Takin’ It to the Streets

Chihuahua Parade Down State Street

Find cuties like Chica (left) and Simon at the Chihuahua parade.
Paul Wellman (file)

One Chihuahua is adorable, but a whole parade? Too cute for words. Luckily, an opportunity to find the right words is just around the corner as a ¡Chihuahua Power! parade and rally kicks off Chihuahuas de Mayo and the Whole Enchihuahua Saturday, April 27.

The parade is just the beginning — and newest addition — to the monthlong campaign launched in 2012 by the Santa Barbara County Responsible Pet Ownership Alliance (RPOA) in an effort to direct public attention toward the plight of Chihuahuas and their respective mixes throughout the county. Despite their small size, they are in big trouble.

“Chihuahuas and Chi mixes constitute 30-40 percent of the dogs impounded in the county’s shelters,” said Lee Heller, a volunteer/advocate with the Alliance. As such, the RPOA’s monthlong program is a two-pronged approach. “Chihuahuas de Mayo tries to reduce the overpopulation of Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes in our county by offering 300-plus free spay/neuter surgeries to owned dogs during May,” explained Heller. “The Whole Enchihuahua promotes adoption of Chihuahuas and Chi mixes living in area shelters by offering half off adoption fees for these dogs during the month.”

It’s a daunting and expensive undertaking to get overbred canine populations under control. Fortunately, community nonprofits and businesses have stepped in to help underwrite RPOA’s efforts. “In its first year, Chihuahuas de Mayo received both a $10,000 grant from the ASPCA (to help pay for spaying and neutering owned Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes) and a $4,000 grant from the Santa Barbara Foundation, to support the RPOA’s collaborative efforts to promote responsible pet ownership. This year, the program received a $10,000 grant from the Petco Foundation,” said Heller.

The parade begins at Paseo Nuevo’s main plaza; Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider will lead the noble procession of Chihuahuas and their owners on a brief jaunt down State Street. After the parade, a rally will be held back at the plaza for owners and non-owners alike to celebrate the little dogs with big hearts and encourage prospective adopters.

Ultimately, the RPOA hopes pet owners will take responsibility for and care of their pets by having them spayed or neutered and that animal lovers will consider taking a shelter dog into their home. For now, the parade and rally give folks an opportunity to take pride in their petite pals.


The ¡Chihuahua Power! parade and rally begins Saturday, April 27, 3 p.m., at Paseo Nuevo’s main plaza. For free spay/neuter or to adopt, call one of the following: S.B. County Animal Services, Santa Maria, (805) 934-6968; Santa Maria Valley Humane Society, (805) 349-3435; Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society, (805) 688-8224; S.B. Humane Society, (805) 964-4777 x20; CARE4Paws, (805) 968-CARE (2273). For more information, visit projectpetsafe.org.


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