A group of local dogs got together Saturday to help one of their fellow canines sniff out a job.

It was the Northeast Cobb Business Association’s 5th annual 5K9 Run, where humans and their dogs ran to raise money to buy a specially-trained comfort dog for the Cobb County District Attorney’s office.

Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell said the newly-hired dog will have an important job — giving crime victims support as they testify about traumatic events.

“The dog that we’ll get this year for the DA’s office will bring comfort and confidence to kids and elderly abuse victims when they go to court or are interviewed,” she said. “It’s great therapy for them.”

Birrell said the business association hosts the race each year to supply a therapy dog for a group that could use one. Previous beneficiaries have included the Cobb County Sheriff’s department, police department and a family with an autistic child.

The cost of the canine is expected to be between $12,000 and $15,0000.

Runner Elly Kaganzi, an Acworth resident who works for nonprofit CARE, said he and his friends chose to run in the 5K9 because they supported the cause.

“It’s a noble idea,” he said. “I love it. That’s why I’m running. There are so many races that we can pick and choose what we do, and this is really an excellent idea. I’m glad we came out.”

Kaganzi munched on a hot Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit as he spoke to the MDJ from inside Piedmont Church, where the run began and finished. He was warm and dry, unlike some of the runners who finished after him.

“The weather was really good to begin with,” he said. “We had about an hour of very limited rain. It was cool out there. After about 40 minutes into the race, it started coming down heavy.”

As the sky opened up, onlookers and supporters huddled under tents and umbrellas to cheer on the runners. The whipping wind snatched up a stack of papers from the timing booth, and a race official had to scramble to retrieve them from the waterlogged ground.

But the runners didn’t let their soaked socks saturate their spirits. They raised their hands high as they crossed the finish line, cheered on by Kell High School’s varsity cheerleaders.

Northeast Cobb Business Association Board Member Frank Wigington, who also chairs the race’s committee, called this year’s event a success in spite of the weather.

“This is memorable,” he said from under a tent as soggy runners crossed the finish line. “People won’t forget this race because of the rain, and that’s okay. It’s a successful race for us. The cause is worthwhile, it’s worthy of what we’re doing, and it’s great.”


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