Tara Cain, right, leads Mending Mutts, a charity organization designed to rescue and help dogs with special or medical needs. (Shomik Mukherjee — The Times-Standard)
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A rescue organization that helps dogs recover from trauma before finding them new homes will receive the proceeds from Humboldt Bay Fire’s annual five-kilometer charity run at Sequoia Park.

In its fifth iteration Sunday morning, the “Bark in the Park” event saw dozens of people run the 5k — a little more than three miles — around the park in support of local organizations. Humboldt Bay Fire selects a different animal charity each year to receive the benefits; Mending Mutts was this year’s choice.

The organization supports dogs with special and medical needs. One canine, a hound-rat terrier mix named Grits, had been dumped as a young puppy out in Shelter Cove. Grits lived in isolation for six months before he was rescued. Mending Mutts has been helping him rehabilitate the emotional trauma he carried over from the experience.

“For [Grits], it’s just been slow interactions with people and other animals,” said Tara Cain of Mending Mutts. “We take him places like [Sunday’s event] where he can get used to being a real dog and being a part of the real world.”

Grits sat in a pen next to where Cain’s table was set-up. Attendees walking by were quick to play with him or ruffle his head as they walked by. For his part, Grits seemed receptive to the attention.

“He loves people now,” Cain said. “At first he was unsure, but now he loves going out. He’s realizing people are great.”

Grits, a hound-rat terrier mix, lived in isolation for six months before he was rescued. (Shomik Mukherjee — The Times-Standard)

The organization finds private foster homes for dogs like Grits once they’re ready to begin a normal life.

Humboldt Bay Fire picked Mending Mutts to receive the event’s proceeds in part because it’s one of the newer animal charities in the area, said firefighter Tyler Gillespie.

Participants paid to register for the 5k and also had the option of purchasing raffle tickets. Other revenue comes from sponsoring organizations and advertisements, Gillespie said. Sunday’s raffle prizes included wine, fishing trips and gift certificates to pet stores.

Sequoia Park was damp and foggy but it didn’t hinder the playfulness of dogs in attendance — many brought their own pets to enjoy the event.

Other organizations at the event included the Sequoia Humane Society and the Companion Animal Foundation.

Shomik Mukherjee can be reached at 707-441-0504.

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