A Shots Fair client with his beautiful little pit bull girl, yesterday in Richmond, CA.
Richmond is a struggling city on the bay with a rep for high crime. It's also the former home of a convicted drug dealer whose dogs severely mauled a little boy in 2001. After attending a Public Safety Commission meeting in '01, we promised the city that we'd return to help, but it's taken us a LONG time to honor that promise. Refreshed with new resources (Thank you supporters!) we finally got our butts up to Richmond to begin looking at best ways to help the dog owners that live there. Of course , it's impossible to know what a community needs without getting to know it first. These fairs give us a great opp to meet our neighbors and learn about their issues and challenges.
Despite biases some might hold about inner city dog owners, the fair's attendees were 1) not thugs 2) not dog fighters 3) not "too poor to properly care for their dogs" 4) not opposed to spay/neuter.
On the contrary - as is so often the case - they are 1) typically under-served by veterinarians (area vets were horrifically reluctant to help us with low cost spay/neuter vouchers) 2) they tend to have an adversarial relationship with animal control due to the heavy law enforcement focus of this agency, 3) they have no local humane orgs to look to for responsible ownership guidance, (the nearest humane org is miles away and caters to middle class adopters) 4) they're unable to access positive/motivational training resources (Note: Personal protection trainers fill this training void - Yikes!) --- however 5) these Richmond dog owners - pit bull owners especially - were extremely grateful to receive support, information, collars/leashes and free spay/neuter vouchers. We even recruited some new volunteers for our Oakland Animal Services project. Nice.
Shots Fair organizer BR diehard Kim Ramirez gives a blue pup owner some insights on dealing with skin issues and dog-dog management.
All in a day's work. On 6/08/08:
188 dogs served.
42 dogs - Approx 23% - appeared to be pit bull or pit mix.
18 of the 42 pit bulls were under six months old.
40 dogs attending were already altered.
148 dogs not altered (mostly CHIHUAHUAS!)
20 pit bull owners received free spay/neuter vouchers.
Dozens of ragged collars and leashes were exchanged for properly fitted equipment
How hard was that? We hope other dog-centric groups join us in reaching out to their local communities. If you're struggling with BSL concerns and would like info on how to set up a Shots Fair, please let us know!