Pet Tales: Happy endings for almost all the California Chihuahuas

A Chihuahua named Lucky lived, for a while, in a cage at a shelter in California, where thousands of little dogs are euthanized every year because the supply of unwanted Chihuahuas far outstrips the number of California residents willing to adopt them.

Living up to his name, Lucky was placed with a temporary foster family, thanks to Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego. After five months he still didn't have a permanent home, so on May 14, Lucky and six others were put into little crates and flown by American Airlines to Pittsburgh, where small dogs are in short supply at shelters and rescue groups.

Lucky, 5, was driven to a new foster home in Butler where he "immediately acted like he owned the place," said Jodi Hilliard. "He was completely bonded to our family in 24 hours." There was no way the family could say good-bye to the big-eyed, big-eared white dog who gets along just fine with the other Hilliard Chihuahuas: Tank, Maggie and Olive.

Lucky had found what rescue workers like to call a "forever home."

Joe-Joe, Dancer, Dunkin and Inka have also been adopted, and Julia's adoption is pending. Only Rosie is still available.

"They just have been very sweet and looking to bond with their foster families and new owners," said Cheryl Haywood, the Evans City veterinarian who operates Myoma Animal Hospital and Critter Care Adoptions, which handled the transfer. She hopes to get another batch of California Chihuahuas in the fall.

Ms. Haywood has been rescuing dogs and cats for 30 years.

"We're careful about where they go, so the process is kind of slow," she said. Critter Care finds homes for about 30 dogs and 15 cats each year.

Diane Kirkland had volunteered to foster one of the California Chihuahuas. She ended up taking three of them to her Saxonburg home, although she already has three small dogs and three cats. Then she and her husband, Rolland, adopted Joe-Joe, 6, Dunkin, 7, and Dancer, a high-energy "pistol and a half who is only a year old" and who never stops moving, dancing and playing.

Some friends and relatives "think I'm totally nuts" to have so many pets, Mrs. Kirkland said. "But I don't smoke and I don't drink and these dogs are such a joy. ... They have a home here."

Go to for further information about adoptable cats and dogs, including Trooper, a Chihuahua from Ohio.

Smiley's Pet Pad Day

You can't beat locally owned independent stores for outstanding customer service, and if we want them to stay in business, we have to shop there.

Pittsburgh Councilman William Peduto sponsored a resolution proclaiming that today is Smiley's Pet Pad Day. The proclamation commends Ginny Smiley for owning and operating the "premium pet supplies store" in Shadyside for 40 years.

The Shadyside Action Coalition has organized a "cash mob" today at the store at 215 S. Highland Ave. They're calling on a large group of people to go to the Pet Pad and spend money there. Ms. Smiley and her four employees will offer a variety of free samples to show their appreciation for loyal customers.

Pitt pet food drive

They call him Officer Riggs at the Oakland campus where he works as an "explosion detection dog" in the University of Pittsburgh Police Department. Now he's appearing on fliers as the honorary co-chair of the second annual Pitt's People for Pets food drive.

Riggs, who joined the force in December 2006, is a black Labrador retriever whose two-legged partner is Officer David Nanz. The dog's partner and co-chair in the food drive is "Roc," the Pitt Panther mascot.

Pet food, cat litter and pet products are being collected through the end of July at 10 sites on the Pitt campus. Donations go to the Animal Friends Chow Wagon program, which distributes pet food and products to food banks. The goal is to help people care for their pets so they won't have to send them to animal shelters.

Last year, Pitt collected more than 4,000 pounds of food and nearly $2,000 in online cash donations.

The drive is supported by the Office of Community Relations, the Athletics and Public Safety departments, University Library System, Office of the Chancellor and Division of Student Affairs. The drive is one of the 225 Acts of Caring, part of the celebration of the 225th anniversary of the founding of the university.

Since 1997, Chow Wagon has given 132,000 pounds of pet food to 22 food pantries and two Meals on Wheels programs in Allegheny, Beaver and Armstrong counties.

Pitt drop-off sites include the ground-floor elevator lobby in the Cathedral of Learning, second-floor mezzanine at the Petersen Events Center, main-floor information desk at the William Pitt Union and the Lytton Avenue entrance of Alumni Hall.

Rabies clinic

Rabies shots and other inoculations for dogs and cats will be offered by the Washington Area Humane Society on July 8, noon to 4 p.m. at the North Strabane Fire Hall, 2550 Washington Road.

Types of inoculations and prices include rabies ($8), canine distemper ($12), bordatella ($10), canine Lyme disease ($17), feline distemper ($12) and feline leukemia ($12). Frontline Plus/Advantage is $15.75. Microchips are $30. For more information, go to or call 724-222-PETS (7387).

Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Linda Wilson Fuoco: or 412-263-3064. Pet Points, the column by veterinarians at the Point Breeze Veterinary Clinic, is taking a summer hiatus.