It was found after this accident, Chico’s the name he got, but Lucky would have been an equally good fit for the tan-colored Chihuahua with an underbite and what appears to be one blind eye.

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This Chihuahua, named Chico by the groomer who cared for it, is a survivor of a head-on crash near Vaughn on Jan. 3. (Courtesy of Susan Marquez)

The little dog is a survivor of a head-on crash between a van and a tractor-trailer rig near Vaughn on Jan. 3. As many as 110 Chihuahuas may have been in the truck, and more than 25 of them have been missing.

Santa Rosa Mayor Nelson Harrison Kotiar said a motorist from Illinois was driving north on U.S. 54 mid-afternoon Saturday when she saw Chico along the highway north of Vaughn and south of Pastura. Kotar said the woman brought the dog – a male aged 2 to 3 – to the Santa Rosa Police Department. A forever home with residents has been found for him.

The mayor said he also received word Monday that ranchers in the Vaughn area had found and recovered two more Chihuahuas.

“We are telling people if you see any dogs, let us know, bring them to our town,” Kotiar said.

On Saturday, a Santa Rosa firefighter took Chico to Susan Marquez. Who operates Sue’s Doggie Doos, a Santa Rosa grooming business.

“It was fragile and had cactus quills,” she said. “The fireman said he thought it may have had dried blood on it, but I could not find any injuries. I bathed him and took the quills out. He had very long toenails, and I clipped them. He was very thirsty but in pretty good shape. And he’s an adorable dog.”

What did he call the dog?

Marquez named the dog Chico and gave it to residents of an RV park she manages. She said they wanted to keep him. “They say he is very clingy, very attached.”

According to New Mexico State Police, officers were notified at 12:45 a.m. Jan. 3 of a collision on U.S. 54, about two miles north of U.S. 60. An investigation showed that a 2000 Chevrolet Astro Van, driven by Missael Rodelo, 40, of El Paso, was traveling south on U.S. 54 when it crossed into oncoming traffic and crashed into a 2022 Freightliner tractor-trailer rig driven by a 41-year-old man.

Rodelo and four passengers in the van, the tractor-trailer driver and a passenger in the rig, were taken to a hospital with injuries not believed to be life-threatening.

The van was towed to Santa Rosa, where it was discovered that it contained 82 Chihuahuas, 64 living and 18 dead. The city contacted area shelters and animal rescue operations for help. And the East Mountain Companion Animal Project took 48 dogs and placed them in foster homes.

But Kotiar said information obtained at the accident site indicated that 108 to 110 dogs had been in the van when the accident occurred. It was believed that the missing Chihuahuas got out through a side of the truck that had been ripped open.

Keenan Foster, a director with East Mountain Companion Animal Project, said project volunteers had driven to the accident on Saturday but had not seen any Chihuahuas nor found any remains of the dogs.

“We have emailed people in the area to be on the lookout, and some of our volunteers have posted items asking the same thing,” Foster said.

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