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'Dog Whisperer' Star Reaches Out to Hispanic Community
Amiee Villalobos, SACommunities Northwest

(http://www.mysanantonio.com/community/northwest/dog_whisperer_star_reaches_out_to_hispanic_community_98369549.html?showFullArticle=y)

It is no secret that San Antonio has a long, sordid past when it comes to animal control and pet overpopulation.

According to an article by the San Antonio Express-News, as of 2006, San Antonio was euthanizing 50,000 dogs and cats per year, more per capita than any other city in America. Though the number last year was closer to 15,000, César Millán, better known as The Dog Whisperer, would like that number to be zero one day.

Millán along with Alex López Negrete, chief executive officer of López Negrete Communications, came to the Spay-Neuter Assistance Program (S.N.A.P.) Clinic off of Ingram Road last week in an effort to reach the Hispanic community with the message to spay and neuter their pets.

“This is the first Latino-focused program on spay and neuter education that talks about pet overpopulation and the consequences of it and more importantly the prevention of that,” López Negrete said. “For us, to join with César has been the project of a lifetime.”

Millán said there are stereotypes in the Hispanic community about spaying and neutering that need to be debunked.

“Being a Latino myself, I know that many times we learn at an early age that neutering or spaying a dog changes their state of mind,” he said. “All my pack is spayed or neutered, and it doesn't change anything. It actually enhances their ability to be social with other dogs. It decreases frustration. Marking (urinating to claim territory), which is a big problem a lot of time for people, goes out of the behavior for dogs. So it's a lot of great things I want to share.”

Both Millán and López Negrete believe the Hispanic community wants to do right by their four-legged friends, but they say they feel there is a lapse in knowledge about spaying and neutering.

“We need to be conscious about how many dogs die every year and how we can prevent this by adopting the concept of spaying and neutering,” Millán said. “Between four and five million pets die every year, and this is innocent cats and dogs who are dying, and most of them don't have a behavioral problem. They just don't have the ability to belong to a home.”

“And once we are given the information about pet overpopulation — the fact that an overwhelming percentage of the dogs that die on the streets … are not sterilized, the fact that here in San Antonio you have nearly 100 pets die everyday … just here in San Antonio” — then the community can do a better collective job of pet ownership, López Negrete continued. “It's thanks to (spay and neuter) clinics like these, it's thanks to S.N.A.P. that we can do something about it.”

As far as San Antonio's adoption of a no kill goal by the year 2012, Millán said the Millán Foundation's campaign is just one piece.

“Everything counts; it's not just a strategy or one thing that's going to work for the whole for our picture,” he said. “But this is one of the things that we need to adopt because, once you start preventing from being born, you don't have to kill. We have to adopt adopting instead of purchasing. We have to think no puppy mills. It's just many things that we have to adjust.”

James Weedon, the executive director for S.N.A.P., said he has high hopes for the campaign, which kicked off with public service announcements airing on the National Geographic channel.

“It's the message that we want to get out, and hopefully his (Millán's) connections, especially to the Latino population, will help us here in San Antonio a lot,” he said. “We just need to do a lot more spay and neuters so there's a whole lot less puppies and kitties born that end up in the shelter just because someone didn't have a home for them.”

For more information on the campaign, visit www.millanfoundation.org or for information about S.N.A.P. and services offered visit www.snapus.org.

 

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