26 Chihuahuas road tripping to new homes in Pennsylvania

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- While there is no shortage of Chihuahuas here in the Valley, that's apparently not the case in Pennsylvania.

Twenty-six of the 100 or so Chihuahuas that called the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control's West Valley Shelter home embarked on a serious road trip Friday morning. The 26 pups were loaded into a rented SUV that will carry them almost all the way across the country -- more than 2,300 miles -- to Exton, Penn.

Paws to Heart Rescue in Pennsylvania reached out to Arizona Chihuahua Rescue to put the great Chihuahua cross-country road trip of 2014 into motion.

"We worked out a plan for transporting a bunch of our shelter dogs over to Pennsylvania, so they can get a second chance," Helen Brillakis of Arizona Chihuahua rescue explained. "They have commitments on a bunch of dogs already. So, they're taking what they have commitments for and few extras."

According to MCACC spokeswoman Melissa Gable, Chihuahuas and pit bulls are the most common dogs to cross through doors of Maricopa County's animal shelters.

MCACC has about 300 dogs right now. Gable says about 30 percent of them are Chihuahuas or Chihuahua mixes.

"We certainly have enough that we can spare, and we're very grateful to Arizona Chihuahua Rescue and Paws to Heart for being willing to do this," she said. "It's amazing that they're willing to put this effort together because it was a lot of work."

Arizona Chihuahua Rescue and Paws to Heart raised the money needed to put the road trip together.

Volunteers from Paws to Heart are doing the driving.

"It's going to be a rough go for them," Brillakis said, explaining that the trip is about 34 hours. "They've done some transports before. I don't know that they've come this far before, but they're going to work it and I think they'll be OK. … It's probably going to be a little loud."

They'll stop as they need to along the way to gives the dogs -- and the drivers -- a break.

"Once they get to the other end, it'll all be worth it," Brillakis said.

While transports like this happen, they're not frequent.

Brillakis said Arizona Chihuahua Rescue seized the opportunity to get dogs into loving homes. She said recent news stories about the abundance of Chihuahuas in Arizona triggered a flurry of emails.

"We're hoping that maybe this can become a more regular event so we can get these dogs chances somewhere else where they're not going to be so common and can potentially can get noticed," she said.

Chihuahuas are great companion animals, Brillakis said.

"They're great little bed-warmers," she said. "They travel well normally. … They're just fun little dog to have around. You can have them in smaller settings. … They're not dogs that need tons and tons of acreage.

"Once you have one, you'll never be without one," she continued with a laugh.

Paws to Heart plans to introduce the Chihuahua to their new families Sunday.

Exton, where the dogs are headed, is about 45 minutes from Philadelphia.