Big brown eyes, toothy grins, and wagging tails greeted members of the press on the courthouse steps last Friday. The furry, four-legged critters in attendance were but a handful of Chihuahuas from area shelters, there to help celebrate “Chihuahuas de Mayo” and promote “The Whole Enchihuahua,” a month-long program intended to educate the public regarding the startling number of chi-chis and chi-chi mixes living in shelters — as many as 40 percent of all shelter dogs are of wee stature.
Volunteers and politicians posed for pictures on the courthouse steps, each holding a Chihuahua in need of adoption. Some of the dogs drooped lazily in human arms, others licked faces, some had worried eyes, but all were well-behaved while Jan Glick, animal services director of Responsible Pet Ownership Alliance (ROP), spoke about the scope of the problem: “This is not the whole enchihuahua,” she punned, referring to the 20 or so pups at the event. “This is just a few of them.”
Next, Santa Barbara City Councilmember Cathy Murillo, who serves as ambassador of the program, gave a short speech thanking the individuals and organizations that “had this vision to help Chihuahuas, to me one of the most vulnerable breeds we have.” Murillo told of a chihuahua she knew who was very dear to her.
“[Simon] was the newsroom mascot when I worked at The Independent weekly newspaper. He was a brown-colored, apple-head Chihuahua, a part of our team, a co-worker. … Everyday he supported us in our work: He was entertaining, he was loving. Simon reminded us when it was time to go outside for fresh air, when to take a break and close our eyes. … Cinco de Mayo celebrates the winning of an important battle,” Murillo continued. “We can win the battle of overcrowded shelters by adopting these animals and by spaying and neutering.”
During the month of May, owners of Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes can get their pets spayed or neutered for free at the County Humane Societies in Santa Maria (805-349-3435), Santa Ynez (805-688-8224), and Santa Barbara (805-964-4777 ext 20), as well as through CARE4Paws (805-968-2273 and S.B. County Animal Services, Santa Maria (805-934-6968). The county animal shelters and humane societies are also offering half off adoption fees for Chihuahuas and mixes for all of May.
For more information on the Whole Enchihuahua program, visit projectpetsafe.org.