It’s not 101 Dalmatians, but 61 rescued chihuahuas are making themselves at home at the LASPCA in New Orleans this week as they await adoption.
The tiny, bug-eyed dogs were among almost 200 animals found in and around a crowded mobile home recently in Clarence, Louisiana, said LASPCA communications director Rebecca Melanson.
The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office and Lafayette Animal Shelter and Care Center called on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help evacuate the dogs, and the ASPCA, in turn, enlisted the LASPCA in New Orleans to take in dozens of the rescues.
On Sept. 6, a team from the LASPCA was up at 6 a.m. to drive to the central Louisiana hamlet. An animal control officer helped serve a warrant.
Conditions in the mobile home were grim, and the stench was overpowering, Melanson said. The army of small dogs was living in filth. If they aren’t spayed and neutered, a dog population multiplies rapidly, Melanson said.
“It might have started as a multi-pet family that very quickly got overwhelmed,” Melanson said. “That can happen really quickly.”
But, she said, “they were being taken care of. They were very clearly fed, they had access to food daily and clean water.”
Vet techs vaccinated the dogs and loaded 61 of them into vans for the trip back to New Orleans, where they were examined, cleaned up and separated into small-animal rooms at the shelter.
The rest of the dogs were taken by the ASPCA to shelters out of state. There were also a number of cats, who were brought to the Lafayette shelter.
Since they’re used to being together, the dogs at the LASPCA are bunking two and three to an enclosure.
While they don’t appear to be purebred chihuahuas, most do have the endearing bulbous heads and knobby knees typical of the breed. Some have the classic chihuahua bat ears, while others peer out beneath floppy beagle-style ears.
Most are brown and white. None is more than 20 pounds, and the average size is about 8 pounds.
About a dozen of the older, more timid dogs were packed off to foster homes right away for extra doses of love and socialization.
Melanson described the youngest dogs as typical puppies: “happy go lucky, ready to play, super trusting of humans.” But none of the dogs is aggressive, she said.
The chihuahuas received another set of shots and, starting next week, they’ll all be spayed or neutered. Once the petite pack has a clean bill of health, they’ll be available for adoption, Melanson said.
“Small dogs are in high demand,” she said. “They never last long.”
In the meantime, donations of toys, supplies or cash to defray the small dogs’ expenses are welcome.
For those interested in a tiny new family member with a big personality, “the best advice is for people to keep an eye on our website,” laspca.org, Melanson said. It’s updated in real time, every five minutes.
The shelter also has a feed for lost and found animals, the best place to look for lost pets during the 72-hour hold on strays, she said.