California is "overflowing with Chihuahuas," said Deb Campbell, of San Francisco Animal Care & Control. "People started dropping them off about a year-and-a half to two years ago. We thought, 'this is weird, and this is a problem.'
That's when the department partnered with Virgin America, which is transporting the dogs to the Big Apple
for free. "On the East Coast, it's rare to have them in shelters. There's more of a demand. When we send Chihuahuas there they get adopted right away.There's a shortage."
Not so out West.
"Shelter and rescue groups (in California) are saturated with Chihuahas," says Campbell. "One dog was here six months."
Campbell speculates that the dogs were overbred to meet the demand that existed not too long ago. "People saw them on movies or TV and thought they’re so darn cute, and then they realize it’s too darn much. They can be a challenging dog. They can have high-strung natures, and be a lot more work than people anticipate. People don’t think about the breed they’re getting into.”
The sour economy is not helping, Campbell says, as people give up pets also because they can no longer afford them.
Campbell says Chihuahuas rival Pit Bulls in terms of sheer numbers coming into area shelters. The dogs have either been abandoned, are strays, or are "surrendered." The agency runs an open door shelter, so it's charged with taking in any animal surrendered by a citizen of San Francisco. "We cannot turn animals away," she said.
And the flow of unwanted members of the breed has not abated. So Operation Chihuahua 4 will probably be launched some time in the future "I'm Sure we will be sending more dogs at some point in time."
As for today's high-flying doggies, they've made it safely to their destination, according to Virgin America's Twitter feed, where loving owners and high rents await.
Video: Operation Chihuahua