Pit bulls may get negative attention in the public eye, but they will get a lot  of positive attention and free services at the first Sacramento Neighborhood Pit Bull Days event being held at the Colonial Heights Library at Stockton and 21st on Sunday, February 19 from 11 AM to 2 PM.

The Sacramento City Shelter is collaborating with two local non-profit organizations, 4 R Friends and Chako Pit Bull Rescue to deliver free vaccines, identification tags and microchips, and new collars to the dogs of south Sacramento.  The event especially caters to south Sacramento owners of pit bull type dogs, but all breeds of dogs from all neighborhoods will be welcomed.

The sponsors of Pit Bull Days are responding to a deficit of affordable care and resources in the targeted south Sacramento area where stray dogs, dog bites, and puppy diseases are all over-represented.

While more than 232 low cost public vaccine events are held within the city limits yearly, none are held within the area bounded by Broadway, Freeport Boulevard, 65th Street and 42nd Avenue.

According to city shelter statistics, in the last year, more than a thousand stray dogs were impounded by Sacramento City Animal Care from just two south Sacramento zip codes within the boundaries listed.  More than 40% of them were pit bulls, with a large percentage being injured or sick.

The vast majority of the pit bulls in the shelter are never claimed by their owners, and are not adopted by the public, leading many of them to be euthanized.  This could be prevented by having identification in the form of a secure collar with an ID tag, or a microchip with up to date contact information for the owner on all dogs.

The event is strategically planned to coincide with puppy season, and to repeat monthly in order to provide for proper boosting of puppy vaccines.

Parvo, the killer virus of puppies that emerged in the early eighties, is endemic in Sacramento.  The virus causes intractable vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and devastating dehydration in puppies and young dogs.  Without timely, and often costly, intensive care, the majority of infected puppies die within days.

Jean Rabinowitz, DVM, founder of 4 R Friends says, “Puppies with Parvo go from being playful bundles of joy, to withering away before your eyes in a matter of hours, and die in the saddest state.  It is heartbreaking for the families, and demoralizing for the veterinary staff who are often charged with euthanizing the puppies when families cannot afford to undertake their care. Perhaps the most aggravating aspect of the disease is that it is preventable with routine puppy vaccines.”

Puppies should be given vaccines at two, three, and four months of age to be fully protected against Parvo.  Until the vaccines have all been given, puppies should not be taken into public places where they might be exposed to the virus.  The canine parvovirus is one of the heartiest viruses known to scientists.  Shed in the feces of infected dogs, it can survive for a full year, and is able to infect any unvaccinated puppy in the environment.

Additionally, event’s sponsors will educate participants about secure collars, safe and effective restraint, and training, all essential to keeping dogs, and the people around them, safe.

Chako Pit Bull Rescue volunteers will be on hand to outfit dogs with well fitting and appropriately secure collars, to educate people on safe means of controlling their dogs on walks, and to offer general behavior and training counsel to the owners of all dogs present.

Dawn Capp, founder of Chako, the local pit bull advocacy organization, states “As a community, we aim to reach out to south Sacramento Pit Bull owners and provide them with the tools, resources, and information to keep their dogs healthy, trained, and socialized.”

Because of the poor public image and stigmatization of the breed, owners of pit bulls bear a higher burden of scrutiny than do owners of other breeds.  It is incumbent upon them to ensure that their pets are under full control at all times, and that they are embodiments of all that is good in the breed, to help reverse that public image.

Vouchers for free spay and neuter surgeries at the Sacramento City Shelter will be given to participants in the event.  At the repeat events scheduled in March and April, free spay and neuter surgeries will be performed on site with the use of the city shelter’s mobile surgery unit.

The Sacramento City Animal Shelter collaborates with local non-profit organizations 4 R Friends and Chako Pit Bull Rescue to provide south Sacramento neighborhoods access to free veterinary care, education, equipment and resources needed to keep their dogs safe, healthy, off the streets and out of the shelter.