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Protestors picket “Chihuahua” premiere

While celebrities walked the red carpet at Thursday night’s premiere of “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” about 20 protesters stood by with signs urging people not to rashly buy chihuahuas after they see the movie.

“We know the movie is cute,” says Kim Sill, who runs the campaign against puppy mills for Last Chance for Animals, the group that organized the protest. “We don’t want to say we’re against the movie. We’re against people going to a pet store after they see the movie.  We want them to go to a shelter, because there are a lot of Chihuahuas there”

Animal welfare advocates have been concerned about the impact the Disney movie — which opens Oct. 3 — will have on sales of Chihuahuas, the Los Angeles Times reports in its pet blog, Unleashed.

Popular dog movies often cause a run on the breed featured. “101 Dalmatians” led to a surge in Dalmatian ownership. But when people realize the dog may not be right for their family — Damaltians are difficult and Chihuahuas are not always great with children –”they get dumped,” says Sills.

When a movie is about to open, puppy mills, she contends, gear up to produce more of that breed to supply pet stores.

There are already more Chihuahuas among registered dogs in Los Angeles County than any other breed, and shelters say they already have high concentrations of the breed.

Some of the Chihuhuas at the Carson shelter, run by the Los Angeles County shelter system, are featured in the video that Last Chance for Animals made to drive home its point about not buying Chihuahuas.

Sill said her group wanted Disney to air a pre-movie public service announcement in theaters, telling patrons to think hard before choosing a pet. “We would have happily produced it for them and given it to them,” said Sill.

The movie’s credits include an advisory that getting a pet is a serious and lifelong commitment that should be researched first.

Ed Boks, general manager of LA Animal Services, saw the movie Thursday night.  “I was a bit disappointed,” he said. “The movie has a strong ‘adopt’ and ‘rescue’ message, but no ‘spay/neuter’ message. In fact, one female dog opined that she longed for a boyfriend who has NOT been ‘fixed.’

“…Disney just does not seem to share our concern over the influence this movie could have on people who will now think of Chihuahuas as cash cows.”  

Comments

Comment from Anne-n-Spencer
Time September 23, 2008 at 2:20 pm

This happens every time a movie or television show comes out that features a particular breed of dog. It’s been going on since the days of Lassie and Rin-Tin-Tin. People who run “breed specific” rescue groups dread these “entertainments” because of the inevitable rush to acquire that particular breed. That’s always followed by the inevitable rush to get rid of the dogs when they turn out not to be as cute, or as much fun, as the “star” of their favorite new movie. Disney had an opportunity to be a real force for good with this movie. Too bad for Chihuahuas everywhere that they blew it.

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