The promotion offers free spay/neuter surgeries in an effort to reduce the number of homeless Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes in Santa Barbara County’s shelters. As a result of the ASPCA’s grant, Alliance members have been able to increase the original number of free spay/neuters being offered during May 2012 by 25 percent. RPO Alliance members initially pooled resources to fund free spay/neuter surgeries for the first 300 dogs signed up in May 2012. Because of the ASPCA’s generous support, Alliance members have been able to offer 93 additional surgeries, bringing the total number of available free spay/neuter surgeries to nearly 400. Such a large number of free surgeries performed in a short period of time is unprecedented for the area. Public interest and response to the program was immediate and enthusiastic – and as a result, as of mid-May, all of the free surgery appointments have been booked, even with the additional 93 appointments.

“The RPO is delighted to have the support of the ASPCA for this critical project,” says Jan Glick, director of Santa Barbara County Animal Services and a founding member of the RPO Alliance. “In these tough economic times, funding is difficult to come by, and we are thankful that the ASPCA has chosen to fund the “Chihuahuas de Mayo” program. We strongly believe that a multi-agency collaborative approach is the best way to work towards solving the problem of pet overpopulation.”

Chihuahua and Chihuahua mixes currently represent 40 percent of the population of dogs impounded in the county’s shelters. Their numbers have increased dramatically in the past ten years, due in great part to unplanned breeding by dogs whose owners have not had them spayed/neutered.

Although the expanded “Chihuahuas de Mayo” free spay/neuter program is full, Chihuahua and Chihuahua mix owners in the region still have many options for low-cost surgeries to get their dogs fixed. C.A.R.E.4Paws offers free surgeries to low income pet owners on an ongoing basis, while Animal Services’ Project PetSafe and the county’s three humane societies all provide low-cost spay/neuter for all dogs and cats. Owners can obtain more information about affordable spay/neuter options by contacting one of the following RPO Alliance members:

SB County Animal Services, Santa Maria Animal Center, at (805) 934-6968 (SB County residents only)

Santa Barbara Humane Society at (805) 964-4777 ext.20

Santa Maria Valley Humane Society at (805) 349-3435

Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society at (805) 688-8224

C.A.R.E.4Paws at (805) 968-CARE (2273)

“Chihuahuas de Mayo” also features “The Whole Enchihuahua,” a month-long promotion of adoptable dogs in the RPO Alliance’s six member shelters. The adoption fee for these dogs at member shelters is half-price for the month, and includes spay/neuter and vaccinations. Interested members of the public should contact their nearest shelter for more information.

The RPO Alliance includes the Animal Shelter Assistance Program (ASAP), Santa Barbara County Animal Care Foundation, Santa Barbara County Animal Services, C.A.R.E.4Paws, Santa Barbara Humane Society, Santa Maria Valley Humane Society, Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society, and Volunteers for Intervalley Animals (VIVA). Founded in 2010, it represents a new direction for animal welfare efforts in Santa Barbara County, as its members meet regularly to discuss ongoing issues and concerns and to work together on projects such as “Chihuahuas de Mayo.”


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