By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
BREVARD -- With the holiday season in full swing, staying fit, while still enjoying all of the delicious treats, is a goal many people have. But did you know that it's also important for your beloved pooch to maintain its weight?
Four years ago, veterinarians Dr. Paul and Dr. Jennifer Sikoski established the Bayfront 5K9, a dog-friendly 5K run and walk at the Palm Bay Animal Clinic, to promote fighting pet obesity and saving homeless pets.
"As veterinarians, my husband and I treat diseases in our patients every day that are the result of being overweight, like diabetes and arthritis," Dr. Sikoski said. "We wanted to create a fun way to help people and their pets get fit together."
On Sunday, Dec. 15, the Palm Bay Animal Clinic will host the fourth annual Bayfront 5K9 at 8 a.m. There will also be a free Kids Run, as well as the Swift Paws Lure Chase Course from 9 a.m.to noon.
Registration is currently open and will run until 7:45 a.m. on race day.
The cost to participate in the 5K run and walk is $25 in advance and $30 on race day. Teams of five or more, which must include men and women, cost $23 for registration. The Swift Paws Lure Chase Course, which is optional, is $10 to participate.
Net proceeds from the Bayfront 5K9 will benefit the Brevard County Animal Shelter.
"Both Palm Bay Animal Clinic and our sister location, Clearlake Animal Hospital, provide discounted veterinary services to Brevard County Animal Shelters and various animal rescue groups they work with," Dr. Sikoski said. "Through this relationship, we recognized that our county shelters are in constant need of financial support to keep up with the constant influx of animals they care for."
Dr. Sikoski added that in the last three years, the Bayfront 5K9 has donated more than $15,000 to improving the lives of the animals at the North and South Animal Care Centers and help improve their chances of being adopted.
"The event will start and finish at Palm Bay Animal Clinic," Dr. Sikoski said. "There will be a post-race party, with free food and drinks for participants, as well as awards, raffles and adoptable dogs."
Dr. Sikoski added that the top three overall runners, as well as the top runners in their age groups, will be awarded following the race. There will even be special awards for the top three dogs in three weight classes -- small, medium and large.
New this year to the Bayfront 5K9 is the Swift Paws Lure Chase Course.
"Swift Paws Lure Chasing is an exciting and fun way to give your dog exercise and enrichment, with no training necessary," Dr. Sikoski said. "Dogs get to chase a fake squirrel -- usually just a plastic bag or toys -- around a field. Everyone is welcomed to let their dog give it a try."
Promising to be a great time for people of all ages and their dogs, the Bayfront 5K9 also gives back, while promoting human and animal health.
"It will be an exciting opportunity for people to get out with their beloved pets, get some exercise and raise money for the homeless pets of our community," Dr. Sikoski said. "Solo or team runners and walkers, with or without dogs, will be welcome for some friendly competition or just a day to get out and play."
Palm Bay Animal Clinic will host the fourth annual Bayfront 5K9 on Sunday, Dec. 15 at 8 a.m.
Registration is $25 in advance, and $30 on race day. The Kids Run is free.
The Swift Paws Lure Chase Course is option and costs $10.
Palm Bay Animal Clinic is located at 3970 Dixie Hwy. N.E., Palm Bay.
To register online, visit http://secure.runningzone.com/bayfront5k9/.
For more information, contact Palm Bay Animal Clinic at (321) 725-4609 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.