KANSAS CITY — For more than 30 bulldogs in attendance at the inaugural Running of the Bull(dogs) Sunday, Nov. 10, life is no longer ruff ... no longer rough. Most of the dogs are rescues placed with their “furever” homes thanks to Kansas City English Bulldog Rescue.

Organized by Liberty resident Shannon Smith, director of public relations, and her friend Tammi Watkins, the event took place at the Bar K Dog Bar and Petfinder Park, 501 Berkley Parkway.

Smith adopted her bonded pair of bulldogs Nola and SweetPea in April 2016. She and her husband Daniel Smith became volunteers later that year. Shannon then took over as a director in 2017. Five directors cover the metropolitan community to help facilitate adoption and other aid.

“We are here to bring about awareness and to educate the public about the bulldog breed,” she said. “When they are puppies, they have these squishy faces, but then they grow up and definitely change. We are all volunteers who love this breed.”

The group marked its 198th and 199th adoptions around July 4th and bear the names Honor and Glory, she said.

Daniel said the couple moved from New Mexico for their jobs in Kearney.

“Shannon jumped headfirst into this,” he said. “We have our two and then Shannon took her dad Tom to Kansas to rescue Teddy. He was not in great shape, but Tom fell in love. Now he’s a big dog living a big life.”

Shannon said the rescue group has donated $95,000 in medical costs for the dogs.

“We love what we do,” she said.

Rob Johnson and his wife Lisa Johnson have Tucker, a 67-pound bulldog.

“We have done it all — babysitting, fostering, adopting,” Rob said at the Sunday event.

During the running, which was set up on a patio area of the dog park, Dasher, an almost 2-year-old bulldog owned by Dustin and Shelley Wheeler of Smithville, placed first in his run.

“He’s a rescue,” Dustin said. “He likes to run. I knew we would come out here to support the rescue group.”

Shelley held onto the leash of Bubbles, another bulldog.

“We appreciate what they are doing,” she said.

Shannon said the group has placed bulldogs in homes across the Northland.

“We raised $1,400 from this inaugural event,” she said, “and people are already asking when next year’s run will be.”

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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