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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)

Steven your grammar is atrocious. If your going complain, albeit obliquely, about the perceived increased in the Mexican population at least learn to write properly in English. Obviously you do not live in LA otherwise wouldn't make such ignorant statements. We love our Chihuahua Chikis. Viva la Chihuahuas!

Funny how people manage to plug in their bigotry into any subject.

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

Posted by: Steven | December 10, 2009 at 08:21 AM"

YES DUFUS because the chihuahua is the official dog of Mexico. Ignorance is bliss, eh?

Where are these people getting these dogs from?Any reputable breeder would inform these families about the temperments, etc of them. They are major barkers, first of all. If you live in a apt. or condo They bark incessently and you won't have happy neighbors. I live in a condo where there are a million small breed dogs. It's intolerable. And the owners just dont seem to care. And the humane society WILL take them away if there are enough complaints. How ignorant are these dog owners that they don't ask if the breed of dog is compatible with their lifestyle. Thse dogs do not belong in attached housing. It is just a nightmare.

The problem with shelters is that they're filling up with dogs people don't want. Pit Bulls and Chis are two breeds I'd never consider adopting, I'd rather not have a dog at all.

My neighbors have 5 ankle biting Chihuahuas that run lose trying to bite anyone who comes near their house. That's why shelters are filling up with the little devils, not because of media exposure. Chis have a reputation as fear biting, yappy, terrors that can't be trained. My neighbors keep their nightmare Chis outside because they can't housebreak their dogs, another real issue in owner turn ins at shelters.

There's no problem adopting out Golden Retrievers or Poodles. It's dogs that only a certain segment of the population likes and breeds the heck out of and people can't handle.

I love all the anmials that God has placed here for us to enjoy here on earth-I have a small apple head chihuahua in tan color he is the little guy of the house.We have a rott.,amini.daushund and a pit bull they are all rescued dog's that no one wanted and they are so sweet and loving I would not trade them for anything.My dog's are all taken care of and loved by my whole family even the grandchildren-the dog' can hardly wait for them to visit next.I think it depends on the family they are raised by and the love and time u spend with them-If I could help in any way to rescue one of those chihuahua's I would I just dont have the money to send for one,but I send my prayer's to those who do take special care of them....Cheri

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