Kitty cats painted by pupils at Williamstown Elementary School will be part of a display for the Humane Race. Christa Abel of Bark N' Cat said the Williamstown community has been supportive of the benefit race.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The annual Humane Race scheduled for this Saturday has been raising critical funds for the Berkshire Humane Society for 14 years.
Hundreds of dogs (and owners) take off each year from Water Street for a fun run and walk and that ends at the finish line on Spring Street.
It's a great time for people and their pets to get fresh air, meet friends and have fun.
"People love it because people love to run and walk with their dogs," said Christa Abel, owner of Bark N' Cat in North Adams and chairman of the race for the past several years. "And people who don't have dogs, like to see them."
But the race's goal is really to support Berkshire Humane Society's efforts to aid homeless animals.
"I think what a lot of people don't realize is that the Berkshire Humane Society is completely dependent on donations to operate," Abel said. "It's all run by fund raising.
"Last year, we raised more than $10,000."
The Pittsfield shelter offers adoptions of cats, dogs and small animals; it also funds low-cost spay/neuter programs, microchipping, health care for homeless animals, workshops and educational programs, a pet-food bank and more. It operates its main center on Barker Road in Pittsfield and a cats-only shelter, Purradise, in Great Barrington.
Abel said people may know the shelter but don't realize the many efforts by the Humane Society in Berkshire County.
Executive Director John Perreault, in a statement, said the race has become an important event for the welfare of all its shelter animals.
"To date, we have raised over $140,000," he said. "That means more animals receiving the care they need, more animals being spayed and neutered, and more animals finding the homes they deserve."
The race has grown since it moved to downtown Williamstown after many years at Mount Greylock Regional High School. Abel thought the relocation to a more central area raise more awareness of the event and made it more accessible.
Williamstown, and its many dog owners, have been very welcoming, she said, with business owners and residents providing a lot of support for the race.
"The local businesses have been great," she said. "That whole community comes together for the event.
"It's like the perfect place to run our North County fund raiser. ... And who doesn't like the Berkshire Humane Society?"
The race is a 5-kilometer fun run or Dog Jog and a 1 mile walk. A dog not required to participate.
Registration begins at 8 a.m. by Water Street Books; the race starts at 10 a.m. Cost is $20 for adults; $15 for those age 13 and younger. Cost the day of the race is $25.
Participants are encouraged to sign up on the website and the first 150 signers will get a free T-shirt. Forms are also available at Greylock Animal Hospital, Bark N' Cat, or Berkshire Humane Society.
Participants can also raise additional money for BHS and be eligible for special prizes. For each $100 raised is a raffle ticket for three different pledge prizes valued at a minimum of $100. They include gift certificates to Hops & Vines and NoCo Pastaria; Amanda Jones' new book, "Dog Years," and a gift basket from Dog Studio; and a digital portrait of your pet by Sheri Riddell.
This year's Title Sponsors are Greylock Animal Hospital and Donovan & O'Connor, and its Platinum Sponsors are Orthopaedic Associates of Northern Berkshire, Gallivan Corp., West Oil Co., The Berkshire Eagle and Bella Baby.
The bottom of Spring Street will be closed for a couple hours for music, refreshments, games, canine contests, and the awarding of pledge prizes. There will also be "pool time" for pooped pups and massages for owners.
"It's extremely important to me to support Berkshire Humane Society," Abel said. "They are a vital and unique resource in this county because they operate at all levels to prevent homeless pets."
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