SF SPCA is tackling Chihuahua overpopulation head on

Chihuahuas are available for adoption in record numbers these days.

In San Francisco, an epidemic is in progress. About 50% of the dog populations in Bay Area shelters are comprised of Chihuahuas and Chi mixes, according to Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, co-president of the SF SPCA. So she, and her organization, decided to tackle the issue directly, strategically, and with goals everyone could embrace.

The first piece was to stem the flow of overpopulation through an aggressive spay/neuter campaign that began in March and continues through May 31. For the duration of the campaign, the SF SPCA is offering free spay/neuter to all Chihuahuas healthy enough to undergo surgery — even those who live outside the area.

Then, the SF SPCA partnered with Spanish-language broadcasting network, Univision, to help spread the word. The local station’s morning show host, Kira Vilanova, announced on air she’d had her dog spayed and encouraged her audience to do the same. The results have been overwhelming. In a typical five-week period, the SF SPCA sees about 99 public spay/neuters for Chihuahuas. The first five weeks of the campaign, the number skyrocketed to 236.

The second piece was to find happy homes for existing shelter Chis by motivating people to consider adoption now. So, during the the campaign, adoption fees on all Chihuahuas are waived. (For information and analysis regarding the care, treatment, and general happiness of those animals obtained via waived adoption fees, check out this study from the ASPCA.)

Again, the results proved impressive. In a typical five-week period, the SF SPCA adopts out about 18 Chihuahuas, with their length of stay averaging around 19 days at the shelter. For that same period during the campaign, adoptions climbed to 45 and the average length of stay was only 8 days.

Meanwhile, the SF SPCA is preparing to host its annual The Whole Enchihuahua fair on May 18 in Dolores Park in San Francisco. It’s a chance for proud humans to show off their pups and includes a costume contest, games, food, and adoptable pups. If you’re in the Bay Area, come check it out — no Chi required.