LOS ANGELES — California has more chihuahuas than it can handle, and it has Hollywood to blame.
There are so many chihuahuas at shelters in Oakland, they have started shipping the dogs out of state, said Megan Webb, director of Oakland Animal Services.
They have sent about 100 to Washington, Oregon and Arizona, she said, “and as soon as they get them, they are ready for new ones.”
Chihuahuas make up 30 per cent or more of the dog populations at many California shelters.
And experts say pop culture is to blame, with fans imitating chihuahua-toting celebrities like Paris Hilton and Miley Cyrus, then abandoning the dogs.
The problem appears to be specific to California — shelters elsewhere would love to share the wealth, said Gail Buchwald, senior vice-president overseeing the ASPCA adoption centre in New York City.
“We never have enough supply for the huge consumer demand for small dogs,” she said.
One of Webb’s biggest problems is a lack of money to fly the dogs to other states. Buchwald said she would be happy to help.
“Nothing is outside the realm of possibility here. We have a supply-demand issue,” she said.
Among the reasons for the glut is the breed’s popularity in movies like Beverly Hills Chihuahua and as celebrity pets, said Dave Frangipane, senior co-ordinator for Chihuahua Rescue of Beverly Hills.
A cute puppy can grow up to have adult health problems or become protective and aggressive.
Chihuahas are cute, but vulnerable, Frangipane said.
“People think nothing of kicking a small, yappy dog. And they can be abused by people of all sizes. A toddler can snap a chihuahua’s leg in a second,” he said.