Thursday, December 29, 2011

Barrio Dogs: Helping Rescue Dogs Through Outreach and Education

​The holidays are a time of parties and joy, and also of dubious charities beating down your door to get to your pocketbook. So Hair Balls wants to cut through the chaos and recommend you check at Barrio Dogs, a nonprofit working to fight animal cruelty and neglect in low-income neighborhoods.

One of the key ingredients is the organization's Youth and Paws (YAP) program, which involves presentations on spaying and neutering, as well as the overall humane treatment of pets. Some of the presentations include visits from dogs the group has helped, and these dogs also work as "Rescue Education Ambassador Dogs" (READ -- Barrio Dogs is big on acronyms) for one-on-one reading sessions, as a way for kids to increase their reading comprehension.

The "Tales to Tails Reading Program" is designed especially for kids in schools in low-income communities who have a tough time reading. As the Barrio Dogs website states, "the presence of rescued dogs enhances the children's fluency in reading as the animal reduced their self-consciousness and distracts them from the fear of being 'judged' by people." Hey, sounds good to us. Barrio Dogs volunteers also bring rescue dogs to nursing homes and children's homeless shelters, with an aim to "bring comfort, distraction and hope" to patients, and foster long-lasting positive associations for kids who've never had a pet.

The group's Better Communities program helps provide donated food and shelter/fencing materials; the "Freedom Fence" initiative hones in on owners who chain their dogs because they don't have a fence. (Barrio Dogs volunteers are careful to conduct follow-up visits to make sure everything's legit. We sorta wish there was a way to chain the owners to a tree, but we'll have to find another non-profit that provides that particular service).

Gloria Medina Zenteno started Barrio Dogs in March 2010, a few years after returning to the East End from a sojourn in the suburbs. Horrified by the glut of stray and abused dogs in her neighborhood, she started Barrio Dogs as a way to raise money and awareness to fight the problem in the community. Since then, her volunteers have visited schools throughout the city -- the word has spread, it seems, but not the donations.

"I got involved with a lot of great rescue groups," Zenteno tells Hair Balls, "but I just felt like with the rescuing, it was neverending, so I started Barrio Dogs." Because she didn't have the resources of the established rescue groups who can take in hundreds of animals, she decided to focus on education and community outreach.

"My plan was more just kind of a community-type group," she says. "I took on my street, my surrounding blocks....[then[ it just took off."

Although the group doesn't operate a shelter, they use donations to cover vet and boarding expenses on whatever dogs they are able to help; this doesn't leave much for the group's main mission of education and community outreach. That's where you and your big heart come in. Please check out the Barrio Dogs website and look at the work they're doing. (By the way, they can always use fosters or adopters, as well).

Zenteno will thank you, and the dogs will lick your face. Or maybe it's the other way around, we're not sure. Either way, your donation will be greatly appreciated.

Link to article.

2011 - A Year to Remember

Friday, December 9, 2011

Youth and Paws at Berry Elementary

Barrio Dogs is especially proud of the progress we have made with our Youth and Paws (YAP) program this year. We would like to share a few photos from our visits to Berry Elementary in Houston between November 28, 2011 and December 9, 2011.

During the holiday season, please think about our youth and donate to our Barrio Dogs Amazon Wish List so children like these can benefit. Unfortunately, Barrio Dogs is spending nearly all its available budget on veterinary and boarding costs for rescued dogs, leaving only a portion of funds available for the educational programs at the heart of Barrio Dogs' mission.

We look forward to our Youth and Paws (YAP) program reaching even more schools and children in 2012. If you are interested in volunteering or donating, please email

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Barrio Dogs Therapy Program at the House of Tiny Treasures

The Barrio Dogs Therapy Program is proud to partner with the House of Tiny Treasures, a nationally accredited early childhood education program. Located in the Greater East End of Houston, most of their families reside in area shelters and other temporary housing.  We are so glad to be able give back in this way.

