Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Chihuahuas flooding shelters, rescue groups warn


They're tiny, they're cute and they're besieging animal shelters from San Diego to Northern California.

The Chihuahua glut has become so severe that representatives from half a dozen San Francisco Bay Area shelters, surrounded by 50 yipping, shivering Chihuahuas, begged animal lovers today to help them find homes for the petite pooches.

In Los Angeles, only pit bulls outnumber Chihuahuas in the city's shelters. At the Peninsula Humane Society in San Mateo, 60% of the dogs awaiting adoption are pure or mixed-breed Chihuahuas. At the San Francisco Animal Care and Control shelter, Chihuahuas are 30% of the canine population and rising. At the East Bay SPCA, it's 50%.

"A few years ago, we joked that wouldn't it be great if all these pit bulls were Chihuahuas," said Allison Lindquist, executive director of the East Bay SPCA. "Now they are. This is what happened with pit bulls, Dobermans, German shepherds and other dogs that become popular through TV and movies."

The pint-sized pups with outsize personalities became increasingly popular after Reese Witherspoon's character in the 2001 movie "Legally Blonde" accessorized her Pepto Bismol-hued wardrobe with Bruiser  as she plied the halls of Harvard.

Paris Hilton's Chihuahua, Tinkerbell, was a regular in all five seasons of "The Simple Life" and went on to publish a 2004 "memoir" called "The Tinkerbell Hilton Diaries."

And then came the 2008 comedy "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," about little Chloe, who gets dognapped in Mexico and has to escape from an evil Doberman.

"People get enthralled with the movies and think dogs have a certain type of personality," said Kathy Davis, interim general manager of the Los Angeles Animal Services agency.

"They bring the dog home and they don't spend sufficient time to train and socialize the animal, and unfortunately the Chihuahua doesn't become the star it was in the movie," she said. "The dazzle wears off, and the shelters end up with the pets."

From Dec. 1, 2008, to Nov. 30, 2009, Los Angeles shelters took in 4,741 Chihuahuas, up from 3,779 the previous year. "Our adoption rates are also up on Chihuahuas, but unfortunately not sufficiently enough to handle the huge intake," Davis said.

--Maria L. La Ganga in San Francisco

Photo: An adopted Chihuahua, James Bond, rests his head at the Animal Control and Care center in San Francisco. Credit: Russel A. Daniels / Associated Press.

Comments () | Archives (31)

PEOPLE! Dogs are not throw-away toys. If you get one, it's a member of your family, to be treated decently for its entire life. If you can't deal with the responsibility, don't get a pet. Please.

Very sad and typical the way some think animals are disposal.

This makes me so sad :( I am a huge pet person and in fact donate money and supplies to our local shelter from my at home jewelry sales. I belive pets are family and like family you have your ups and downs and work through them. Pets are friends for life and require care and responsibility !!!

What Chiquis said. Ignore fads and think, "is right for our family for the rest of both our lives?" If the answer's not a definite YES, don't get the pet. Go play WoW or something equally mindnumbing.

Bottom line, most people think animals are property. In my hood, the amount of backyard dogs and backyard breeding is disgusting. If Animal Control actually stood behind it's laws and starting fining, heavily...I bet these people would wise up. And we'd have less State financial woes.

Which is why you buy a "real" dog and not these "cute" (NOT) things. Otherwise, stick with jewelery!

I have 5 chihuahuas and I would not even consider sending mine to a shelter ever!
My dogs are my babies just like my cats are my babies, people if you get a chi, you must train it or it will run all over you.
If your kids are even the slightest bit mean to any animal, never give them a chihuahua, they can and will bite to defend themselves and they can be very fragile dogs, depending on their size, we have 2 that are under 3 pounds and 3 up to 7-8 pounds. and we do have to be careful not to step on them, they do get underfoot, but they can be the greatest little pets in the world if you take care of them.
Having a dog is like having a toddler for the entire life of the dog, so consider this before you get any breed.

