Garner: Community

Retriever run hopes to start a golden tradition

After 20 years in existence, Neuse River Golden Retriever Rescue will organize its first 5K at Lake Benson Park. The organizer’s director, Nancy Cawthon, hopes it won’t be the last.

The run starts Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. and will conclude by about 10:30. The event will cover a path through both Lake Benson and White Deer Park.

Cawthon hopes the Golden Retriever Rescue Run will become an annual event, and the Garner resident doesn’t intend to move it.

“If I have my hopes it will be at Lake Benson, because the town of Garner has been wonderful to work with,” Cawthon said. “I’ve just been really thrilled with how nice they’ve been.”

As of Wednesday about 125 had registered for the run, which costs $30 ($25 for pre-registration). She hopes that grows to around 150-200 by the time of the event; participants can register as late as Sunday morning.

The event has three divisions: Competitive runners without dogs, competitive runners running with dogs, and recreational runners/walkers regardless of whether they bring a dog.

The nonprofit works with shelters to find homes for golden retrievers. She said that at any given point she has about 70 volunteer foster families on her roster, some of whom take care of multiple dogs. Cawthom says she has two of her own. Its territory has covered eastern North Carolina, from Durham to the coast, ever since the Wilmington chapter disbanded.

The group has no paid staff, Cawthon said.

Many rescue organizations are breed-specific because they started out as breeding organizations. Eventually they evolved, in part because in the South there was such a heavy supply of dogs and a shortage of places to put them. The groups work to reduce the high rate of euthenasia shelters are forced into because of limited space.

Cawthon said the North has higher demand and lower supply because of the South’s inferior neuter and spay laws. But because of a generous volunteer network she said the rescue group has been effective at finding dogs homes.

“We have more applicants than we have dogs,” Cawthon said.

The money raised by the race will help shelters with “wish list” items, Cawthon said. Among them are heartworm tests. Heartworms, spread most often by mosquitos, can be fatal to animals if untreated.