California animal shelters are being inundated with chihuahuas as people abandon the tiny dogs that can seem so charming in movies or in the arms of celebrities but actually require considerable care and patience. As overrun shelters ship chihuahuas to other states in hopes of finding them new owners, animal rights activists are blaming Hollywood, noting that Paris Hilton, Reese Witherspoon's "Legally Blonde" character, and the film "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" misrepresent the breed as a stylish accessory. Puppy mills, which rushed to feed the demand, and fickle owners have also come under fire. Who should shoulder the blame? (Watch Jimmy Kimmel make fun of California's chihuahua problem)
Chihuahua owners should have known these dogs are "nuts": Before taking a chihuahua home, people "should have to sign a contract" saying they "realize that chihuahuas are not normal dogs," says Darla Atlas in The Dallas Morning News. Chihuahuas can be a great source of joy, but they "need lots and lots of attention." My chihuahua can be an "evil demon" and I fully understand why others gave theirs up when they discovered their little darling was "nuts."
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Animal shelters are making matters worse: It's no surprise that many clueless owners have decided that chihuahuas aren't as "easy, cheap," and "compliant" as they dreamed, says Ruth Fowler in The Huffington Post. But pawning off these "unwanted creatures" on new owners who are equally ill-prepared to care for them isn't the answer. Transferring the problem to other states is "vastly irresponsible."
Politicians need to step in: This isn't the first time Americans, or greedy puppy mills, have let their excitement over a breed cloud their judgment, says a New York Times editorial. Before chihuahuas, pit bulls held "the unhappy title of most popular, most unwanted breed." Politicians should "discourage reckless breeders and pass laws requiring spaying and neutering."
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