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Annual dog walk, 5k to benefit humane society

Helping Young Professionals Engage (HYPE), a branch of the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, is hosting its fifth Bark in the Park Oct. 24 at Granger Park.

The event consists of a 5k race, followed by a dog-friendly walk. Registration for the 5k starts at 7 a.m., with the race starting at 7:30 a.m. Registration for the dog walk starts at 8:30 a.m. and the walk will begin 9 a.m. on The Thread. 

Registration fees are $30 for adults under the age of 65 until Friday and $35 on Saturday. For seniors and people under 18, the fees are $20 until Friday and $25 on Saturday.

Those who register before Saturday are guaranteed to receive a T-shirt, but those registering the day of may not receive one. 

People who register can participate in the 5k, the dog walk or both. Runners can also run their dogs during the 5k, if they want. A photographer and a photo booth will be on site for people to get free photos with their dogs.

There will also be contests with prizes for the winners. 

Three “celebrity judges” will judge dogs for best tail wag and best costume, as well as judge which dog looks most like their owner, HYPE President Anna Beth Ivey said. The judges will be LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton, LaGrange-Troup County Humane Society Executive Director Mandi Bono and Friends of The Thread Executive Director Natalie Hale.

“The past couple of years, our very first place runner always finishes with his dog,” Ivey said.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the humane society. Ivey said HYPE has raised between $1,000 and $1,500 each year since the event’s inception.

The event will continue a new tradition, as the humane society will bring their mobile adoption unit out for the event. Last year, a dog was adopted at the event, Ivey said. 

“It really increases the awareness, I think, in the community about the fact that we do have a humane society here and make sure that you support them,” Ivey said.

Adoptable dogs also participated in the walk last year, as 5k runners who didn’t have a dog had a chance to walk them.

“I encourage anybody who wants to come and participate, but maybe they’re not a runner, and maybe they don’t want a dog, that’s okay. If you want to support the humane society, come out anyway, register for the dog walk and you’re welcome to walk one of the adoptable dogs,” Ivey said.

Ivey isn’t yet sure what percentage of the proceeds will benefit the humane society due to a change in the way the race is being organized. Due to COVID-19, HYPE opted not to hire a race company to put on the race for the first time, in an effort to save money. Hopefully, Ivey said, that means the cost of putting on the race will be lower, and a greater percentage of funds will benefit the humane society.

The pandemic has also caused HYPE to take participants’ temperatures this year. HYPE encourages any attendees to wear a mask when they are not running or walking and social distancing is not possible.

In another effort to reduce the number of people, there will not be as many sponsors on site. The only sponsors allowed this year are the humane society and Emory at LaGrange, which is providing water and first aid.