The Humane Society of West Alabama and Tuscaloosa Track Club hosted the 17th Annual Canine Classic 5K on Saturday. The race is one of the Humane Society’s largest fundraisers each year.
The sun was still rising at 7 a.m. on Saturday, but “Hungry Like the Wolf,” playing from the Rock 106.3 truck, had people dancing as they poured into Kentuck Park in Northport.
Those early-risers were only getting warmed up. The 17th Annual Canine Classic 5K, hosted by the Humane Society of West Alabama in coordination with the Tuscaloosa Track Club, upheld a time-honored community tradition celebrating the spirit of competition and compassion.
“We have other fundraisers, but I’d say this is probably one of the top ones,” Betty Freeman, a Humane Society volunteer and board member, said.
Freeman said the Canine Classic raises an average of $6,000 for the Humane Society each year through runners’ registration fees, as well as sponsorships from Bryant Bank, Peco, Stripe and other local businesses.
“All of our money goes to veterinary care and running our cat adoption center and dog adoption center,” Freeman said. “Our veterinary bills are quite high because we do insist on spays, neuters and shots.”
The Canine Classic was also a certified race for the Tuscaloosa Track Club Grand Prix of West Alabama, which is a series of races each year, the results of which determine members’ yearly rankings.
Everyone was welcome; however, especially runners, walkers and, of course, dogs.
“This is one of my favorite races that’s on the calendar,” Michelle Robinson, race director and president of the Humane Society, said. “Even before I got involved with the Humane Society, I participated in this race for many years.”
In fact, Robinson was not the only familiar face at this year’s race. Husband and wife runners Dillon and Danielle Patterson were the overall men’s and overall women’s winners for the second year in a row. Dillon Patterson, a graduate student studying anthropology, completed the course in 19 minutes, 1 second, beating his previous winning time by 14 seconds.
Regardless of their finish time, all participants who crossed the finish line were congratulated with sniffs and licks from some of the Humane Society’s adoptable dogs. After the race, the Humane Society volunteers took time to feature each of the dogs, parading them through the crowd in bandanas reading “adopt me.”
“We can’t let you forget why we’re doing this,” Freeman said. “It’s all for the animals.”
Markie, a 1-year-old terrier and shepherd mix, elicited smiles and laughs from the audience as he jumped around, showing his teeth and wagging his tail.
“Of course it would be great if somebody saw a dog today and said, ‘Oh I love this dog,’” said Jackie Stewart, one of the founding members of the Humane Society. “We have applications here they can fill out.”
Stewart said there is an average of 20 dogs and 30 cats in the Humane Society’s care at any given time. Many of those animals have been transferred from Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter since the Humane Society is a no-kill shelter.
“The dogs are great,” said Jenna Reardanz, a Humane Society volunteer and graduate student studying psychology at The University of Alabama. “They’re my free therapy. They’re my stress relievers.”
People interested in adopting from the Humane Society can call to make an appointment to visit the dog adoption center, or attend the cat adoption shelter’s open visitation on Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.