Over eighty chihuahuas have been discovered by the police after they investigated an elderly woman's home. She had recently passed away, and the officers had visited her house to complete their report and were surprised to find the terrified dogs covered in fleas and burns and scrabbling around on every inch of the floor space in the house. The owner lived there with her husband, who has been identified only by the name 'Stephen' and the situation had escalated over the course of four years. The pair had apparently bought two pet chihuahua called Blue and Tinkerbell, but chose not to have them spayed and soon the pair had a litter. Again, the couple didn't spay or neuter these dogs either and eventually there were so many pairs of dogs getting pregnant and having puppies that they ended up with 82 fluffy little pups running around the house.
The dogs had apparently never been outside, and there's no suggestion that the wider family knew about what was going on inside the house. RSPCA Inspector Herchy Boal described arriving at the house, saying the dogs "literally started appearing from everywhere. We would move the washing machine and suddenly there’d be six faces looking at you. It was incredible where they were able to hide. The house looked like an earthquake had hit it, everything was higgledy piggledy, it was really chaotic and dirty. We called out a vet who said the house was too hazardous and the dogs couldn’t stay there, it was filthy and cramped. They were all hiding; barking and snapping at us." Staff worked through the night checking over all of the dogs and making sure that they were all healthy, and all but four have been moved out of the premises and rehomed.
Upon arrival, all 82 dogs were initially removed and taken to the vet for treatment on their matted coats, fleas and burns. There's no suggestion that the animals were mistreated by the couple but they found it impossible to care properly for such a large group which meant that some minor health issues arose. Inspector Boal added: "We worked with Stephen to renovate and clean the home while we cared for the dogs. We returned four of the dogs to him and rehomed the rest. This was a really sad case but it was also a really memorable one for me due to the sheer number of dogs involved. I really hope we can use this story to make it clear why it’s so important to neuter your pets not only to avoid unwanted litters but also to avoid inbreeding which can result in serious health and behaviour problems in puppies."
The animals were found in April 2017, but the case is due to feature on Wednesday’s episode of The Dog Rescuers on Channel 5.