Chloe, our Rescue Education Ambassador Dog (R.E.A.D.) is a veteran now at
the House of Tiny Treasures.
Our new therapy dog Henry loved meeting the children and was comfortable with all the attention.
Our hope is that these children will have an early understanding of proper animal care. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Therapy Dog Program

Barrio Dogs and Community Education

We believe it takes more than dog rescue to make a change. Because of your support, Barrio Dogs has been able to increase its community and youth education efforts. We hope you continue to support our growing grassroots movement for animal welfare in the low income communities of Houston, Texas and would like to share some recent highlights of our work.

After an educational presentation at Browning Elementary, Chloe, our Barrio Dogs Rescue Education Ambassador Dog (R.E.A.D) hangs out with a new friend.
Henry, one of our newest Youth and Paws Education Rescues, had a great time with some of his new friends at the Pet Octoberfest in the Greater North Side.
Thanks to Barbara Johnston and Kathy Taylor with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for inviting Barrio Dogs to give a presentation. Grace Ruiz, Barrio Dogs Creative Director of Educational Materials and Barrio Dogs founder, Gloria Zenteno, truly love seeing an agency with employees who want to improve animal welfare in their community.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sadie is Adopted!

A very special adoption! Sadie has a wonderful new family. D'Ann Potter Greer and her family are the proud new owners of our Sadie. A big thanks to Lawrence Benavides for saving both Sadie and Mason. Both are in great homes now.

D'Ann and her family, Lawrence and Sadie
Sadie and Mason when Lawrence rescued them

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mason is Adopted!

Sweet Mason has been adopted. We wish him and his new family the best of luck!


Halloween weekend was busy for us. One great event was PetOberfest, sponsored by the Northside Management District and GO Neighborhoods. The event featured free spay/neutering for dogs and cats, reduced-cost vaccinations and educational materials about pet care.
Many thanks to our volunteer Grace, shown here with the coloring contest winners

Also present was rescue dog Henry. Can you believe this beautiful boy was found homeless in Greater Northside with no microchip, no tags and a heavily matted coat? After Sophie’s Doggie Spa got a hold of him, he looks beautiful  and loves everyone including cats, dogs and children. He is well-behaved and low key, a perfect ambassador for rescue dogs.

Barrio Dogs in Urban Paws Magazine

Please read about Barrio Dogs in the November 2011 issue of Houston Urban Paws Magazine!

Friday, November 4, 2011

2011 Howl-o-ween Dog Walk

Many thanks to the volunteers who represented Barrio Dogs at last Saturday's Howl-o-ween Dog Walk!
Barrio Dogs volunteer (and Shaggy's mom) Laura with Miya Shay and her Yorkie
Volunteer Rachel brought Clara, who was also glad to help
Many visitors stopped at our table, including this one who got out early for good behavior

Halloween at the Barrio Center

Barrio Dogs and the Hispanic Business Student Association–University of Houston Chapter collaborated on a Halloween Party for children at the Barrio Center in the Greater East End. Barrio Dogs volunteers Maria Ivanez and her brother dressed up in Mickey and Minnie Mouse costumes. Also, the children were excited by a special visit from Barrio Dogs Therapy Dog Tyler along with Education Volunteer Gurukarta Khalsa.  Our youth are the key to better animal care in the future and we are both privileged and grateful to have these opportunities to work with children.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Barrio Dogs Visits Browning Elementary

Barrio Dogs education volunteers recently visited Browning Elementary to spend time with some wonderful students. The Barrio Dogs Tales to Tails program helps children practice their reading skills by letting them read aloud to one of our therapy dogs, in this case, sweet Chloe.  Chloe is also one of our Rescue Education Ambassador Dogs (R.E.A.D).  Many thanks to Jennifer Washam and Maria Ivanez! Education is the solution.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fundraiser for Bettter Communities

Update: Barrio Dogs for Better Communities

Our adopted family the Ortega's made huge progress with the ownership of their new family pet, Cookie. Our support team, Gurukarta Khalsa and Jennifer Washam, spent time educating them on proper nutrition, the importance of flea and heart worm preventive, kennel training, leash walking and the need to have Cookie spayed.

