Is Pop Culture to Blame for California's Chihuahua Crisis?

 |  Dec 10th 2009  |   46 Contributions


Paris Hilton with her accessory, er, dog, Tinkerbell (Photo: Reuters)

Not only is California reeling from a budget crisis, but now it's knee deep in its very own Chihuahua crisis. The state so many Chihuahuas who need homes that shelters have taken to shipping them out of state, where they're still in high demand.

James Bond rests his little head after he manages to get adopted from a San Francisco city shelter (Photo: AP)

These bulgy-eyed, trembling dog-ettes have replaced pit bulls as the dog breed most likely to be found in shelters in the state, according to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Everyone's juggling Chihuahuas. It's nuts," Deb Campbell, spokeswoman for San Francisco Animal Care and Control, told the Chronicle. "These days you hear a lot of 'awwwww's around here. They're awfully cute."

Among the signs of California's Chihuahua overruns:

In San Francisco's shelter, Chihuahuas account for about one-third of the dog population. In Los Angeles and San Jose, about 40 percent of shelter pooches are Chihuahuas.

Shelter volunteers in Oakland have driven the dogs to shelters in a few other Western states, where they're snapped up almost as soon as they arrive. Coming soon: A charter plane to jet the diminutive dogs beyond state borders and into welcoming arms.

Katherine Heigl and friends of the Chihuahua and non-Chihuahua variety. She helped save 25 Chihuahuas last week.

Last week, actress Katherine Heigl sponsored the transport of 25 Chihuahuas on death row in a Hollywood shelter to two New Hampshire shelters. "The response has been phenomenal," Karen Bill, of the Humane Society for Greater Nashua of New Hampshire, explained to PeoplePets. "We had more than 40 voicemails Thursday morning from families inquiring about these dogs. I can guarantee we'll have a line out the door starting at 9:30."

What's behind California's Chihuahua craze? Some blame pop culture, from Paris Hilton and her Chihuahua menagerie to the movie Beverly Hills Chihuahua to the controversial old Taco Bell ads.

"People see these dogs and think they're cute accessories, but they're not. They're living beings that need attention," says Bill.

We'd love to hear from Dogsters with or without Chihuahuas about this "only in California" situation. What do you think has caused this problem? If it's really pop culture, why just the Goldent State? And what's the solution?

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