Post-Christmas puppy ownership often leads to a surge in dog surrenders, according to the NZ Chihuahua Rescue Trust (NCRT) in Christchurch. Founder Casey Walters anticipates a significant influx in February. As owners struggle with the complex and costly needs of the breed. Walters emphasizes the misconception that chihuahuas are like interactive cats, highlighting the importance of proper care, training, and socialization.

Casey Walters, from NZ Chihuahua Rescue Trust, helps rehome small dogs.
Casey Walters, from NZ Chihuahua Rescue Trust, helps rehome small dogs.

Chihuahuas: Special Needs and Challenges

Chihuahuas, despite their small size, require regular exercise, social interaction, and dedicated attention. Walters emphasizes that they are not merely “interactive cats” and need time and effort invested in their care. The breed is prone to various health issues such as breathing difficulties, heart disorders, and neurological conditions. Dental problems and eye disorders are also common, despite their endearing physical features.

Most dogs are with the centre for about three months before finding new homes, but some with complex needs stay on much longer.
Most dogs are with the center for about three months before finding new homes.

Behavioral Challenges and Misconceptions

Owners often treat small dogs differently from larger breeds, inadvertently creating behavioral problems. Walters notes that people tolerate behaviors in small dogs that they wouldn’t allow in larger dogs. This leniency contributes to the stereotype of chihuahuas being “yappy little things,” unfairly tarnishing the reputation of the entire breed. Proper training and consistent boundaries are crucial for their well-being and socialization.

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Spencer, Walter's personal dog, is an award-winning show dog.
Spencer, Walter’s personal dog, is an award-winning show dog.

Rescue Efforts and Responsible Breeding

The NZ Chihuahua Rescue Trust was established in 2017 to provide shelter and care for abandoned dogs from puppy farms, backyard breeders, and struggling owners. Walters urges potential owners to avoid “dodgy breeders” and opt for reputable, accredited breeders to ensure the health and well-being of the chihuahua they bring into their lives. She emphasizes the importance of responsible breeding practices to combat puppy farming and backyard breeding.

The N CRT’s Frustrations and Achievements

Walters acknowledges the misconceptions surrounding the need for a chihuahua rescue trust in a city with a “huge” chihuahua community. Despite the community’s size, the NCRT has successfully rehomed over 40 dogs, with each adoption involving an average fee of $500. Walters shares her personal experiences fostering and caring for chihuahuas, highlighting the emotional attachment formed while emphasizing the need to make space for more rescues.

Spencer, Walter's personal dog, is an award-winning show dog.
Spencer, Walter’s personal dog, is an award-winning show dog.

The NZ Chihuahua Rescue Trust sheds light on the challenges associated with chihuahua ownership, emphasizing the importance of responsible care, training, and understanding their unique needs. By dispelling misconceptions and promoting responsible breeding, the trust aims to create a better future for these beloved, yet often misunderstood, little dogs.

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