Cookie had the luxury of staying at the wonderful Meadowlake Pet Resort while she recovered from her spay day. Cookie is now completely vetted and happy and settled in with her family who has completed the Barrio Dogs for Better Communities program.

There are many families that can benefit from this support. We would love to educate more families but it takes donations and resources. We encourage you to find a family in your community that can benefit from this program and to donate to help us provide the support. For more information on how you can help, contact us at

Monday, October 3, 2011

Barrio Dogs Visits Fletcher Mission

 Barrio Dogs of Houston had their first Education Day at the Fletcher Mission. We were able to give the children there an educational presentation on animal welfare and let them meet some rescue dogs. Big thanks to Noe Ortiz with Fletcher Mission, Sophie’s Doggie Spa, Susan Giles, our Barrio Dogs Education Volunteers and Therapy Dog Pepper. The children also got to meet rescues Hap and Roxie.

A special thank you to those of you who donated books and supplies that helped make this event happen. We will be back at Fletcher Mission in the spring and look forward to our continued visits to educate these children about proper animal care. Thank you also to Nicole Bean for these photos taken during the event.

All photos by Nicole Bean

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Texas Humane Legislation Network Conference

Barrio Dogs was very happy to attend the Texas Humane Legislation Network conference in Houston on September 23-24, 2011. Delegates from around the state attended the conference to hear, among other things, about several new laws protecting animals that were passed by the Texas Legislature during its most recent session. Barrio Dogs' founder and president Gloria Medina Zenteno spoke about our work during the conference and many delegates stopped at our table to pick up literature and learn more about us.
Special guests at the conference included members of Rescue Ink; here is Gloria with several of them.
 Gloria spoke during one of the conference sessions about our work.
Photo courtesy of Bean Photo
Rescued Barrio Dogs Mason and Hank also attended the conference. Although Hank looks worried in the picture below, he and Mason had a great time, were well behaved and made many new friends. Both Mason and Hank are still looking for their forever homes.

Many thanks to the THLN for allowing us to attend and participate in their conference!
Photo courtesy of Bean Photo

Friday, September 23, 2011

Students in The Company of Dogs

This great educational video about responsible dog ownership was created by students in the Chicago public schools. It addresses many of the same issues we face here in Houston regarding proper treatment of and interaction with dogs in the community but in a fun and enthusiastic way. Enjoy!

Community Education at Browning Elementary

Barrio Dogs Educational Volunteer, Jennifer Washam, U of H Interin Maria Ivanez along with Rescue Education Ambassador Dog (R*E*A*D*) Chloe recently visited two 4th grade classes at Browning Elementary to give a presentation on the basics of canine care and behavior.

Through a video, question and answer session and a quiz on canine body language, the students were able to get a better understanding of how to not only properly care for their own pets but how to deal with unknown dogs they may encounter.

The students especially enjoyed the opportunity to hear how Chloe came from a background of abuse and neglect, but with lots of love and training, has learned to trust again and give back to the community. Barrio Dogs looks forward to more chances to reach out to the community on our educational mission.

Looking for a Forever Home

Apache, Copper, Ricky, Abby, Eve and Ethel of Barrio Dogs Houston were all rescued and now are looking to find their forever homes. In the meantime, Pet Paradise JFK has become their wonderful temporary home! If you would like more information on these guys please visit:

Huge thanks to Pet Paradise JFK for caring for the Barrio Dogs!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Scout is Adopted!

Scout joins Shaggy in the backyard of her new home
A rare story of opposite rescues now joined together. The story starts with our first rescue, Shaggy, who lived homeless for close to a year in an undeveloped property in the middle of the high-rent Galleria area. The other rescue, Scout, had a different life as part of a pack of homeless dogs in the Warehouse District of Downtown Houston.

