Love is in the air at the Peninsula Humane Society. It may be hovering at shin-level, but it’s there. We just announced our “Sweet Deal” campaign, a creative effort to play matchmaker for our many available Chihuahuas.
As of today, 21 of the pint-sized pups are ready to steal your heart and we’ve made a sweet deal: Rather than charging our usual $120 adoption fee ($95 for senior dogs and $135 for pups), we’ve waived the entire fee.
Going along with the sugary Valentine’s Day theme, we’re making this offer for all caramel, toffee, golden and chocolate-colored Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes. But, if you visit and happen to fall hard for a licorice or cream-colored Chi, I’m sure we’ll extend the same offer.
Why so many? Our shelter isn’t alone. For four or five years, Chihuahuas have been the most common breed coming in (stray or relinquished by owners) to all Bay Area shelters.
A few theories on this phenomenon. First, blame Hollywood. Paris Hilton, other starlets and the lead character in the movie Legally Blond make them look so easy -- easy enough to be purse accessories.
Also, many parents have false expectations. They get the little dogs believing they will be great companions for their little kids. Once the dog lives up to its “ankle-biter” reputation, off he or she goes to the local animal shelter.
Finally, popularity breeds popularity; because the breed is so popular, that leads to many accidental litters. In the end, a perfect storm for a Chihuahua epidemic.
The toy breed needs a good PR person, as they are truly great dogs and among the most beloved pets when owners know what to expect. Pit bulls have lots of knuckleheads and wannabe gang bangers who do a ton of harm to the breed and its reputation, but they also have some of the most compassionate and dedicated advocates I’ve ever seen. Portuguese Water Dogs have the Prez and First Family, beagles have Snoopy, Dalmatians have firefighters, while Chihuahuas are stuck with a fast food and Paris Hilton, the person most famous for accomplishing nothing.
Maybe they need a new name. Many people can’t spell Chihuahua. When in doubt, they toss in an extra “u.” Or, we also see Cheewowa on owner-surrender forms. Some don’t even try and simply go with “Chi.”
Both folklore and archeological finds show that the breed originated in Mexico which is how they came to be named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
But, some historians believe the Chihuahua came from the island of Malta in the Mediterranean. They could have been the Maltese! How about Dogo Mediterraneaneo? Or, since they are so common out our way, the Western Weasel-Dog.
Ok, naming isn’t our thing. But, we are good matchmakers. We’re not simply throwing open our doors and letting folks take what they want. Interested adopters meet with one of our Adoption Counselors, so we can do our best to ensure a good fit, set expectations – especially for families with young children – and make sure the next home is the forever home.
And, the adoption special isn’t our only response to the Chihuahua over-population; we know we can’t adopt our way out of this. We’re also going heavy on spay/neuter efforts. We offer low-cost surgeries at our Coyote Point shelter (call 650/340-7025 to make an appointment), we bring our mobile clinic to targeted communities and offer pet owners free fixes and alter any stray Chihuahuas at no cost to owners who redeem their lost dogs at our Coyote Point shelter.
Now, if we could just get Paris Hilton to keep her dogs away from paparazzi, or better yet, to just go away all together, we’d have something.
To check out our available Chihuahuas like Conchita, Oliver, Rusty or Bob, visit www.PHS-SPCA.org or, even better, visit our new Tom and Annette Lantos Center for Compassion, 1450 Rollins Rd., Burlingame. Adoption hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.