A woman found with 32 chihuahuas and chihuahua mixes living inside her La Puente home told officers she was just trying to save them from life on the suburban streets of east L.A. County.
According to Aaron Reyes at the county's Department of Animal Care and Control, his department was summoned to the Sandia Avenue residence by sheriff's deputies yesterday, who had arrived on "an unrelated call for enforcement" involving someone who lived there. But after coming face-to-face with 32 chihuahuas...
... deputies realized they were in over their heads.
Reyes says that when Animal Control workers spoke to the woman keeping the chihuahuas, "we learned that this adult female has collected these dogs off the street and was doing what she thought was best for them" -- apparently unaware that a 101 Dalmations lifestyle is illegal, and dangerous besides.
"You can't keep them in large groups like that because the small ones won't eat," says Reyes. "They compete for the food."
Other behavioral problems that can develop from the pack mentality is aggression toward and mistrust of people and other animals.
Still, Animal Control officials insist that these guys aren't permanently damaged -- and they're begging you to come down to the Baldwin Park Animal Care Center as early as tomorrow to adopt a hoarding victim as your own.
They're especially desperate because chihuahuas are already the most populous breed in the California shelter system; Reyes estimates that 40 percent of the dogs at the Baldwin Park location are chihuahuas. (Pitbulls take second place.) He partially blames Hollywood for this phenomenon: "A couple short months after [a movie featuring a chihuahua] hits the DVD stands, we start to get them in," he says.
The rescued lot is composed almost entirely of chihuahuas, with the exception of a couple of terriers, a beagle mix and a spaniel mix. If you've ever wanted any shade of chihuahua, now's your chance to choose from a full buffet (including seven puppies!).
But what to do with their former keeper?
Reyes says that Animal Control plans to run her name and look for any history of hoarding. "We hope we dont have someone with a tendency to hoard small-breed dogs," he says. "Because that can turn bad real quickly."
Her house is located in the 1100 block of Sandia Avenue, right near Bishop Amat Memorial High School:
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