Safe Humane Chicago focused on ending dog fighting and other violence

Best Friends Animal Society is national sponsor of Safe Humane Chicago, innovative public/private coalition to combat dog fighting and other violence.
By Amy Abern

Members of the Chicago media came to a press conference this week to learn what interest Best Friends Animal Society, located in the high desert of Utah, could possibly have in the Windy City.

Safe Humane Chicago's goal of ending dog fighting and violence

The answer is simple: Safe Humane Chicago, a community initiative designed to end dog fighting and violence toward animals and people.

Best Friends chief executive Paul Berry announced that we have signed on as the sole national sponsor of the program.

"We’ve been looking hard for a national model to extend our programming," he said. "And Safe Humane Chicago is it. There’s never been anything like this. And we hope to bring this model to other cities."

Paul was joined on stage by several SHC partners and speakers, including representatives from the Chicago Police Department, faith-based leaders, and children. Also on stage was scene-stealer Chula, a non-stop tail-wagging pit bull who had been rescued from life in the dog-fighting ring.

"I’m told she’s up for adoption," Paul said. "Chula is a perfect example of the potential for all dogs who have been victims of abuse."

The children at the conference served as perfect examples of the importance of teaching kindness and compassion to animals early on.

Two of them, Mariah and Cornelius, participate in an SHC after school program through the Alliance for Community Peace.

"I know now to treat dogs good because they have feelings," Mariah said.

Cornelius added, "If I’m nice to dogs, they’ll be nice to me."

Anisha is a freshman at Walter Payton High School and a member of the SHC "Kids, Animals and Kindness" seminar. She and her 19 classmates are learning to become teachers themselves – they’ll be going to grade schools to teach younger children the importance of kindness and compassion to animals, how to behave around dogs and why dog fighting and animal abuse are wrong.

"It’s important for us to exercise compassion with all animals," Anisha said. "And we need to care for our pets with the right training and things like spay/neuter. That’s all part of being kind to the animals."

SHC co-founders Cynthia Bathurst and Melia Carter developed the concept of Safe Humane to address the culture of violence toward people and animals in Chicago’s inner city.

Programs, education and supportive services promoting kindness and compassion

The goal is to stop violence and abuse at its many sources by offering a new role model of behavior through programs, education and supportive services promoting kindness and compassion.

To accomplish this, SHC partners with several government agencies, animal and community advocates, faith-based groups, law enforcement representatives and animal rescues and shelters.

Photo of conference by Amy Abern

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