Miami Beach was a messy city until Yvonne Conza came along. Yes, there were things to do and people to see, but there was dog waste all over the place — on neighbors’ lawns, along jogging trails, and outside of schools and public buildings. Then, in November 2005, Conza and the Polite Poop Control Program created WOOF Patrol, which is now helping to clean the city up.
Conza and the Responsible Dog Owners of Miami Beach first approached City Hall after hearing that dogs were banned from the beach walk. City administration told them the ban was in effect because the doggie-do was a health problem. Conza helped attack the problem with Sergeant David de La Espriella’s idea of having the RDO volunteers wear shirts that display their mission: “Pick Up & Leash Up / Keep Our Beach Bow-Wow Clean and Safe.” While Conza has gotten close with many dogs, her favorite will always be her Shih-Tzu Pomo, who has helped Conza with the Woof Patrol program every step of the way.
AF: Was Pomo the inspiration for the “Woof Patrol”?
YC: Pomo was definitely my inspiration for Woof Patrol. Miami Beach dog owners were on the verge of having their pets banned from the beach walk. Pomo loves the beach walk – he meets up with pals like Ruben and Winston, also Shih Tzu’s. I didn’t know what to
do. I saw his feet marching and WOOF Patrol (www.woofpatrol.com) was born.
AF: Did Pomo rally the other undignified canines in South Beach against the dog ban and how does he participate?
YC: Pomo is a pack leader in community service. He’s always been a go-to Shih Tzu. In December of 2005, Pomo passed a four-week course and became an official therapy dog at St. Vincent’s hospital in New York. He also passed his Canine Good Citizen test. It was on his beach walk strolls where he met up with Ruben and Winston, Penny, a Norwich Terrier; Bogie, a SAG card holding Maltese; Peanut, a rescued Chihuahua; Kobe, an energetic Jack Russell and numerous other four-legged buddies from all around the country. It was on their behalf that I presented their side of the story to City Hall.
AF: Since the Shih-Tzu breed is highly respected as spiritual and royal in ancient Asian cultures, is this how your volunteers thought of their name “The Dog-Ghandi”?
DG: Shih-Tzu is an ancient Tibetan breed, often referenced with the connotation: “Lion Heart”. They were known as the Royal dog and perfect companion. Pomo continues the tradition, expanding his kingdom to include the Miami Beach walkway. That’s WOOF Patrol … the pet-protectors of the Miami Beach walkway.
AF: How has Pomo ultimately helped your business on a daily basis?
DG: Pomo is our business. So is Ruben, Winston, Peanut, Bogie, Penny, Kobe and so many more. Our business is our dogs. And when they ‘do business’, we pick up after them.