The California State Association of Counties selected the Santa Barbara County program “Promoting Responsible Pet Ownership: Chihuahuas de Mayo” for a Merit Award.
The Responsible Pet Ownership program focuses on the four keys to responsible pet ownership — licensing, vaccination, altering (spaying/neutering) and micro-chipping.
Many factors contributed to the success of the program.
The Board of Supervisors approved a Responsible Pet Ownership ordinance in 2010. An alliance of public and private partners was created to increase the availability of spay/neuter services for low-income residents. Special outreach campaigns were developed to target desired outcomes.
One of the special and very successful outreach campaigns was “Chihuahuas de Mayo,” which kicked off on Cinco de Mayo and offered half-price chihuahua adoptions and free spay/neuter for chihuahuas.
The Responsible Pet Ownership program has had some very positive results. The number of dog licenses sold increased 47 percent from May 1, 2010, to April 30, 2012. Each of these licensed dogs is vaccinated for rabies and now has identification for a quick return to an owner in the event they are lost.
Also, the number of animals neutered through free or low-cost clinics provided through the county or another of the alliance partners has increased.
“Promoting Responsible Pet Ownership: Chihuahuas de Mayo” is one of three recipients in the Merit Award category for counties with a population of 200,001 to 700,000. The other two recipients in that category are Butte County for a “Hospital Alternative Program for Youth” and Tulare County for “Step Up: Gang Prevention Task Force.”
— Susan Klein-Rothschild is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.