IMPERIAL — Hundreds of dog owners grinned proudly as their dogs happily wagged their tails during the second annual “Bringing the Bully Heat to the Imperial Valley” dog show and competition Saturday.
The event was hosted by Shogunz Bully Crew and Sparta Boxing and sanctioned by the American Bully Kennel Club.
“It’s great, the turnout was even better than expected,” Shogunz President Hernan Mendez said. “It brings out the community and gives something positive to do and gives a positive outlook on the breed.”
Event visitors could win free leashes, shop for elaborate dog collars, buy from breeders or even admire an edible dog cake by local bakery “A Thing Called Cake” made especially for the competition.
The event also featured a jumper, children’s games, food, drinks, music and displayed show bikes and cars.
“It’s a good event, a family event,” said El Centro resident Carla Lopez. “It brings everyone together. You get to meet people from everywhere.”
Dogs, as well as their owners, smiled as they posed for photos, and strangers could routinely be seen going up to other strangers to pet their dogs or talk about them.
“It shows how the pit bulls are, that they’re friendly,” Shogunz member Christina Garcia said. “It also gets different cities together to support each other.”
“It’s definitely something different from the usual,” Shogunz member Christian Perez said in agreement.
The event was also a chance to learn about various breeds including the hairless Xoloitzcuintles, bulldogs or bull terriers.
Efren Godoy of GDK Family, a Southern California kennel, said that pit bulls are leaner and skinnier while bullies are thicker, mixed-breed dogs.
“Each kennel has different blood lines and styles,” he added.
He enthusiastically praised the event for promoting awareness of the breeds.
“Anything that takes away the negative side of these dogs, it’s good,” he said. “The good thing about these dog shows is that people come out here and just fall in love with these dogs.”
Crowds lined up to watch the numerous competitions, and more than 350 ribbons, including one for best in show, were awarded in the ABKC-sanctioned competition and the fun show.
There were even categories for children to compete in.
“When kids compete, everybody wins. Bully up!” Mendez said with a smile.
Multiple local businesses sponsored the event and some, like emcee “Money Mike,” donated their time at the event.
The event raised funds for the nonprofit youth sports program Sparta Boxing. Funds raised last year paid for kids uniforms, said Fernando Lara, owner of Sparta Boxing Club in El Centro.
“Everyone benefits from it because you’re giving kids an alternative to going to the streets and getting involved in gangs and drugs,” he explained. “They get a workout and good discipline. The entire community wins in the end.”
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