There is a Chihuahua overpopulation crisis, and many pet experts are blaming Paris Hilton and other Hollywood Starlets who flaunt the little dogs as fashion accessories.
Animal Shelters - especially in trendy California - are full to bursting with the little woofies, who were purchased and then dumped when people get tired of caring for them.
"Chihuahuas are not a toy or fashion accessory," said Lynnie Bunten, chairperson of the Chihuahua rescue for the Chihuahua Club of America in a recent interview reported by FemaleFirst.co.uk. "But because some people think they are, then realize they are wrong - there's a growing problem of abandoned Chihuahuas."
She says that many young girls see Paris with her dog Tinkerbell and want to emulate her. Because of this, the club will not allow adoptions to anyone under the age of 21.
"They just want the dog for the wrong reason," Bunten stated in the article. "I think it's just plain silly when you see a woman walking around with a Chihuahua in her purse because she thinks it's fashionable.
Movies like "Beverly Hill Chihuahua" and "Legally Blond" have not helped matters. A similar situation occurred when Taco Bell was using the adorable pups in their advertising campaign.
While the shelters try their best to place the dogs, many sadly, are euthanized as unwanted.
Some of the shelters have been criticized for their attempts to get the dogs adopted as well. A shelter in Santa Barbara, California, held an "Adopt A Chihuahua Week" - offering a fur-trimmed pink carrying case to anyone who adopted one of the little woofies from them. But this simply furthers the image of the dogs as a fashion accessory! Instead, pet experts suggest reduced adoption fees, free training classes, and responsible ownership packages including vaccinations and free bags of food as better incentives.
In 2005 readers of two different dog magazines voted Hilton the worst pet owner in show biz. At one point Hilton "lost" Tinkerbell, and replaced him with a smaller, cuter Chihuahua. Tinkerbell had reportedly gotten too large to be toted around in Hilton's purse. Since then she's also been seen with a ferret and an illegal kinkajou monkey.
Tinkerbell became a celibri-pup after he was glamorized in a book called "The Tinkerbell Hilton Diaries: My Life Tailing Paris Hilton" in 2004. While he's still on the scene, she's definitely not the only pup in Hilton's purse.
Last year (2008) the hotel heiress was investigated after admitting she owned 17 dogs, allegedly breaking U.S. laws that ban non-breeders from having more than three per address.
While websites like famouschihuahua.com provide good information for dog owners, they also glamourize the pups. More information on these miniature woofies can be found at the Chihuahua Club of America.com which also has a listing of rescue organizations by state.
The American Kennel Club(R) reminds potential owners about the importance of making careful, educated decisions when considering adding a dog to their home. People can help ensure that all Chihuahuas - and all dogs -- find themselves in loving, life-long homes by consulting resources such as The Chihuahua Club of America and the American Kennel Club.