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Large crowd, sunny weather highlight SPCA 5K

Staff Photo: John Bohn Runners, some with their dogs, begin a 5K road race as the Georgia SPCA hosts a fun run and a 5K run to raise money for a non-profit center that rescues and adopts pets. The runs were held at and near Suwanee Town Center Park Saturday morning.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Runners, some with their dogs, begin a 5K road race as the Georgia SPCA hosts a fun run and a 5K run to raise money for a non-profit center that rescues and adopts pets. The runs were held at and near Suwanee Town Center Park Saturday morning.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Runners, some with their dogs, having finished running a 5K road race, walk back to Suwanee Town Center Park after taking part in the Georgia SPCA hosted fun run and 5K run, held to raise money for a non-profit center that rescues and adopts pets.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Runners, many with their dogs, begin a 5K road race as the Georgia SPCA hosts a fun run and a 5K run to raise money for a non-profit center that rescues and adopts pets. The runs were held at and near Suwanee Town Center Park Saturday morning.

SUWANEE -- Call it postcard worthy, or ordered by the Chamber of Commerce, but the weather on Saturday morning was ideal for canines and humans alike.

A year after rain nearly spoiled the inaugural event, the Georgia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals held the Run for the Rescues 5K race that brought 1,100 people and their dogs on a cool and sun-splashed morning to raise money for the shelter.

The second annual event was expected to raise more than $20,000 for the shelter. Last year's event had 700 people and raised about $17,000, organizers said.

The 5K started and finished near the Suwanee library on Main Street in Old Town. A fun run, which preceded it, was in Town Center Park.

"The weather couldn't have been any better," race director Christine Muller said. "I prayed for a month to have weather like this."

The first dog to finish was Stella, a German wire-haired pointer owned by Johan Desmet of Suwanee. They finished in 19:36. Desmet recently completed a 100-mile run from Athens to Atlanta to raise money and awareness for the American Cancer Society.

"I thought she should do something for a good cause as well," said Desmet of his 11-month old dog.

Awards were given to the top three dog finishers, and by age group for people.

The event was also a way to advertise pets at the shelter who are available for adoption.

Sadie, a black pit bull, wore a Hawaiian lei and rolled around on the pavement in the moments before the race began. She's lived at the shelter for about two and a half years. Georgia SPCA executive director Jane Stewart said Sadie was rescued among a group of dogs from a fighting ring in Talbot County.

"We really thought she would be the first to go, because she almost looks like a Boston terrier," Stewart said. "If all of us didn't have so many dogs, she'd come to live with one of us."

Stewart said the SPCA named its thrift shop after Sadie, and the dog would adjust well to a home with a relaxed male dog. Fernando Guevara, who ran with Sadie on Saturday, said she was very popular among the other dogs and people who ran the race. Stewart said that showed how much improvement she's made.

"We never would have taken her to a festival-type event like this," Stewart said, as Sadie laid on her back with her tongue hanging out. "This is amazing."

Several litter mates ran together, including some who had recently been adopted. Vicki Pendergrast recently adopted a dog named Rhino, and her sister Eve Pendergrast ran with Brady, who is still up for adoption.

"I have four dogs and none of them could run," Eve said. "I picked (Brady) up this morning to spend the day with us."

The group hopes to add a 10K event next year for more serious runners.