800 Rescue Dogs Cause International Adoption Craze
PHOENIX – The rescue of 800 Chihuahuas in a filthy rural Arizona home last week made headlines around the world.
It was an extreme case of hoarding, which caught the media eye and turned out hundreds of goodwill seekers who then got ugly in the process of trying to adopt the rescued dogs.
Nearly 800 small dogs, mostly Chihuahuas, and 82 parrots were found in a large mobile home near Tucson by the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.
When the news broke on the international media circuit on Thursday, a frenzy descended upon the shelter, said Spokeswoman Jenny Rose for the shelter.
Calls reportedly came in from Germany, Australia and across the nation.
With hundreds of people packing into the shelter to inquire about adopting the dogs, tempers flared and a couple incidents of shoving matches broke out, said Rose.
The sheriff’s department was called to the scene and dispersed the crowds; the shelter then closed for the day.
But on Friday, a crowd of 500 was waiting for the doors to open. To manage the crowds and maintain order, the shelter passed out numbers and had the applicants return in groups of 100 each day since.
“This has been uncharted territory for us,” Rose said. “We would like to give everyone a dog who is interested, but we just don’t have enough.”
To deal with the crowds and overwhelming interest, the Humans Society has had to call in staff members out on vacation, and has cancelled a free spay/neuter event for pit bull owners, which had been scheduled on Friday.
According to Rose, the crowds have not only been overwhelming but persistent in tracking down information on the shelter, and even herself.
One man from Massachusetts dug up Rose’s cell phone number and woke her up with a call Saturday morning.
“He said, I know it’s 8 o’clock there, but I really want a dog,’ ” Rose said.
“Oh, thanks, that’s sweet,” she retorted.
Currently all the adoptable dogs have found forever homes, while those with medical conditions or are yet too young, are in foster homes.
People who were in Thursday’s line and were not able to adopt a dog have been put on a waiting list and will be notified when the puppies mature and the sick ones recover.
As for the lingering crowds of hopeful adopters, Rose said, “You’re just going to have to stop by and see what you get.”
The hoarding case stemmed from an elderly couple, who Rose said, owned the animals and would not part with the pets since they felt no one else could give them a new home.
While no charges have yet been filed against the couple, the home was in poor condition, rampant with urine and feces, said officials.
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