Dogs truly bring joy to one's life. So many dogs and not enough loving homes. I just can't understand why the city of Los Angeles continues to issue permits for dog breeding in residential areas. I live next door to a pit bull breeder and those poor dogs are in their kennel 24/7. The minute these poor dogs hear or see their owners they bark loudly and howl (almost sounds like they are crying!)desperate for attention. This makes for a very depressing and stressful way of life for the rest of us. As a homeowner the city of Los Angeles has taken my rights away..the right to peace and quiet enjoyment....

Paris and the producers of Legally Blond need to make very large donations to shelters that are dealing with this problem.

Chihuahuas are like, so hot. I wanna like, get one and dress it in like, cute outfits and stuff.

You know in pre-Colombian Mesoamerican societies, once a family got bored of their dog, they ate them. Guinea pigs too. Horse is quite popular in enlightened Europe and if you have chorizo south of the border, there's a good chance you're eating mule.

Just saying....

I see the same thing here in Bakersfield.

I'm looking to get a dog from the pound, but they're all Chihuahuas or pit bulls. That's definitely on each end of the spectrum from what I was wanting.

How do I contact the shelter for adoption? Please send information to my email address. Thank you for taking care of these little helpless creatures. Marjorie

I gave my chihuahua Chip a forever home 4 weeks ago after he was rescued by a dog rescue centre from a high kill shelter in California. He had been given 72hrs to live. :( Now he's being spoilt rotten complete with a cowichan sweater up here in a slightly cooler Canada. People! Think before you commit to a dog! They're not disposable!

People need to do research before getting a particular dog breed. You can't pick one based only on 'they look cool.' Certain breeds are bred for certain jobs: a sheepdog or retriever is going to want to run, a dachshund is going to want to dig. If they aren't allowed to do what they were bred for, they will be unhappy and take it out on you and your family.

My mom has a chihuahua and i have to say that that dog is the stupidest, most useless of all dog breeds! The little bastard is impossible to train! He is 5 years old and he still barks and yelps at common visitors! He still pees everywhere and he also pees when he is nervous or if i want to pet him!

This is a breed of dog that people should do without. They are too high maintenence and they shed everywhere all over the furniture.

Ill stick to socializing with other human beings, thank you very much!

Unfortunately many people who adopt small, cute dogs don't think they need to be trained and chihuahuas are notorious for fearful-aggressive behavior (think napoleon). It is not surprising there are so many in shelters and many probably have severe behavior problems.

Chihuahuas are yappie, noisey, and irritating. That is why people give them up. I think they are ugly.

Yo quiero Taco Bell...

Where's Paris Hilton when she could do something positive?

People went nuts for Dalmations because of Disney, for English Bull Terriers because of Spuds McKenzie, Chihauhuas because of various movies and Taco Bell.

From all this the only reasonable conclusion is that a large group of people are hopelessly stupid.

I think everyone who thinks clearly about dogs and pets in general could see this coming, but still it is sad.
What a horrible waste.
Please, think before you act when buying or adopting a pet.

How sad!
I adopted a Chihuahua/Jack Russel mix this January and noticed there were many more pitbulls and chihuahuas than any other breed at the shelter. I thought it was because of where I live and how certain cultures prefer "mean" dogs such as pitbulls, or little chihuahuas because of their namesake city. Apparently this issue is widespread and I was wrong. Maybe a disclaimer can be added to all movies and shows that have animals as the stars? "Warning: these animals are highly trained and in no way reflect their true nature. Before buying, do research. If you still want it, adopt." Hmmm, I'm just dreaming. If someone is ignorant enough to buy a dog because they think it will be like the one in the movie they saw, it's not likely they will have read the disclaimer.

I love my Jack-Chi by the way. He is the best dog in the world and whoever dumped him at the shelter, I would like to say "Thank you" because he's in a great home and I love him to bits. I can't imagine what has happened to all those other dogs I saw that day in the shelter. I can only hope they were adopted as well.

Hopefully...there will be very good caring people who
will now try to obtain a pet dog from these shelters as
these pets also give back love in companionship because
of your care and comfort...
thank you for trying to give these pets a home to stay.

The stupidity of these pet owners. As LA continues looking more like Tijuana, this is one of the results.

1 2 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: