Humane society

Mason City High School cross country team members from left, Makayla Percy, Sami Haberman and Morgan Wendel run with Pinky the dog on Thursday.

MASON CITY | About a dozen unlikely members -- some of whom go by the names of Crash, Xena and Pinky -- joined the Mohawk cross country team Thursday morning. 

They and a few other energetic canines -- all available for adoption at the Humane Society of North Iowa -- began to scramble in excitement when they realized pairs and trios of Mason City High School runners would be taking them along on their 30-minute workout. 

Tyler Ketelsen, head boys/girls cross country coach, said he was inspired by the viral video of St. Joseph High School cross country runners exercising Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter dogs earlier this summer in California. 

The event came together with some nudging from Ketelsen's wife, Lisa, and the support of Humane Society staff. Ketelsen hopes it will become an annual tradition. 

"We're always looking for community service projects and new ways to give back," Ketelsen said. "We regularly run by the shelter so we thought we might as well pick up a few dogs."

At least two-thirds of the team have volunteered at the shelter, including senior Kyle Younker. 

"It's awesome for us to do something like this," said Younker, 17. 

Senior Abbie Read said having a canine companion makes her workout more enjoyable. 

"It makes running more fun and takes my mind off the hard part," said Read, 17. 

The Humane Society of North Iowa relies on volunteers like the cross country team to exercise and provide social interaction for its dogs, according to Executive director Sybil Soukup.

The shelter has 34 canines waiting for new homes. 

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