JustOneMorePet

Every Pet Deserves A Good Home…

Shelters Full of Chihuahuas

By FIELDING BUCK
The Press-Enterprise
 

“Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” which earned $29 million over the weekend and topped the Inland box office, is alarming some animal advocates who fear it will lead to an upswing in abandonment.

“I’m appalled by this movie,” said Meredith Brittain, who runs a small pet-rescue operation in Devore.

Rescuers say they were already overrun with abandoned Chihuahuas because of the stalled economy’s impact on pet owners and media overexposure to the breed from Taco Bell commercials and Paris Hilton paparazzi shots.

The arrival of an eye-poppingly cute Disney picture filled with talking critters is the equivalent of one more bank closure, they say.

“It’s been the worst year ever,” said Ann Pollock, of a San Diego County Chihuahua rescue operation.

Experts urge people who may be thinking about getting a Chihuahua to adopt at a shelter or rescue agency instead of breeders, stores or online ads. People who have seen “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” say it may send a positive message about abandoned animals. The title character is homeless after being stolen.

      

Carrie Rosema / The Press-Enterprise
Shelter officials say people interested in adopting Chihuahuas do their research and don’t judge animals solely on looks.

Both its canine leads were adopted by the film’s animal trainer. Rusco, the male who plays Papi, was saved from Moreno Valley Animal Shelter in November 2006, after his owner refused to claim him.

“Fantastic movie! I loved it,” said Denise Raymond, office supervisor for animal services, who went over the weekend just to see Rusco’s big debut.

The fear, however, is that the film will cause a repeat of what happened in 1996 when Disney released its live-action “101 Dalmatians.” Filmgoers rushed out to purchase purebred puppies they quickly found they didn’t want.

Brittain said problems begin with buying instead of adopting.

“They buy puppies. They dump them when they turn into dogs.”

Brittain fears people will see “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” go out and buy a male and female and then try to sell the resulting litter at $50 a pup.

      

Experts urge people who may be thinking about getting a Chihuahua to adopt at a shelter or rescue agency instead of stores.

She said a “flood of unwanted dogs” has created gridlock in the rescue system. If potential owners are waiting, then rescuers can’t place the dogs.

“We’re doing this out of our grocery money, most of us,” Brittain added.

She said can she can only handle one or two dogs at a time and does not publicize her activities because if she did she would get eight to 10 calls a day.

There is a high percentage of Chihuahuas in the animal-rescue system, experts say.

Kathleen Summers, program assistant, for puppy mills with the Humane Society of the United States, said that when the organization heard about the “Beverly Hills Chihuahua, it did an informal survey of Southern California shelters.

“Almost all of them said they were the most common breed they rescue.” She said five had Chihuahuas come in on the day of the call.

Rescue Me… Please!
      

Carrie Rosema / The Press-Enterprise
Stacie Gendreaux, of the Riverside County Department of Animal Services, holds a Chihuahua.

Brian Cronin, division chief for San Bernardino County Animal Care and Control, said that on Monday there were 21 Chihuahuas or Chihuahua mixes and about 50 small-breed dogs out of 172 dogs in the shelter system and 297 animals total.

Among them are two “five-week-old guys” that had to be bottle-nursed in foster homes provided by staff.

John Welsh, spokesman for Riverside County Department of Animal Services, said that on Monday there were 94 Chihuahuas or Chihuahua mixes in the county’s four shelters.

Determination of breed is done by the staff. “None of our animals ever have papers,” Welsh said.

Teryn Hartnett, Riverside County’s senior animal behaviorist, said the region’s shelters see a lot of pit bulls and Chihuahuas because of “two different demographics”: the people who breed pit bulls for defense and the people who see paparazzi favorite Paris Hilton posing for photo ops with her pet, Tinkerbell.

A happy ending isn’t guaranteed animals that enter the shelter system. Welsh said Riverside County handles about 30,000 animals a year and about half have find homes. The rest are euthanized.

“It’s a statistic we’re always trying to improve.”

Cronin and Robert Miller, director of Riverside County Animal Services, took steps to neutralize the impact of “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.” They are on the board of California Animal Control Directors Association, which drafted a letter of Disney president and CEO Robert Igor.

Dated Aug. 8 and signed by board president Kathleen Brown, it states that in California shelters, one animal is euthanized every 63 seconds and that “Chihuahuas are small, easy to acquire and frequently abused in high-volume breeding operations.”

Cronin and Welsh said that Disney responded by including a pitch for responsible pet ownership in the film’s publicity.

Chihuahuas are high-energy dogs that require a high level of commitment. Hartnett said one factor to consider is whether you’ll enjoy taking them for regular walks.

Chihuahuas will be a companion for a long time. Small dogs can live up to 20 years, Hartnett said.

“That dog might be in their house longer than the children,” she observed.

She advises people who are thinking about adopting animals do their research on breeds and then bring their whole families to shelters to meet the animals. Don’t judge on looks or color, she said. Judge on temperament.

Summers advised people to be realistic in their expectations. “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.”

“They don’t understand the difference between a cute Chihuahua that jumps into your arms in the movie and a Chihuahua in your house.”

Riverside County: www.rcdas.org

San Bernardino County: www.sbcounty.gov/acc

Moreno Valley Animal Services: www.moreno-valley.ca.us/resident_services/animal/ index_animal.shtml

Permalink: https://justonemorepet.wordpress.com/2008/10/10/sheltors-full-of-chihuahuas/

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October 10, 2008 - Posted by | Animal Abandonement, Animal Rights And Awareness, Just One More Pet, Pet Abuse, Pets, Political Change, Stop Animal Cruelty, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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