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Hail Cesar (and Gris)

From Animal Sheltering magazine March/April 2014

We met Cesar at our very first dog training group class at Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights in Los Angeles. He rode up on his bike with his dog, Gris, and stopped when he saw all the people hanging out with their dogs and signing up for classes. One of our Pets for Life community organizers, Sonia Perez, approached to talk to him, and they were soon joined by Robert Sotelo, one of our organizers and dog trainers. While they were talking, Robert leaned down to pet Gris—and that’s when Gris lunged at him.

Robert immediately told Cesar, “You have to take my class!” Cesar liked the idea of training his dog and signed up. The topic of getting Gris fixed came up, but Cesar was totally against it. He did not want to cut off his buddy’s jewels!Over the course of several months, Cesar attended just about every class with his dog, a total of three nine-week dog training classes, and he learned more about spay/neuter through the classes. He noticed that several other dogs in class who got fixed didn’t have any changes in their personalities, but that they did seem calmer.

Although it took Cesar a long time to decide to neuter his dog, the final straw came when Gris jumped out of a window in his home to get to Cesar’s female dog, Bully, who was in heat. When this happened, Cesar was so shocked that he agreed to get his dog fixed. Even after Robert signed him up, we still had to reschedule his appointment several times before he finally showed up and got Gris fixed.

Now Gris is a well-behaved dog, and Cesar has become a volunteer and our official dog-training apprentice. Cesar has volunteered at almost all of our outreach events and is constantly referring people he meets on the streets to our program to get their pets fixed. He is learning all about dog training the Pets for Life way and is a wonderful ambassador for the program.

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About the Author

Alana Yañez is the Manager of Pets for Life (PFL), Los Angeles for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). She helped establish the program’s expansion to Los Angeles in January 2012 and with the rest of the PFL L.A. team provides much needed spay/neuter, veterinary care and pet wellness resources to underserved areas in East Los Angeles. In addition to her role at The HSUS, Alana has had the privilege of serving as a commissioner for the Los Angeles Animal Services Board for the past four years.