20 Chihuahuas – and pug – leave animal shelter for new homes

By Debbie Carson, Online Editor

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – A little more than a week after taking in 75 Chihuahuas and a pug, 21 are ready to leave the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County and settle into their new homes.

Janet Winikoff, director of education at the Humane Society, said that the quick turn-around for the dogs is due to the generous support of several veterinarians who offered their assistance in sterilizing the dogs and administering vaccinations. The pug, aptly named Pugsley, has found a home with a Humane Society staff member.

Another 30 Chihuahuas are nearly ready to go home to their forever families, but the dogs still need to be spayed/neutered and get their shots.

Last week, Winikoff said that it could take months to adopt out the Chihuahuas, based on how long it would be to get the dogs sterilized and vaccinated, to assess their behavior, and to screen potential adopters.

Adoption counselors have been working with adoption applicants for the last several days, same as the Humane Society’s pet behavior coordinator, who has been assessing the dogs.

“People are pretty pooped here,” Winikoff said of the whirlwind of activity the society has seen since taking in the breeder-relinquished Chihuahuas.

“Some dogs still have to stay,” Winikoff said, explaining that for health or behavior reasons, the society has decided to hold off on adopting the dogs out.

Along with receiving assistance from various veterinarians, including those from Highlands Animal Hospital and Dr. Judith Oliver, the Humane Society has also received a tremendous amount of support from PetSmart Charities.

PetSmart Charities donated $4,000 to help underwrite the cost of sterilizing the dogs and giving them their rabies shots. The organization also donated 500 pounds of dog food, which should last the Humane Society a couple weeks, Winikoff said.

“We’re just so grateful,” she said of all the support, including the numerous donations that the community has made.

While many of the Chihuahuas have been spoken for, there are hundreds of other animals at the Humane Society looking for their new homes, too.

Volunteers and staff members have taken to renaming all the breeds at the facility to work in “Chihuahua” because right now, everyone wants a Chihuahua, according to Winikoff. The cats at the center are now “Chi-meow-meows” and a pit bull puppy there is now a “Pit-huahua.”

Anyone interested in adopting from the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County can go to the facility, located at 6230 77th Street, Vero Beach, or call (772) 388-3331.

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