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The Chihuahua glut goes beyond L.A.

beverly_hills_chihuahuaChihuahuas are becoming the most common dog in California’s animal shelters, replacing the pit bull as the breed most often forsaken by owners.

The “101 Dalmatians” effect that many predicted the movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” would lead to seems to have come to pass, exacerbated further by the Paris Hilton effect and, maybe even moreso, the yukky economy effect.

About a third of the dogs in San Francisco’s animal shelter are Chihuahuas or Chihuahua mixes, Kat Brown, deputy director of City and County of San Francisco Animal Care & Control, told Robert Siegel on NPR’s “All Things Considered” Wednesday.

About 60 percent of the Chihuahuas coming into the shelter are owner-surrendered, she said.

“I think it’s because a number of things. Some movies featured Chihuahuas. Also, a pocket pet kind of thing, from some of the movie stars, Paris Hilton. Also, the economy. I think we’re seeing more owner-surrendered animals generally across the board,” she said.

“But Chihuahuas unlike other dogs are more difficult to handle sometimes. People think of them as something, they’re like stuffed animals or whatever. But in fact they’re like a little dog, and they need all of the things that a big dog needs.”

Brown said the phenomenon seems to be California-wide:

“We have shelters from the Bay Area who also have the same sort of problem. Oakland, Contra Costa, Peninsula Humane Society. Silicon Valley. San Jose. LASPCA (in Los Angeles) said to us we don’t have time to count, there are so many of them.”

You can listen to the interview here.


Comment from Paul
Time December 10, 2009 at 6:25 am

The alleged causes listed — economy, fads like the Chihuahuas in the recent movies, et al. if true would result in shelters all over the country having a large influx of Chihuahuas. They don’t.

Here’s the *real* reason, from someone in California on the ‘front lines’ of animal rescue:

There is a very high number of Hispanics in California. Many of them are attracted to Chihuahuas because it’s a mexican breed, and small dogs. They get a dog without putting a lot of serious thought into it or caring that Chihuahuas in general, aren’t good for a home with young kids. They get the dog for a minimal investment — from a friend/neighbor for free, from a backyard breeder or flea market for $50 or so. Absolute minimal investment — financially, intellectually, and responsibility.

They have no clue how to train the dog, nor do they care to learn the proper way. if the dog doesn’t somehow learn by being yelled at or swatted, the dog ends up staying outside, just like their ‘family pet’ did in Mexico.

When the people have to move, or simply get bored with the dog, or get fed up with the dog snapping at them or their kids, or the dog gets sick, breaks a leg from being swatted or trampled by one of their 3 year old kids, etc. the dog is dumped off at the local shelter — a sad little thing that’s learned to be aggressive in order to protect itself, has minimal socialization, training, never vaccinated or licensed, etc. These morons convince themselves that the shelter staff will just wave a magic wand & cure the dog of everything, and that someone else will adopt it & the dog will live happily ever after. Intelligent, decent people like me then try to clean up after their messes, risking personal injury working with the dog, bringing it into our own homes for fostering, patiently working to correct behaviors that any decent human would not have allowed to occur in the first place. That’s if the dog is lucky. The reality is that most shelters don’t have the time, space, or personnel with the willingness & expertise to work with aggressive dogs, even ones that just weigh about 8 pounds.

Comment from Brandi
Time December 10, 2009 at 12:22 pm

To Paul:
First of all, I work used to work in an animal shelter, and I foster animals in my home… it’s not a Hispanic problem, it’s a glamor problem. There is always an influx of a particular breed after a breed specific movies comes out, ALWAYS. Most of the animals I end up fostering are surrendered because the owner saw this cute little animal that is all the rage with the celebrities and in film they, they buy them, and oh darn, these little (and very intelligent) dogs require allot of work to train. That isn’t a Hispanic thing, it’s a glamor thing. Hispanics have been in California for a long, long time, but the Chihuahua issue is fairly new (because of film and celebrity trends). Other issues include that the dog has health issues (which is common for animals from puppy mills [FYI – most puppy mills are ran by whites]) or the their owners were recently laid off and have fallen on hard time and simply can’t provide for their animal anymore… this has effected whites, blacks, Hispanics, I’m sure you get the idea.

I know that it’s easy for people to point the finger at Hispanics for just about anything wrong in California, but guess what, not everything is their fault. And no, I do NOT agree with any kind amnesty program, but I do think people should be able to migrate here LEGALLY. I believe that they should have to the sign the guest book on the way and have a basic concept of the language. And no, I’m not Hispanic, I’m of the Caucasian persuasion. But none of that has anything to do with the influx of these poor little dogs in animal shelters right now, but then again, neither do any of the factoids in your bigoted comment either.