Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Tucson 800 Dogs and Then Some

This is the puppy who started it all for me. Who knew this tiny puppy would inspire me to become a Chihuahua rights activist of sorts?

As you might have seen in the news by now, we were "off" with the numbers. The hoarders didn't have 100 dogs. They had nearly 800, which are being referred to as "the Tucson 800" by some.

It was funny. We were in bed already when a friend texted me. "Just saw the news - 800!" it read. I thought she must have accidentally added a zero. Andrew and I got up and looked online for news. Our jaws dropped!

Of course, Arizona Chihuahua Rescue wanted us to take one or two immediately, but we still had Duckie so we didn't have the space. Since then, however, Luckie Duckie has been adopted out at Muttropolis (yesterday, as a matter of fact). All three of the rescue dogs were adopted within two hours!

BUT, we still don't have space for even one of the Tucson 800 because lo and behold - we rescued a dog off the sidewalk on Friday! We got in the car and drove past a little scruffy dog running down our street. He was nipping at a guy on a bicycle. "Is that your dog?" we asked? Of course it wasn't. "It's making me nervous that it might get hit by a car" he replied. We agreed. I followed the dog about two blocks, Andrew got me a lead, some dog treats and we scooped him up.

Now what? We knew we couldn't take him to the overwhelmed PACC or Human Society. We called the AZ Chi Rescue and asked for advice. Even though he was obviously not a chihuahua, they agreed to absorb him into the program.

Scruffy appeared to be a terrier-yorkie mix or something. We took him to Broadway Animal Hospital for vaccines (see footnote). His fur was matted and dirty, his teeth covered in tartar, his claws overgrown, his balls obviously unaltered. It was hard to tell how long he had been on the street. He wasn't wearing a collar. What else could we do with him?

We're picking him up from Broadway tomorrow. Let's see how he does in our home.

In the mean time, people have responded to the hype of the Tucson 800 rushing to adopt - which makes me happy - BUT not all is well. There has already been at least one chihuahua who was adopted (from PACC or the Human Society, I'm not certain) who was then returned within 24 hours for being a "biter" and promptly put to sleep. The problem is, you can't assess a dog who has been through this sort of trauma within 24 hours! They are not necessarily biters. At least one of the chis in our group's care was nippy for three days before she mellowed out and became herself - a perfectly normal dog. I mean really, you can't expect immediate perfect behavior from animals who have been bred in the Avra Valley circumstances!

That's why the Arizona Chihuahua Rescue is taking their time preparing the dogs we've absorbed for adoption. The dogs need to be assessed, altered, trained and socialized a little before we can just place them with new owners who may or may not know what to expect! That's why none of our Avra Valley rescues are online yet, much to many people's dismay...

The most important message I want to get out there is, don't give up on your rescue dog so fast! And please don't take any animals to PACC or the Human Society right now because a likely outcome is that you are sending them to their death...

Footnote: I noticed that The Broadway Animal Hospital has gotten a number of poor reviews online. Yes, it is true that Dr. Muller can be strike some as blunt or gruff, and the locale is pretty bare bones. Yet, in Broadway's defense, I have to say that the fact that they do everything in a "minimalist" way is what allows them to get so many dogs medical care for such a low price. I don't know how Arizona Chihuahua Rescue would function without them!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with your blog entry 100%. AMEN!

My huaband and I have two Chihuahuas. They are elderly. After they pass, we likely will not have another pet.

We were considered nuts when we had nine Chihuahuas at one time. We did not plan to have a litter....we were given a "spayed" female Chihuahua by a "nice" old lady. We brought the dog home and she immediately went into heat and had seven puppies with my husband's chihuahua! We didn't want to sell the pups, since it was our own fault for falling for a lie from someone who just didn't want the dog. So we kept and raised all of the puppies. We went into debt for thousands and thousands of dollars due to medical issues with the dogs over the years (bladder stones, congestive heart failure, kidney disease). I committeed to care for these animals - and I have!

I had to restrain myself from going to get another one (or two!) from the Tucson 800. We knew what to expect from this group of dogs, and with my husband and I working full time, we could not commit the time that these dogs need to adapt to "civilized life" and thrive. We also did not feel that our elderly dogs would be very accepting of a new dog(s) at this time.

We were extremely saddened to see how the adoptions were handled at the Humane Society. The shoving matches, grabbing for tags, and Sheriff department "crowd control" that I saw on the news was just disgusting. We know that there are a lot of folks out there who aren't prepared to handle future medical expenses for the dogs, and many of them also don't have time to train or socialize the dogs. I don't think people understand that the Tucson 800 were mostly "wild". They don't know about being potty trained, playing with people, etc. These dogs needed time to adjust, training, AND HEAVY SCREEENING of potential homes/owners. From tragedy, it looks like more tragedy will come. Some of the dogs may be abused when it's found that the older ones have trouble being housetrained. Some will be abandoned, or given back to the animal shelter to be put down. Chihuahuas aren't generally good with children. The news seemed to focus on families with small children - some seeming as though they were picking out living toys. Most Chihuahuas will bite anyone until they feel secure. I pray every day that the dogs have found good homes and that they adjust well and live long, happy lives.