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University Professor Awarded for Decade-Old Dog Walking Class


An East Carolina University professor was honored with a service award for her impactful, decade-old fitness walking course for dogs, ECU News Services reports.

It’s now been ten years since Professor Melanie Sartore-Baldwin — with the help of other professionals — implemented the course. Over the years, dogs at the Pitt County Animal Shelter have benefited from fitness walks led by Sartore-Baldwin. Other ECU students and volunteers also walk the dogs.

This combined effort has largely contributed to the course’s overall success. 

“Those who are invested are really invested,” Sartore-Baldwin shared. “Without these students and without these volunteers, these dogs would not get the mile or two walk they get on a daily basis, which is so incredibly important for enrichment and their mental health and physical health.”  

Sartore-Baldwin — who received the award in Dec. 2023 during a meeting held by the Pitt County Board of Commissioners — said she started the course in 2014 with a small group of students. A decade later, she sees about 20 students per semester enrolling for the course.    

According to the professor, the course has also been of great help to students as far as assisting them in keeping fit is concerned. She stated, “We did one study that students were getting upwards of 4,000 steps before 10 a.m.”

Shelter director commends professor for impactful dog-walking class

Chad Singleton is the director of the Pitt County Animal Shelter. He was present when the Board of Commissioners honored Sartore-Baldwin with the award. 

Singleton shared he knows of “no one more deserving for this award.” He further stated, “We truly consider her part of our team and know we can depend on her to spread our message, help us educate the community and recruit volunteers who last long after the semester is over.”

Concluding, an impressed Singleton shared: “Because of all her efforts and countless hours of service, Melanie has earned not only this award, but also the respect and gratitude of all those who work and volunteer at the Pitt County Animal Shelter.”

Professor Sartore-Baldwin said she’s proud that there are former ECU students who still visit the shelter to walk the canines despite having other commitments.

“I’m very grateful that there are students going out into their everyday lives, after they graduate, who have taken this class and they are advocates for sheltering animals,” she stated. “That is my biggest takeaway, and that is going to happen for years to come.”


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