Animal Humane Society's 'Walk for Animals' will go on but from a distance

This is the time of year when, normally, 5Ks, marathons, and walking events flood the streets across the metro. That includes the Animal Humane Society's largest annual fundraiser, the Walk for Animals.

This year, however, the yearly fundraiser will go on but will look a lot different.

"The festive atmosphere," said Brad Chmielewski. "Lots of dogs, cats, bunnies. We've even seen interesting turtles even."

For more than a decade, Brad Chmielewski and his wife Debbie have participated in the Animal Humane Society's biggest fundraiser of the year. But for the Chmielewskis and their Doberman Loubi, this year's Walk for Animals will be no walk in the park.

"I was happy that they did that versus cancelling altogether," said Debbie. "I was really concerned that that was going to happen."

Instead of more than 9,000 people gathering at the Humane Society's Golden Valley shelter for a two-mile trek, in this time of social distancing and stay at home orders, the organization will hold its first-ever virtual walk for animals this weekend.

The Humane Society is asking people to take their pet for a walk in their neighborhood at 10 a.m. Saturday morning, snap a picture and post it on social media using the hashtags #StillWalking and #WalkForAanimals.

"We will still be walking together even though we are physically apart," said Zoe Clarke with the Humane Society. "We're all going to be doing the same thing in the same moment for the same great cause."

Brad works on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic as a doctor in the intensive care unit at a local hospital. But he doesn't mind spending some of his free time to help abandoned animals find good homes because it's a cause close to his heart.

"Especially with people being scared and the isolation people are feeling," he said. "A pet is a wonderful companion right now and anything we can do to help the Humane Society foster that relationship with families and pets, it needs to be done."

The Chmielewskis have raised about $4,400 for Loubi's favorite day of the year. They hope by walking separately, animal lovers will be able to stand together to help dogs and cats in need.

If you'd like to donate or participate, you can visit the Animal Humane Society's website for more information.