WILLIAMSTOWN -- Fur will fly Saturday as hundreds of dogs and their humans will be running (or walking) through town in the annual Humane Race fundraiser to benefit the Berkshire Humane Society.

In its 12th year, the Humane Race offers canine carousers and their human hosts the opportunity to gather en masse in downtown Williamstown to run, walk, bark, gallop, shake like a dog and socialize while raising money for the largest homeless animal shelter in Berkshire County.

According to Christa Abel, race director, the event typically draws about 130 four-legged participants, and nearly 300 two-leggers. Humans don't have to have their dogs with them to be in the race, but dogs who want to run will have to bring their humans to sign the forms (most canines don't like paperwork).

Organizers hope to raise thousands to benefit the animal shelter.

"We're shooting to make between $12,000 and $15,000," Abel said. "There is still time to sign up for sponsorships and pledges, and there is always time to make a contribution."

In the first 11 Humane Races, a total of $120,000 has been raised for the Berkshire Humane Society.

With about 15 employees and several hundred volunteers, the shelter handles more than 2,300 dogs, cats, rabbits, and hamsters every year by caring for them, providing medical attention and finding them new homes.

John Perrault, executive director of the Berkshire Humane Society, has said that over more than 20 years, the shelter has taken in more than 42,500 animals, adopted out more than 10,000 cats, 6,000 dogs, 500 rabbits, 75 guinea pigs and 30 hamsters. Others have been placed with rescue groups or in other accommodations. It has spayed or neutered more than 1,500 cats and 3,000 dogs. More than 700 families every year receive help from the shelter's Pet Food Bank. And more than 18,000 children have attended the local Humane Society's summer camp, while 23,000 local students have received animal education from its staff and volunteers.

Registration Saturday will begin at 8 a.m. in front of Water Street Books on Water Street, with check-in time from 8 to 9:45 a.m. To pre-register, visit www.humanerace.org. The first 150 to pre-register get a free T-shirt (for people) and a free bandana (for dogs).

The cost to pre-register is $15 for humans 13 years old or older, and $10 for little humans under 12. On the day of the race, the fee is $5 higher.

Dogs run free.

Abel said there will be volunteers along the course to keep runners from veering off, as some humans are known to not be able to follow directions.

During the event, raffle tickets will be available for a chance to win a 2015 Subaru Forester.

After the run, at the bottom of Spring Street, free food will be available for both species, and there will be plenty of plastic doggie-pools for the canines to cool off. There will be no pools for the humans.

A DJ will be playing some tunes, and prizes will be awarded.

Hopes are that the rain will abate by then -- nobody likes the smell of a wet human.

"We're going to assume the weather will be good and the rain will be behind us," Abel said. "But even in the rain, everyone still has fun."

To reach Scott Stafford:
sstafford@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 663-3741, ext. 227.
On Twitter: @BE_SStafford