SPEEDWAY — For one day this Saturday, what’s racing around the track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be fueled by Kibbles ‘n Bits rather than gasoline.
The Mutt Strut is back, celebrating a decade of success that allows patrons with or without dogs to come to the track and walk a lap around it with thousands of their furry friends.
The gates to IMS will open at 9:30 a.m. April 27 and opening ceremonies will begin at 10:45 a.m. The track will then be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for walkers on two or four legs.
In addition to it being a well attended event, typically drawing between 6,000 and 10,000 people, it also is the bell cow fundraiser for the Humane Society of Indianapolis (HSI). John Aleshire, chief executive officer of the HSI, said that it often draws in around $400,000 in much-needed funding.
“This is our most important and signature special event of the year.” he said. “It’s a party, and a great way to celebrate with your pets. But you don’t have to have a dog. You can come for the fitness aspect of it. It’s very family-friendly, and you get to walk around the most famous real estate in our city, if not the entire racing world.”
Each year the organization cares for more than 6,000 animals bereft of any attachment to a national group. They are independent and Mutt Strut fundraising is vital to the organization as they receive no public, private, or government funding. On top of that, Aleshire said that pets needing homes is not an issue that’s going away anytime soon.
“Funding is truly a challenge,” he explained. “Indianapolis has a pet overpopulation problem. There are certain areas of the city where there are lots and lots of animals needing homes.
“This event helps us carry on programs for animal wellness, rehabilitation, for the care and well-being of our animals, and all of our work in adoptions and things of that sort. We do not put any animal down here for time, space, or length of stay. That’s our commitment to the animals.”
Aleshire said the Mutt Strut’s success in a decade has been tremendous.
“Honestly, we thought we kind of had a winner on our hands at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” he said. “We knew it was a great thing, but I don’t think any of us quite anticipated that it’d grow into what it’s becoming now.”
In addition to being able to walk the track, there will be live entertainment, a host of vendors, and even a pet psychic. Aleshire also said that it’s a great opportunity for people to learn about some of the programs the HSI offers.
“We have a low-cost vaccination clinic that’s open to the public,” he said, noting a service that many people do not know about. “They can go to the website at www.indyhumane.org to get all the hours, but they can have their pets vaccinated, and buy products at a lower cost and help support our mission. I think people are surprised to know the size and scope of what we do.”
With that, he hopes this year’s Mutt Strut will mimic the success of the past ones.
“You’re going to help homeless animals and make their lives fulfilled and help us find homes for them. Plus, you’re going to have a lot of fun,” he promised.
Online registration for the event ends at 12:01 a.m. April 24 but participants can register the day of the event. Full details are available online at www.indymuttstrut.org.
Just the facts
WHAT: Mutt Strut
WHEN: Gates open at 9:30 a.m. April 27
WHERE: Indianapolis Motor Speedway