December 10, 2009 in Nation/World

Shelters glutted with Chihuahuas

California centers fly dogs to other states for adoption
Maria L. La Ganga Los Angeles Times
 
Associated Press photo

An adopted Chihuahua, James Bond, rests his head at the Animal Care and Control center in San Francisco on Wednesday.
(Full-size photo)

SAN FRANCISCO – If every dog has its day, the Chihuahua’s, it seems, may be on the wane.

Representatives from half a dozen San Francisco Bay Area animal shelters and rescue groups asked the public’s help Wednesday in remedying a serious statewide glut of the petite pooches.

“All the shelters in California are seeing an upswing in Chihuahua impounds,” said Deb Campbell, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco Animal Care and Control department.

A third of the dogs held at San Francisco’s city shelter are all or part Chihuahua. New ones have come in every day for the past year. If the trend continues, officials said, the shelter would become 50 percent Chihuahua within months.

San Francisco dubbed the outreach “Chihuahuapalooza”: 50 yipping, shivering canines jammed into a small lobby with TV cameras rolling.

Meanwhile, as Chorizo, Buddy and James Bond were introduced in Northern California, animal officials were meeting in Los Angeles to hatch plans for Flying Chihuahuas, The Sequel.

There are so many Chihuahuas in Los Angeles city shelters that the animal services agency airlifted 25 last week to Nashua, N.H., where the local Humane Society found all of them homes within a day.

The operation was funded by actress Katherine Heigl and the Jason Debus Heigl foundation. It was so successful that the city is preparing to fly out 40 more as soon as donations for the airlift are procured and the Chihuahuas are readied.

Animal lovers blame Hollywood for California’s surplus.

The pint-sized pups with outsized personalities grew more popular after Reese Witherspoon’s character in the 2001 movie “Legally Blonde” accessorized her wardrobe with a Chihuahua named Bruiser.

Paris Hilton’s Tinkerbell was a regular on the “The Simple Life” reality TV series. Then came the 2008 Disney comedy “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” in which a pampered dog named Chloe gets lost while on vacation in Mexico.

And who can forget Gidget – the star of a popular series of Taco Bell commercials – who last summer succumbed to a stroke at age 15.

Such media saturation fueled demand for the dogs, and breeders overdid it, Campbell said.


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