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More California Chihuahuas to be transported out of state for adoption in response to shelter glut

Chihuahua A local organization plans to transport 35 Chihuahuas  to new adoptive homes in Colorado this week. It's an increasingly popular solution to the overabundance of Chihuahuas in California animal shelters.

SpcaLA, a private rescue organization that operates adoption centers in Long Beach and Hawthorne, is the latest group to move adoptable Chihuahuas to other parts of the country where there are fewer small dogs to be found in animal shelters. 

Actress Katharine Heigl's foundation recently arranged the transport of nearly 70 Chihuahuas to a New Hampshire humane society, which found new homes for each of them almost immediately.

SpcaLA was able to afford to move the dogs thanks to a private donor, Leslie Capin, who recently won $1 million in Paw Nation's Cutest Dog Competition and decided to use the money to help pets in need.  Pet Airways, the animals-only airline that launched earlier this year, offered a discounted fare.  Their flight is scheduled to depart Thursday morning from Hawthorne Municipal Airport. A Denver-based rescue organization will arrange for them to be adopted in Colorado, where shelters are crammed with larger dogs but few small ones are available for adoption. 

Proponents of the plan to transport Chihuahuas to other states argue that doing so is a way of killing two birds with one stone.  "By moving the supply to the demand, we are negating the need for purchasing from an unscrupulous backyard breeder or puppy mill and reducing the current population of Chihuahuas" in California shelters, spcaLA President Madeline Bernstein explained. 

But some fear that dogs adopted in far-off states will not have a similar safety net to those adopted from local rescue organizations -- which typically provide ongoing support to new pet owners and will take back a previously adopted animal if things don't work out.  But Chihuahua-transport supporters believe that, by working with reputable rescue groups in the states to which the dogs are sent, they can ensure that adopters have knowledgeable local advisers to turn to if they need help with their new pets.

According to Kathy Davis, interim general manager of Los Angeles Animal Services, the city's municipal animal shelters take in more than 300 Chihuahuas each month.  Shelters in the San Francisco Bay Area report similar numbers, with many in the rescue community placing at least part of the blame for the number of owner-surrendered Chihuahuas on pop culture.  "We call it the Paris Hilton syndrome," Deb Campbell, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco animal care and control department, said in an interview with The Times' Maria L. La Ganga.  

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-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Kenya, a male Chihuahua available for adoption through spcaLA.  Credit: spcaLA

 
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