registered for the event, with a few more registering on the day of. Desroches said she hopes to make the Paws and Claws 5K an annual event.

“We received no financial support from UConn to put on this event,” Desroches said. “We received money from our sponsors, and from our own pockets.

Vice president and seventh-semester animal science student Catherine Cabano said the 5K promoted the Big Fluffy Dog Rescue and humane animal care in general.

The Big Fluffy Dog Rescue is based in Tennessee and regularly transports dogs up to Connecticut for adoption. Cabano said the Big Fluffy Dog Rescue is just one of the many organizations that simply wants to put dogs into good hands.

The other two organizations that Paws and Claws regularly helps are Our Companion and Pack Leaders Rescue.

Racers were a mix of students, friends, family, faculty and Paws and Claws members.

Mackenzie Lane, a senior at the Norwich Free Academy and an incoming freshman at UConn, said she ran in the race to support her brother who is in Paws and Claws.

“I’ve grown up with dogs and we always donate to the humane society,” Lane said. “I wanted to help with my brother’s efforts.”

Emily Curina, a second-semester business management student, said she heard about the club at the spring involvement fair.

“I love animals. I figured volunteering at a shelter was a good way to spend the weekend,” Curina said. “What could be better than currently being surrounded by at least 15 dogs?”

Racers and their families brought their dogs to the event. There were huskies, sheepdogs, labradors, retrievers, pugs and many more. UConn’s favorite dog, Jonathan, also made a notable appearance.

First place finishers were Kevin Fitzgerald, Ryan Shiring and Syed Asar.

Both Desroches and Cabano said they were surprised that there was not an existing club on campus to help animals. While the pre-vet club is intended for students on the pre-vet track, Paws and Claws is open to all majors, even those not interested in being a veterinarian. 

UConn Paws and Claws meets biweekly on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in Rowe 122.


Claire Galvin is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at claire.galvin@uconn.edu.