Shaggy's and Scout’s paths crossed when they were boarded together after their rescue. During their brief meeting in boarding, you would have thought they had known each other their whole life. They played together with expressions of happiness and joy, the way it’s meant to be for these lovely creatures. Sadly, their rescue life took them into different directions. But by an act of faith, their paths crossed again.

Shaggy was very lucky and was adopted soon by a wonderful owner. Scout waited close to a year. We experienced an unfortunate situation when we almost lost Scout. Remembering their prior relationship, Shaggy’s owner heard of the story and she decided to take Scout into foster care.  

Their reunion was huge. They seem to remember instantly where they left off. Better news came a few days ago, when Shaggy’s owner decided to adopt Scout as well. These two rescue girls from different lives are now a rare chance of happiness that not many receive.

Please allow us to thank the many involved in this happy ending: Laura Radler, Wulfe & Co., Karen LaBarba, Linda Sullivan, Lone Star Animal Recovery, Kelle Mann Davis, Gulfgate Animal Hospital, AC Boarding & Grooming, Natural Pawz – Sage, Ernie Zenteno, Mike Dominquez, Holly McDonald, Carole Yunkers and the many supporters and donators for these precious rescues. We thank you. 

Help the Barrio Dogs' Program at Fletcher Mission

Barrio Dogs of Houston is teaming up with Sophie’s Doggie Spa to educate the youth in their community on animal welfare.  The downtown Fletcher Mission is inviting us for a Barrio Dogs Youth Education Day.  The Fletcher Mission helps the youth in this community where animal abuse and neglect is in abundance. 

Our first event is to provide an educational presentation to approximately 50 children.  Our goal is to make a change and stop the cycle of animal neglect in this community and many more.

In order to make this event a success we are asking for your support.  Below is our “Wish List” items.  Would be helpful to have before or on the day of the event, Wednesday, September 28th.  You can also make donations to Barrio Dogs of Houston via PayPal/Google, here. All donations are tax deductible.


We have several books on our list, one is (Shelter Dogs: Amazing Stories of Adopted Strays).  This one and several others can be purchased online, here.

Gift Cards to Hobby Lobby or Michaels to purchase gift bags and educational items.
Gift Cards to Sam’s Club to help with providing snacks and drinks.

Gloria Zenteno – Founder of Barrio Dogs of Houston
Anna Bermudez – Owner of Sophie’s Doggie Spa
For more information, contact

Friday, September 2, 2011

Adopted, Part 5

Lucky and his new family
Gigi and her new mom

Rescue "Damian" Means Hope for Us

Yes, we cannot take in another, but we also cannot turn our back on this neglect.  We are calling our new Barrio Dogs rescue “Damian”.  Ms. Damian was the finder and rescuer and Barrio Dogs is committed to his vet and boarding care.  He was discovered with a family in Mason Park Terrace, Greater East End Houston.  The resident was starving and doing nothing positive for Damian.  He deserves and will receive only positive hope now.  He was taken to Gulfgate Animal Hospital, where he started his treatment for scarcoptic mange, given a medicated bath, antibiotics for his skin, plus medicated drops for his eyes.  He is on his way to feeling better.  Please help us with the long journey of care for Damian.

The resident has been reported to the authorities and our hopes is they will never do this again.

HOW TO GIVE: Donations can be made via our website at PayPal/Google, or mailed to:

Barrio Dogs of Houston
P.O. Box 230677
Houston, TX  77223-0677

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pet Adoptions at Natural Pawz in the Heights

Please join us at our upcoming adoption events at Natural Pawz in the Heights!

Saturday, September 3, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Saturday, December 10, 2011

All events will be at Natural Paws in the Heights, 514 W. 19th Street from 12:00 noon-4:00PM.  We will be looking for volunteers and fosters to help out.  Please mark your calendar and sign up to help at