spcaLA in the News
The Guardian | New York | Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
A dog named Bubbles and nineteen of his fellow chihuahuas on Tuesday boarded a flight from Los Angeles to Houston, where they are now up for adoption. The airlift is part of an animal shelter’s program to send surplus dogs from California to other parts of the country to be adopted by owners who might otherwise turn to puppy mills.
Bubbles is the 500th chihuahua to be transported by The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Los Angeles (spcaLA) as part of the Air Chihuahua program.
The group created the program in 2009 because of a large supply of chihuahuas in the Los Angeles area, where more than 60,000 chihuahuas are registered. That year, animal rescue centers in California reported a spike in the number of abandoned chihuahuas.
While looking for a way to deal with the problem, spcaLA president Madeline Bernstein heard from shelters across the US that there was a high demand for chihuahuas and other small dogs. In those communities, people would instead turn to puppy mills and adoption websites to get special order small breeds.
“If we were The Gap and we had pink blouses out here that didn’t sell and you had pink blouses selling out in Miami, you wouldn’t make more pink blouses, you would ship the ones from one store to the other,” said Bernstein. ”The more I thought about it, the more I thought maybe if we could start doing that, then people wouldn’t be as inclined to order a little dog over the internet or order a little dog from a puppy mill breeder or find a little dog in a pet shop.”
Bernstein said that the popularity of chihuahuas and other small dogs was bred years ago after celebrities like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears paraded their tiny dogs in front of the paparazzi.
“All of a sudden it became really clear, for some deranged reason, that because of the celebrity factor and the film industry and everything, this [small dogs] seems to be the need,” said Bernstein. “So, if we’ve got them, we should make sure other people are able to get them.”
The first Air Chihuahua flight took place on New Years Eve 2009 and brought a batch of chihuahuas from Los Angeles to Denver, Colorado, where every dog was immediately adopted.
The donor-driven program has also brought surplus chihuahuas to New York, Washington, Florida and Canada.
Air Chihuahua dogs have been flown on special charter flights, in climate-controlled cabins and in crates below seats in the main cabin of passenger jets.
United Airlines sponsored the Houston-bound canines’ flight in a special climate-controlled area that is frequently used for animal transport, which abides by a “last on, first off” directive.
More chihuahuas are set to be shipped out on a 30 September flight to Miami, Florida.
By Amanda Holpuch
CBSLA.com | Los Angeles | Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
NBC Los Angeles | Los Angeles | Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
Too many Chihuahuas and small breed dogs have inundated Southern California, so the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles will fly them to a new life in another state on Tuesday.
Twenty Chihuahuas and small breed pooches will make the trip out of Los Angeles International Airport Tuesday morning to Houston, Texas.
Tuesday marked the 500th flight since the start of the program that aims to end puppy mills.
The toy breed is in demand in other areas of North America, which inspired spcaLA to send the extra pups to places where prospective owners are vying for them.
The program, aptly named “Air Chihuahua,” paired with United Airlines to transfer the dogs, and is a 100 percent donor-supported program.
The program started in 2009, and has flown dogs all over the world via commercial and private planes.
It often takes months for Chihuahuas to get adopted in Los Angeles, whereas they are scooped up within days once transported to animal welfare organizations in other states.
By Heather Navarro
ABC7 Chicago | Los Angeles | Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
The 500th Chihuahua of the "Air Chihuahua" rescue program flew to Texas from Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday.
The program from the Los Angeles chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals matches the overwhelming supply of the breed in Southern California with the demand for them in other parts of the nation.
Air Chihuahua, in collaboration United Airlines' PetSafe program, flew 20 rescued Chihuahuas and other small dogs to Houston, where the demand for Chihuahuas is said to be higher than in Los Angeles.
"I love this program. We started it about five years ago on the theory that if we have the supply and there's a demand elsewhere, we should fill that demand with live animals that are already in existence and not encourage people to order animals from puppy mills or pet shops or from other countries," said Madeline Bernstein, president of spcaLA. "Until every animal that can be placed in a home is placed in a home, everybody should stop making more."
Bernstein says the flight is climate-controlled so that the animals are comfortable.
"We couldn't do this without the help of the airlines donating the flights. United donated the flights and a lot of our supporters fund our ability to use the airlines," said Bernstein.
The next flight will be to Miami later this month, according to the spcaLA.
By Marc Cota-Robles