October 4, 2008

New Disney Film May Spur Chihuahua Adoptions

By Sandra T. Molina

DOWNEY - Friday's opening of Disney's latest family fare, "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," may be good for the studio's pocketbooks and moviegoers, but may not be for the four-legged canines featured in the flick. Local animal shelters are concerned that a Chihuahua buying frenzy will ensue.

"Much like what happened after the '101 Dalmatians' movie, we tremble at the thought of impulsive puppy purchases, which may ultimately end up in our animal shelter in just a few short weeks," said Dan Morrison, executive director of the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority.

The SEAACA is a municipal joint-powers agency serving 13 cities in Los Angeles County, including South El Monte, Pico Rivera, Downey, Montebello, Norwalk, Pico Rivera and Santa Fe Springs.

"Beverly Hills Chihuahua" tells the saga of Chloe, a ritzy Beverly Hills Chihuahua, voiced by Drew Barrymore, who finds herself lost while on vacation in Mexico.

The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control will be hosting Chihuahua Adopt-a-thon events at four of its six animal shelters today - including Baldwin Park and Downey - in an effort to promote shelter adoptions of the dog breed.

"What we are trying to do is raise awareness of how many Chihuahuas we actually have available that need homes," said Michelle Roache, deputy director for the department. "Anyone who might want one after seeing the movie, instead of going to a store and buying one, we have them here."

Chihuahuas make up about 20 percent of the pet population at the county's six shelters, with the largest numbers at the Downey and Baldwin Park facilities, according to officials.

There are now more than 50 abandoned Chihuahuas at the Downey facility, said Capt. Aaron Reyes, director of operations of SEAACA.

And nearly 30 Chihuahuas are currently housed in Baldwin Park's shelter, according to county records.

"We appreciate the entertainment value of movies like this one, but viewers need to be cautious about making a rash decision," Reyes said. "Bringing an animal into your home takes a great deal of thought and responsibility."

Disney officials said they have been trying to promote responsible pet adoption in conjunction with the movie's release.

The Los Angeles city animal shelter had a booth set up at the movie's premiere, according to Roache, and the movie's main character, "Papi," was a day away from being put to sleep when he was snatched up from a shelter for the film.

For more information, call (562) 803-3301.

Staff writer Tania Chatila contributed to this report.

[email protected]

(562) 698-0955, Ext. 3028

(c) 2008 Pasadena Star-News. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.