State police say a crash happened early Tuesday morning when a van driven by 40-year-old Missael Rodelo from El Paso veered into oncoming traffic. Hitting a tractor-trailer head-on on Highway 54 near Vaughn. Police say inside that van was 65 chihuahuas.

Over 50 chihuahuas are now at rescues around New Mexico after being rescued from a dangerous situation. 

“[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,” said Santa Rosa Mayor Nelson Kotar.

The surviving 55 dogs were taken to animal control in Santa Rosa. “I believe there were nine dead inside the van. We had to put one of the dogs to sleep because he had a broken back, and he was suffering bad,” added Kotar.

After hearing about the crash, Chelsea Worley, director of the East Mountain Companion Animal project. She says she helped rescue 32 of the 55 chihuahuas, saying some were in bad condition. “Cases of neglect, the super long nails, them having eye infections or dehydration. Which was huge…all of them were underweight,” said Worley.

What did the president of Animals Cross My Paws say?

About a dozen of the chihuahuas were pregnant. A rescuer in Albuquerque, who is stepping in to help find fosters for four dogs, describes just some of the injuries. “Some dogs had limbs hanging, and there was blood everywhere, but that could have been from one or two dogs.” Said Cross My Paws Animal Rescue President Lanie Nash.

One of those chihuahuas rescued on Wednesday was taken to a local vet. “Nash has a little laceration on one of his back legs, so he has been on an antibiotic for a couple of weeks,” added Nash.

Cross My Paws Animal Rescue, the East Mountain Companion Animal Project, and Santa Rosa Animal Control is looking for help. Once ready, the chihuahuas will be up for adoption.

No one seemed to know where Rodelo, the van driver, was heading with all those chihuahuas or what he would do with them. Rodelo was cited for failing to stay in a traffic lane. News 13 asked police if he was also looking at animal neglect or cruelty charges but did not get an answer.

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