Valley Chihuahuas get a second chance at life in Minnesota

The Fresno BeeMay 9, 2014 

More than 40 Chihuahuas facing euthanasia in Fresno will be shipped Sunday to Minnesota, where animal rescue organizers said there is a real need for the breed.

Linda Guthrie of Animal Rescue of Fresno has been scouring local shelters for the diminutive dogs, which are checked for rabies and heartworms and then go through a "very important temperament test."

"We do take dogs with physical deformities if they can pass the other tests," she said. "We had a three-legged Chihuahua get adopted recently."

The latest batch of rescues total 42 and will be driven Sunday morning to San Francisco, where they will be flown to Minnesota and distributed to shelters throughout the state. Guthrie said that most of the dogs will be adopted within a few days.

Another architect of the great Chihuahua migration, Cindy Karsten, has connections in Minnesota that made this shipment possible. "There is a need there," she said. "They want small dogs, and we have them. We aren't displacing any dogs out there -- it really is a win for everyone."

Karsten, who assists with the trips when she isn't working as a resident veterinarian at the University of California at Davis, said that more than 300 dogs have been relocated since the program began in March 2013.

Karsten was able to secure much of the funding for the venture from an $11,700 grant from the ASPCA. That grant money is now gone, and much of the Sunday trip's costs were covered by donations. Compassion Without Borders, an animal rescue organization in Santa Rosa, paid for one of the trips with cash donations made through its website.

Animal Rescue of Fresno and the Animal Compassion Team of California are also seeking donations for their various efforts. In addition to the Chihuahua flights, Guthrie routinely trucks dogs to Oregon and Nevada. She estimates the average cost of testing and transport at $50-$75 per animal.

To help cover the group's costs, a breakfast fundraiser will be held on May 17.

Breakfast fundraiser for Animal Rescue of Fresno

When: 8 a.m.-11 a.m. on Saturday, May 17

Where: 4545 E. Dakota Ave., Fresno

Cost: $10 in advance, $12 at the door

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6015 or at

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