More than 50 chihuahuas are housed at rescues around New Mexico. And after surviving a collision involving a vehicle with more than 60 dogs.

State police said the crash happened early last week when a van was driven by Missael Rodelo, 40, from El Paso. Veered into oncoming traffic, hitting a tractor-trailer head-on on Highway 54 near Vaughn. Police said 65 chihuahuas were inside the van.

“[The police] said…so far, we’ve pulled out 35 dogs, and there are still a bunch of them in there. And some of them were killed during the accident,” Santa Rosa Mayor Nelson Kotiar told KRQE recently.

The surviving 55 dogs were taken to animal control in Santa Rosa.

“I believe there were nine dead inside the van,” Kotiar said. “One of the dogs, we had to put him to sleep because he had a broken back and was suffering badly.”

Chelsea Worley, director of the East Mountain Companion Animal project. Heard about the crash and helped rescue 32 of the 55 chihuahuas. Some were in bad condition before the crash.

“Cases of neglect, the super long nails, them having eye infections or dehydration,n which was huge…all of them were underweight,” Worley said.

A rescuer in Albuquerque who is stepping in to help find foster homes for four dogs said some injuries were severe.

“Some of the dogs had limbs hanging,” Lanie Nash, president of Cross My Paws Animal Rescue, told KRQE. “There was blood everywhere, but that could have been from one or two dogs.”

Cross My Paws Animal Rescue, the East Mountain Companion Animal Project, and Santa Rosa Animal Control is looking for help. They noted that the chihuahuas would be up for adoption once ready, and some of the dogs were pregnant.

No one seems to know where Rodelo, the van driver, was heading with the chihuahuas or what he would do with them. He was cited for failing to stay in a traffic lane.

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