Storm strands Chihuahuas

Even the luckiest of dogs aren’t immune to the holiday travel blues.

About a dozen Chihuahuas were booted Tuesday from a transcontinental flight that was supposed to take them from San Francisco’s animal shelter — where the miniature breed’s population has mushroomed in the past year and a half — to New York, where the breed is still in great demand.

Virgin America had volunteered to fly several pursefuls of the large-eyed breed across the country after San Francisco’s animal shelters began begging people to adopt the animals.

Their flight was scheduled for Tuesday, but a blizzard that blanketed the East Coast last weekend and stalled thousands of flights across the country forced the airline to nix the plan — for now.

“We just needed to focus on getting folks home for the holidays,” Virgin America spokeswoman Patricia Condon said.

San Francisco Chihuahuas will still be flown across the country, but not until January, when the holiday travel rush is finished, she said.

The exact number of Chihuahuas that were to be flown Tuesday had yet to be decided before the cancellation, but it was expected to be between six and 15, depending on space, Condon said. But by delaying the departure date until January, the airline can commit to transporting at least 15 dogs, she said.

In San Francisco, shelters have seen Chihuahuas go from a relatively rare breed just two years ago to rivaling pit bulls in their ubiquity, said Deb Campbell, spokeswoman for San Francisco Animal Care and Control.

She said that today, about a third of The City’s shelter dogs are Chihuahuas. The problem may come from the popularization of the breed on reality TV shows and other media, Campbell said.

“Puppy mills started pumping up their breeding to meet demand, but they’ve far exceeded it,” she said.

For some reason, the phenomenon has happened more in California than in other parts of the country. In New York, the breed is still in such high demand that after the news came out that shelter would receive the batch of California Chihuahuas, phones began ringing off the hook, Campbell said.

Some of the Chihuahuas that were supposed to fly to New York are likely to spend the holiday in the shelter, but others may have a merry Christmas after all, she said.

“One of them was adopted today already,” Campbell said.

kworth@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsBlizzardLocalSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Those who stick around San Francisco on long holiday weekends can enjoy a slower pace, uncrowded streets and beloved institutions like cable cars. <ins>(Kevin Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
These empty San Francisco streets: A holiday dream

We’re here because we can be, and because we have nowhere else to be

It’s disheartening to see that Bill Graham Civic’s marquee isn’t announcing upcoming concerts. (Screenshot/Bill Graham Civic Twitter)
A cruise through The City with the ghosts of rides past

I take my time and don’t even mind the occasional traffic jams

A ban on smoking or vaping in multi-unit buildings has drawn opposition from cannabis advocates, who say it would leave users with no legal place to consume a legal substance. (Shutterstock)
Cannabis group slams Yee’s proposed apartment smoking ban as ‘classist’

Legislation would impose fines of $1,000 a day on repeat violators

The most dangerous behaviors by drivers include failing to yield right-of-way at crosswalks, unsafe speeding and failing to stop at red lights or stop signs. <ins>(Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite, which supplies water to San Francisco, is among the concerns of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which is undergoing a change of leadership. <ins>(Courtesy SFPUC)</ins>
Changes in leadership at SFPUC spark concern, hope for future water policy

Will agency’s new commissioner continue to support Big Ag?

Most Read