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Yes, We Have Some Chihuahuas

Sacramento SPCA takes in more than 150 animals from an overcrowded home

For a while last summer, the Sacramento SPCA in California appeared to be hosting a Chihuahua convention.

“We did have Chihuahuas parked everywhere,” says Rick Johnson, the SPCA’s executive director.

The private, nonprofit Sacramento shelter, which typically houses at least 300 animals, took in an additional 158, including 138 dogs (primarily Chihuahuas, but also some larger dogs such as border collie and Great Pyrenees mixes), 12 cats, three rabbits, three rats, and two mice.

Portable wire cages housing multiple dogs were stacked in an open area, says Lesley Kirrene, the organization’s public relations director. Runs were filled with larger dogs and groups of Chihuahuas. The dogs essentially took over an entire building. Though the situation was well-managed, Kirrene says—with staff and volunteers keeping the area clean, and giving the dogs several walks a day—feeding time produced an ear-splitting racket.

Rescuers from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Kern County Animal Control had removed the animals in July from substandard conditions at a Chihuahua “rescue” in Tehachapi, Calif., about 320 miles south of the capital city. The SPCA got involved because it was well-positioned to help, with an in-house behaviorist, dog trainers, a knowledgeable staff, dedicated volunteers, and the ability to make room for the newcomers.

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