Heart to Heart Pet-a-Rama is a two-mile fun walk held each spring in Phoenix's Steele Park to raise money for the Animal Heart Center at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Walkers and their dogs raise money through entrance fees and by signing up sponsors. The benefit also helps homeless animals find families by hosting PACC 911, an animal adoption agency that brings people together with animals available for adoption during the Pet-a-Rama.
This year’s walk is on Sunday, Feb. 14, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., with the walk beginning at 9 a.m. Participants also have the opportunity to visit pet-related booths and see pet performance troops, including disc dogs and the Great Dane Drill Team, as well as adoptable pets from local human organizations.
The Heart to Heart Pet-a-Rama began in 2005, three years after Lois Arnold’s dog Carmel was treated for a heart condition by Dr. Chris Orton, Director of the Animal Heart Center, and the cardiac surgery team at Colorado State University. Arnold wrote a book about her and Carmel’s experience, “What Do You Mean, She’s Just a Dog?” and she set about to create one of the nation’s largest fundraising walks for research and treatment of animal heart disease.
Funds raised from Heart to Heart have made an immediate and lasting impact on the Animal Heart Center. The funds have been used to purchase needed equipment for the center’s research facility and, in 2008, using Heart to Heart funds, the center was able to hire a research scientist to spearhead investigations into proteomics, the protein partner to genomics.
Today, the Animal Heart Center focuses its research on degenerative mitral valve disease. Degenerative mitral valve disease is the cause of 40 percent of heart diseases in dogs, with heart disease overall being the second leading cause of disease deaths in dogs. Mitral valve disease also is an important problem in humans with current treatments less than ideal. Part of what Heart to Heart funding helps support is research that will improve treatments in dogs, treatment advances that may one day be used to improve heart care for people.
To learn more about the Heart to Heart Pet-a-Rama, visit their web site at www.hearttoheartpetarama.com.