The Chihuahua Project is essentially a free spay and neuter program. The Humane Society of Silicon Valley has teamed up with San Jose Animal Care Center to provide these services to Chihuahuas and Chihuahua mixes living in specific zip codes of Santa Clara County, California.
A $200,000 grant from PetSmart Charities was issued originally in 2011 which helped spay and neuter a total of 3,177 Chihuahuas. With the free spay and neuters offered by The Chihuahua Project, the number of surrendered Chihuahuas in the target area dropped by 12.5%.
Additionally, when The Chihuahua Project was completed, the Berg family was so inspired by PetSmart Charities' grant that they stepped in and issued a $250,000 matching gift challenge to build future capacity for spays and neuters. Still, the Humane Society Silicon Valley is currently seeking funds to continue The Chihuahua Project for the next two years in targeted zip codes to ensure that the number of owner surrendered Chihuahuas stay down.
I was fortunate enough to be able to ask the President of the Humane Society Silicon Valley, Carol Novello, a few questions about the Chihuahua overpopulation problems that plague Santa Clara County, California and how The Chihuahua Project is helping.
Why is the Chihuahua population, specifically, so large right now?
"We believe that the small dogs have grown in popularity over the years due to the convenience of owning a small dog, the popularity of the chihuahua breed in the TV and Movie industry, and the economy that has put pressure on people to reduce expenses by choosing not to spay or neuter their dogs (typical vet costs can be as high as $350 for a dog spay) and tempt them to create extra income by backyard breeding."
Does The Chihuahua Project offer any special community education programs for the public?
"We have wrapped our messaging of the importance of spaying and neutering into our existing education programs that touch over 8000 children a year in Santa Clara County."
What would you advise a Chihuahua owner that has no experience breeding, but wants their dog to have babies for the "cute factor"?
"We would educate the owner on the dangers of breeding Chihuahuas without experience. Many Chi’s are put at risk by poor breeding and during delivery they have pups that are too big and the mother’s life is placed into danger by a puppy getting stuck in the birth canal. Often times the intended litter is completely lost and the mother comes close to dying or in many cases her life is lost. Breeding should be left to the experienced breeder. If the family wants to experience the “cuteness” of puppies we have a fabulous foster program that they can get involved with and have the joy of cute puppies year round that need their help."Special thanks to President Carol Novello for taking the time to answer these questions. If you'd like to have your donation to the Humane Society Silicon Valley matched, please visit www.hssv.org and look for the spay/neuter matching challenge.