The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported that 36 Chihuahuas were seized from two homes in Watsonville, California by the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter on March 4 and 5 respectively. The dogs were taken during an execution of a search warrant on both residences. Puppies as young as two weeks old were removed during the seizure and reports indicate that all three dozen Chihuahuas are now in foster care.
"It's a hoarding case first because not only were animals being hoarded, but also objects and possessions," making it difficult for officials to move through the residences, he said. But they're both breeding situations as well, "because the dogs were indiscriminately breeding in the house, " said Todd Stosuy, the shelter's field services manager. Stosuy also said, "looks like there were three separate litters."
A call from the landlord at one of the apartment properties on East Beach Street prompted authorities to investigate and obtain search warrants. The landlord was concerned that the dogs were not being cared for. Officials are still investigating whether the hoarders will be charged with animal neglect. If so, penalties could include a one year incarceration in county jail and/or a maximum fine of $20,000 should the hoarders receive a misdemeanor charge. A felony conviction could result in up to a year in a state prison. Additional penalties if convicted would be a ban of up to five or 10 years from pet ownership in California.
Anyone interested in adopting the rescued Chihuahuas can visit the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter locations in Live Oak and Watsonville. However, the dogs may have already entered into foster homes but adoption inquiries can be made at the shelter.
"We need people who are interested in having a new, loving family friend to adopt some of these guys," Stosuy said.