A beautiful sunny day greeted both two-legged and four-legged walkers at the annual Heart to Heart Pet-a-Rama, a two-mile fun walk held Feb. 14 in Phoenix's Steele Park to raise money to benefit the Animal Heart Center at Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
This year, 227 walkers and their pets raised $58,700, said Lois Arnold, the event’s coordinator and driving force behind the Heart to Heart Foundation. The event also helped 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, 47 dogs found their forever homes.
The Heart to Heart Pet-a-Rama began in 2005, three years after Arnold’s dog Carmel was treated for a heart condition by Dr. Chris Orton, Director of the Animal Heart Center, and the hospital’s cardiac surgery team. Arnold wrote a book about her and Carmel’s experience, “What Do You Mean, She’s Just a Dog?” and set out 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.
This will be the last year for the Heart to Heart Pet-a-Rama, though the Heart to Heart Foundation will continue its work, noted Arnold. A new event will take the place of the walk, with more details to come. For information about the Heart to Heart Foundation and its activities benefitting the Animal Heart Center, visit www.hearttoheartpetarama.com