Most of us would agree with actress Gilda Radner, who said, “I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role models for being alive.”
Sadly, in some parts of the world, dogs do not have this great esteem. The Street Dog Dash is a nonprofit that exists to support the success of local rescues in Cherokee County and surrounding areas, and to put an end to the suffering of dogs in the Asian meat trade. The nonprofit’s annual 5K is set for April 29 at Etowah River Park in Canton.
“I founded Street Dog Dash 5K (SDD5K) in 2018 as a way to serve my local community and give back to the world,” Woodstock resident Haley Williams said. “I’m a strong believer in trying to leave the world a better place than you found it. Once I learned about the dog meat trade in Asia, something inside me broke, and I knew that I had to act. SDD5K was born out of my God-given love for animals, and a belief that we must be a voice for the less fortunate, and those who can’t speak for themselves.”
The SDD5K raises funds and awareness for the fight against the dog meat trade. Its nonprofit of choice is the Soi Dog Foundation, which has been running for more than 11 years and is committed to ending this barbaric business. Headquartered in Thailand, Soi Dog has been successful in ending the trade in its own country and getting restrictive laws passed in other Asian countries. Soi Dog works toward the enforcement of existing laws, educating the public about the health risks associated with this trade, and providing farmers with alternative ways to earn income. Progress is being made.
In Cherokee and surrounding counties, SDD5K supports animal shelters, rescue groups and smaller organizations, such as Rescue Me Georgia.
Josh and Michelle Williams stepped into the role of directors of race operations beginning in fall 2021. Even though involvement in the SDD5K is recent, their passion for pups is not. Josh and Michelle met in 2014 at Brook Run Dog Park in Atlanta, where their three rescue dogs became best friends. They soon fell in love, married, brought everyone together as one big happy family, and moved to Canton.
“I discovered SDD5K after coordinating an outdoor community event for the company I worked for at the time,” Michelle said. “Since both Josh and I love the idea of supporting rescues and dogs in need, we also participated in the race. When the opportunity arose to take on more responsibility as race directors, we happily said yes to supporting our local communities and improving the lives of animals.”
SDD5K is a fun family event to get everyone moving. Everyone is welcome, including four-legged family members. Not a runner? No problem. You can walk the 3 miles with or without your pup. Here are a few recommendations from some of your metro Atlanta neighbors:
“The SDD5k is absolutely my favorite race! It’s so much fun to see all the dogs (and their humans) enjoying the event,” Brooke Hopkins said.
“This (year) will be my third time participating in the SDD5K! It is a great event put on in our community for runners and fur friends alike. A great course and an even better cause. Cannot wait until April 29!” Kasi Winkles said.
Katie Nix said: “Participating in the SDD5K isn’t just about testing your own limits; it’s about pushing for a greater cause. I heard about the SDD5K in the Around Woodstock magazine, and knew it was a cause I wanted to support, no questions asked. When you lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement, you’re not only supporting the health and wellness of yourself, but you’re also making a difference for dogs in need and your local community. The joy of crossing that finish line is amplified by the knowledge that your efforts have contributed to something bigger than yourself, helping to create a better future for animals and people alike. I can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store for the SDD5K!”
– Susan Schulz is a Bible teacher and mentor who lives and plays on the Etowah River in Canton. Connect with her on social media or at susanbrowningschulz.com.