Some will be traveling on four legs. Others move on two. But all the runners and walkers at the 10th annual Paws & Claws 5K at Hopkinton State Park on Oct. 20 will be making strides toward supporting animals.
The 5K is a major fundraiser to support Baypath Humane Society of Hopkinton. The organization provides shelter, care, humane treatment and loving homes for stray or unwanted companion animals, according to its website.
The 5K plays a vital role in helping the shelter care for more than 1,000 animals a year.
“It’s a really important fundraiser to help rescue animals,” said volunteer Leslie Doyle. In addition, she said, “It’s a really fun event.”
The event features a 5K that can be run or walked. Solo participants are welcome, but pet owners are encouraged to bring along their leashed dogs. “Lots of people walk with their dogs,” she said.
Registration starts at 9 a.m. The walk/run steps off at 10:30 a.m. Awards to top finishers and fundraisers are presented at 11 a.m.
Before the walk/run begins, a Paws & Claws 5K village will be set up, with vendors, music and children’s activities. During this time, participants and their pets can mill about and socialize, which is always a popular part of the day, Doyle said.
The walk/run is one of Baypath’s three annual major fundraisers. The event has raised more than $100,000 in the last three years. Last year’s walk/run brought in about $38,000. The organization has set a goal of more than $40,000 for this year.
Although the need for support is constant, animal sheltering has “evolved significantly” in the past decade, Doyle said.
One major difference, she said, is the increased awareness of how caring for animals in private homes, known as fostering, can better prepare them for adoption.
“No matter how nice a facility is, it’s still an animal in a kennel,” she said. Some animals adapt quickly to this and are adopted out very soon after their arrival, she added.
But other animals, particularly those who are shy and/or might have certain medical conditions, thrive with the personal care of a foster home, Doyle noted. Volunteers take in the animals and help them relax and be more comfortable before being adopted out.
“We have an amazing foster network,” she said.
Baypath recently received a grant to further improve its fostering efforts. It received a Maddie’s Fund grant to participate in the organization’s Dog Foster Apprenticeship program.
Maddie’s Fund is a national family foundation established by Dave and Cheryl Duffield to “revolutionize the status and well-being of companion animals,” according to material provided by the organization.
The grant will allow Baypath’s foster coordinator to visit Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson, Arizona. While at the center, she will learn how better to promote foster pets, recruit and retain foster families and expand a community support system.
“This opportunity will help us to grow and support our incredible network of foster families and to explore new ways to find loving homes for tougher-to-adopt dogs,’’ said Elizabeth Jefferis, executive director of Baypath Humane Society.
Baypath is always in need of volunteers in general and foster families in particular, Doyle said.
She serves as a foster parent herself and encourages animal lovers to consider doing the same. “I get to see all different kinds of dogs and help them get new homes,” Doyle said. “Once you see that success, it makes you feel really good.”
In an effort to further educate the public about animal-related issues, the society also offers a free lecture series, thanks to grants from Middlesex Savings Bank, on such topics as overcoming common dog behaviors issues, socializing puppies and learning about legislative issues that impact animals.
For more information on Baypath Humane Society, including available animals and events such as the 5K and the lecture series, visit baypathhumane.org.