A Long Island dog shelter has taken in dozens of Chihuahuas after they were given as Christmas presents and abandoned by recipients.
Laura Zambito, the founder the no-kill shelter Precious Pups Rescue in Calverton, NY, now has 20 Chihuahuas under her care.
“It’s really sad,” Zambito told the New York Post on Thursday. “People give them as gifts and, inevitably, it doesn’t work out and they end up in shelters.”
Breeders and shelters have cautioned against giving puppies as presents.
"Puppies are not stocking stuffers," says an American Kennel Club public service announcement. "Think twice before buying a puppy for the holidays. A dog is for life, not for Christmas."
The season itself is a bad time for raising a new puppy.
"The whole holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year's is a very busy and stressful time," AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson said. "There are many visitors, and family routines are disrupted. Many families do a lot of traveling."
"This is not the best time to get a puppy," Peterson added. "Puppies need attention 24/7.”
Paris Hilton is commonly attributed for the boom in Chihuahua sales. From 2010 to 2012, there were 819 abandoned Chihuahuas in New York City. Animal Care & Control picked up another 1,090 as strays.
“The Chihuahuas seem to be just the one breed people think of as [a fashion] accessory,” said Zambito’s partner Rose Hooghkirk. “They don’t get it. It’s like telling someone not to drive after they drink, but people still do it.”
“These dogs, they’re small, they’re easy to dress up and they look really, really cute — and that’s what people see,” Zambito said.
The shelter is in a hurry to find homes for the pups so they can take in more dogs at risk of being euthanized.