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Abandoned movie dogs -- Chihuahuas and Dalmatians -- and the voiceless foreclosure victims

September 30, 2008 | 11:12 am

Canine_attraction

Oh great. Here we go again.

A cutesy movie about Chihuahas -- that's a scene from "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" above -- and I can tell you before it even opens what will happen.

People will decide they must have a Chihuahua. The puppy mills will go into overdrive to churn out litters of Chihuahuas (and the puppy mills breed a poor dog to produce litter after litter, month after month, until she’s exhausted nearly to death).

People will pay good money for Chihuahuas, and then a lot of them will find that Chihuahuas aren’t the dog for them.

They don’t do the cute things they did in the movies. Like any purebred, they’re prone to their own ailments. And they’ll get dumped, again, at the animal shelter.

It happened with "101 Dalmatians," when people caved in to their kids and bought Dalmatians, and then found out they weren’t animated stuffed animals but living creatures with needs and problems of their own. And Dalmatians got dumped at animal shelters.

It happened with "Babe" –- so cute, so smart, so not suited to many owners. Dump 'em at the animal shelter.

Every time a cute-dog or cute-cat movie comes out, 5% of the box office take –- gross, not net; I have lived here long enough to know about Hollywood accounting –- should go to animal shelters to take care of these bought-and-abandoned "fad dogs."

Already, there are more Chihuahuas languishing for homes in Los Angeles city shelters than any breed of dog but pit bulls. If you want a Chihuahua, go there and adopt one –- it's a lot cheaper than buying one, and it'll send a "thanks but no thanks" message to the puppy-mill operators.

Third on the abandoned list: German shepherds. Which brings me to abandonment, period.

I went by the North Central shelter the other day and saw unspeakable numbers of dogs listed as "owner surrender." People whose houses have been foreclosed on have often just left their pets behind like the front door keys. Do they think their pets can go door to door and find a new place to live?

They are your family; families stick together in times of stress and trouble. And if you think your kids have trouble adjusting to a forced foreclosure move, how much worse to leave a beloved Fluffy or Spot behind –- imagine that your kids would naturally wonder, "Am I next?" It’s only slightly kinder to abandon pets at the animal shelter.

I saw an 8-year-old blonde cocker spaniel, a young Samoyed, a 10-year-old golden retriever, and then I couldn’t bear to look any more. Times are hard, sure. They’re even harder for the animals who love you and depend on you. They deserve better from you.

-- Patt Morrison

Patt Morrison's column appears Thursdays in The Times.

Photo: Daniel Daza / Disney Enterprises Inc.

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