California's latest export: Unwanted Chihuahuas

Chihuahua with flag hatMany trends have started here on the Left Coast and migrated east across the United States. Add to that list this latest entry: Chihuahuas.

Yes friends, we apparently have too many of the little toe-nippers, and rather than just continue to euthanize them in our already overcrowded county animal shelters -- where they apparently surpass pit bulls as the No. 1 dog calling a county cell home -- we have taken to shipping them to other parts of the country, places that Paris Hilton and her Tinkerbell have only flown over.

The problem is this: Turned into a pop-culture icon by dogs like the aforementioned teacup Tinkerbell and Bruiser, Reese Witherspoon's pink-clad accessory in "Legally Blonde," the breed's popularity grew and the fickle public being the fickle public, well, the bulging-eyed pups followed those 101 Dalmatians right to doggie death row: the public animal shelters. Los Angeles animal shelters report about 300 Chihuahuas are turned in each month; similar numbers are reported in the Bay Area.


But placing blame aside, when Californians and their dogs have a problem, we know how to fix it: We call in a celebrity -- in this case actress Katharine Heigl -- who coughed up $25,000 to fly a gaggle of Chihuahuas from L.A. to the Humane Society for Greater Nashua (HSGN) in New Hampshire. Not once, but twice -- with maybe more doggie relocations to follow.

And it worked. The New Hampshire animal shelter director told PeoplePets that they had more than 40 voice mails the day after the dogs arrived and the initial batch of 25 dogs were all in new homes within a day.

The dogs were bathed, sterilized, tested for heart worms and fitted with little coats before their flight, Kathy Davis, interim general manager of Los Angeles Animal Services, told the Los Angeles Times. The operation was so successful that the city flew out a second batch, bringing the total to about 70 dogs relocated. (No word on how the sun-worshipping SoCal pooches are faring thus far in the New England winter weather, but like many Angelenos, we suspect they would have preferred Hawaii.)

And like any good idea, it was bound to spread like a bag of knocked-over Kibble. SpcaLA, a local private rescue organization announced plans to transport 35 Chihuahuas to new adoptive homes in Colorado this week. Pet Airways, the animals-only airline that launched earlier this year, has apparently offered a discounted fare. Colorado shelters, it seems, are more the country's norm -- filled with larger dogs, some of them bully breeds, with few smaller dogs available for adoption. California's Chihuahua glut is the rest of the country's scarcity, so why not spread them around?

Now if we could only distribute other surpluses the same way.

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