When our group first formed, we began meeting with neighborhood leaders in some of Kansas City's urban neighborhoods. Our hope was to develop some programs reaching youth that would encourage them to spay/neuter their dogs, as well as to come to our low-cost dog training classes so they could teach their dogs the basic skills of walking on a lead, sitting, staying, etc.
One quote really stuck out at me from one of the leaders - -she said that whoever she helped would have to care more about the people, than the dogs.
Tio Hardiman has probably developed one of the best such programs out there. Tio works in Chicago's urban neighborhoods, working with inner city youth on how they SHOULD be caring for their dogs. He's built programs designed to give the youth other reasons to be proud of their dogs vs fighting them for pride. Through his programs, youth learn the pride of having a well-trained dog -- and the bond with the dog that comes from that work.
The USA Today covered Tio's program this week in what is yet another great read. I think it's awesome that the story focused on the reality that MOST of the kids in the inner city are not fighting their dogs -- however, some are. And they want to reach the ones that are.
I think Tio's program is great at reminding us that as much as we want to help animals -- it always still comes back to helping the people.
For more on Tio's program, including video - you can check out this old post.