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Tag: chihuahuas

Does pinpointing breeds speed up adoption?

lily

In hopes that potential adopters will find a “Chiratoodle” or a “golden Chinscher” more appealing than a plain old mutt or “Chihuahua mix,” an animal shelter in California has begun DNA testing some of its dogs to determine their breeds and market them under more exotic names.

The Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA in Burlingame, south of San Francisco, says initial results show the DNA tested dogs are getting adopted twice as fast.

Not too surprising in a world that prefers labels over mysteries — at least when it comes to what we bring into our homes.

DNA testing is not widely practiced by America’s animal shelters, mainly because of its expense. As a result, most people who adopt a dog from a shelter leave with a mystery mutt, or one whose heritage has been guessed at by shelter staff.

My dog Ace, for instance, when he was adopted nearly 10 years ago, was listed as a “hound mix” on his shelter paperwork, referred to as a “shepherd mix” by shelter staff and listed on Petfinder.com as a “Labrador mix.”

When DNA tests came on the market in 2007, I purchased one, swabbed his cheek and learned he was Rottweiler and Chow. In the next few years, as the tests became capable of identifying more than the original 38 breeds, I tested him two more times. The second test determined he was Rottweiler, Chow and Akita. The third test showed him to be all of those, and a little bit pit bull.

The tests allowed me to answer the question I was asked at least once a day: “What kind of dog is that?” It wasn’t so much that I had to know. All three tests were done mostly as research, for the purpose of writing about them. And once I learned the breeds he was made up of, I kind of missed the mystery.

I don’t think the information is all that vital, but I can understand how a purchaser, or adopter, of a dog might like to know what’s in his or her mix.

In California, the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA conducted the tests in an attempt to increase the adoptions of Chihuahua mixes, which make up nearly a quarter the dogs in its shelter.

The campaign, conducted under the slogan “Who’s Your Daddy?” is aimed at “finding great homes for dogs at risk of being overlooked,” said Scott Delucchi, the shelter’s senior vice president.

“People love mutts. Still, we’re betting shelter dogs with DNA results included, for free, will be quite fetching,” he says in a commercial for the campaign.

The shelter picks up the cost of the $50 tests, which they say can help owners identify what breed-specific traits the dogs might exhibit. The tests also allow the shelter to have some fun coming up with clever breed names — like “Chorgi” (Chiuahua-corgi), “golden Chinscher”  (golden retriever-miniature pinscher-Chihuahua) and “Chiratoodle” (Chihuahua-rat terrier-poodle).

In February, the shelter conducted tests that determined the breed make up of 11 small dogs. All found homes within two weeks — twice as fast as any 11 untested small, brown dogs in the previous months, according to an Associated Press story.

Twelve more dogs have been tested since then and once they are all placed in homes the shelter plans to test 24 more.

Chihuahuas have replaced pit bulls as the most prevalent breed in the shelter, largely due to the “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” movies, and the breed’s popularity among celebrities.

While some visitors to the shelter are seeking Chihuahuas, others are looking for mutts — small dogs who, thanks to another breed being in the mix, might have a less nervous dispositions.

While shelter officials have proclaimed the new program a success, they note that it’s going to take more than a gimmick to reduce the “alarming” number of Chihuahua mixes coming in.

“Another part is making spay-neuter low-cost or free to the community,” Delucchi said. The shelter also exports some of its smaller dogs to shelters in Florida, New York and other states where they are in shorter supply.

(Photo: Lynn and Tony Mazzola, with Lily, their newly adopted  ”Chorkie;” by Eric Risberg / AP)

Dogs dumped on Los Angeles highway

Fifteen small terriers and Chihuahuas were dumped on Imperial Highway in El Segundo last week, but thanks to some helpful humans, many of them are doing fine.

As reported by the Daily Breeze in Torrance, Playa del Rey resident Kellie Sue Peters was on her way to the grocery store when a dog chasing a rabbit ran in front of her car on the busy highway.

When Peters stopped to try and snag the dog, on the highway near LAX, she noticed other dogs, including one that landed at her feet after it was hit by a car.

“I was horrified,” she said. “I just thought I’ve got to help him. … I’m not the type of person who can just walk away.”

The small white terrier mix nipped her hand when she knelt down to get a closer look.

The dog, who she now calls “Carson,” is recovering. Six others were rescued and are being held at the SPCA shelter in Hawthorne. A few more dogs were found the next day, but others were either killed or remain on the loose.

“They were unkempt,” El Segundo police Lt. Carlos Mendoza said. “They could have been strays, or somebody was hoarding dogs and decided to dump them.”

Two animal welfare organizations — including one run by actress Katherine Heigl — are offering a $5,000 reward for tips leading to the identification of the person who abandoned them.

“We are participating in the reward money being offered to find whoever did this despicable thing,” Heigl said in a statement. “People have to be held accountable for this kind of lack of humanity and compassion.”

Although Facebook comments allude to a white van being involved in the abandonment, authorities have yet to confirm that.

Read more »

Chihuahua brouhaha: Was movie idea stolen?

beverly-hills-chihuahuaA Houston-area kennel worker claims the movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” was, basically, his idea, and that the Walt Disney Company stole it from him.

Zenon Yracheta has sued the entertainment giant in federal court, saying the similarities between the movie and a story he wrote called “The 3 Chihuahuas” are many — and that he spoke with Disney officials about his idea in 2006.

Disney has asked a  federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the movie, which was released last year and grossed $130 million, bears little resemblance to Yracheta’s script, according to the Houston Chronicle.

While both stories feature hero dogs, villain dogs, talking dogs, traveling dogs and chase scenes, they have vastly different premises, Disney says.

In Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” a pampered California Chihuahua is taken by its owner’s niece to Mexico, gets lost, nearly winds up in a dog-fighting ring but escapes and is chased by a mean fight master, a sidekick and his nasty dog before finding her roots, romance, and her way back home.

In “The 3 Chihuahuas,” three Chihuahuas escape from their jobs as acrobats in a South Texas circus and head to Hollywood while pursued by their mean ringmaster, a sidekick and his nasty dog. As with the movie, the Chihuahuas have different ethnic personas. In the end they are rescued by a kind woman who turns out to be Beyoncé Knowles’ aunt. The three dogs eventually wind up living in a California mansion with the singer.

Yracheta said he was enraged when he saw the movie last year, jotting down the similarities between the film and his story.

Yracheta said he got the idea for “The 3 Chihuahuas” after three Chihuahuas ran in front of his car in a rural town near Houston. He worked up a three-page story, then commissioned a screenwriter to write the screenplay.

Disney denies the screenwriters saw or were told about his work.

Spotting trends in the AKC’s breed count

lg_havanese10In the process of tallying the numbers of purebred dogs in America — or at least those that are registered — the American Kennel Club detected some interesting trends, such as how the nation’s most popular dog, the Labrador retriever, is losing ground in some towns.

The fastest climbing breed, meanwhile, in terms of popularity, is the Havanese.

According to the AKC figures, more U.S. cities featured a breed other than the Labrador Retriever in the top spot this year than in 2008.

The German shepherd took over as No. 1 in Columbus, Detroit, Honolulu, Memphis, Miami, Providence and West Palm Beach.

The Yorkshire terrier bumped the Lab in Oakland, Tampa, New York City and Philadelphia.

And the bulldog became top dog in Los Angeles (despite other surveys that say Chihuahuas are the most predominant breed there). The AKC says celebrity bulldog owners — Adam Sandler, Kelly Osborne and John Legend among them — might be a reason behind the bulldog’s rise.

In what strikes me as a particularly odd tidbit, the bull terrier — 57th nationally — is the most popular breed in Newark, N.J. (Please feel free to explain that to me if you know the story behind it.)

To find out where your dog ranks nationally (keeping in mind the nation’s most popular dog isn’t a breed at all, but the mutt), click here.

There was only one city in America where the Labrador retriever didn’t factor into the Top 5 – Providence, R.I. In 2008, the Lab was No. 2 in Providence.

Over the past 10 years, the AKC says, the fastest growing breed nationally is the Havanese, having risen from 92nd to 32nd. Also rising quickly in national popularity have been the bulldog (from 21st to 7th); the French bulldog (from 73rd to 24th); and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (from 58th to 25th).

Working K-9 breeds favored by law enforcement and the military have shown modest gains as pets over the same period, with the Belgian Malinois seeing its popularity rise from 95th to 81st, the border collie going from 71st to 52nd, the bloodhound rising from 51st to 43rd, and the Doberman pinscher climbing 23rd to 15th.

The AKC suspects easy-to-groom breeds are becoming more popular, as evidenced by the mastiff climbing from 39th to 27th and the Rhodesian ridgeback going from 56th to 48th. Higher maintenance breeds, meanwhile, such as the  Komondor, the Puli, the Irish terrier and the Sealyham terrier, have all seen their AKC popularity ranking drop in the past 10 years.

Even pre-Bo, the AKC, the Portuguese water dog was on the rise in popularity. The breed chosen by the First Family ranked 80th a decade ago and climbed to 60th in 2009.

(Photo: The Havanese, America’s fastest growing breed/Courtesy of AKC)

Chihuahua hoarder gets probation

The Michigan man charged with animal cruelty after authorities found hundreds of Chihuahuas in his home, live and dead, pleaded guilty in a plea agreement yesterday.

Kenneth Lang Jr. of Dearborn, will serve five years’ probation under supervision of a Wayne County mental health court.

Lang, 56, admitted in the plea that the animals in his home were subjected to abusive conditions because he was overwhelmed by their sheer numbers, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Lang will not be permitted to own any animals. He’s also required to make $3,000 restitution to the Animal Legal Defense Fund for the examination of the dead dogs, and restitution to the city of Dearborn.

Lang’s lawyer, James Schmier, said Lang has an IQ of about 70 and suffers from several psychiatric conditions. “He’s a very human guy with a very human story, and with very human frailties,” the lawyer said.

Lang was found living in squalid conditions with more than 100 live Chihuahuas and more than 100 dead ones found frozen in freezers. The prosecutors said of the 105 that were rescued, all but 13 have been successfully adopted. Those are living in a no-kill shelter.

Chihuahuas fly to where the odds are better

Virgin America flew 15 Chihuahuas from San Francisco to New York this week in an effort to aid the overcrowded population of Chihuahuas in California.

West Coast shelters, overwhelmed with Chihuahuas, have been looking for help from shelters on the East Coast, where there is a demand for the dogs.

Escorted by a veterinarian, the dogs were to arrive at JFK and be picked up by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), which will help them find homes on the East Coast.

Virgin America’s Facebook page documented the flight, with videos and photos posted while in the air.

Chihuahuas driving up shelter population

image001It’s not just Los Angeles, and not just California whose shelters are awash in Chihuahuas.

Phoenix is, too. Maricopa County Animal Care and Control shelters received 821 Chihuahuas in the last two months, according to the Associated Press.

 That’s 230 more than during the same period last year.

As of yesterday, there were 84 Chihuahuas awaiting adoption.

The shelter is offering a special deal this weekend with a Chihuahua adoption fee of only $36.

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