Despite repeated advice from dog shelters, veterinarians, activists, and us, lots of people gave dogs as Christmas presents this year. As the holiday buzz wears off and the new owners start to realize that owning a dog is a bit commitment, a lot of those dogs are going to wind up in shelters. And a lot of those aren’t going to make it to forever homes; like too many shelter dogs in the United States, they’ll wind up on the euthanasia table.
In the video below, Laura Zambito, co-founder of a New York no-kill shelter for small breeds, Precious Pups, talks about how her shelter is bracing for an influx of discarded dogs from the Christmas season for that exact reason. Even without a post-holiday surge, Precious Pups has its hands full: Last month, it accepted 32 Chihuahuas in a single shipment. Precious Pups is now working hard to get all those dogs into forever homes.
Watching Zambito show off the Chihuahua pups is pretty heartwarming, and even cute (that’s a big admission for me; some small breeds can set my teeth on edge), but she’s talking about some very dark realities. Thanks to celebrities such as Paris Hilton parading them around in public as fashion accessories, Chihuahuas have become very popular dogs, often with people who aren’t ready for the responsibility. But sometimes, being the favorite of the cool kids isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. That popularity, according to Zambito, has made Chihuahuas the second most euthanized dog in the United States.
“A dog is for life,” Zambito says in the interview. “It shouldn’t be given for Christmas. We don’t condone that.”
One of the dogs that Zambito shows off is a Chihuahua named Vanilla, who was found wandering the streets wearing a little dress, but with no ID that could be used to return her to her owners. That’s symbolic of the problems of owners who casually decide to get a dog: There’s money for the cute, frilly dress, but not for tags or a microchip. In Vanilla’s case, it looks like there might not have been money for a vet, either. She came in with mammary tumors, which Zambito says will be removed by Precious Pups. She and the others can be thankful that they wound up at a no-kill shelter, unlike so many others who won’t make it through the year.