When I first saw photos of Rosie -– with her needle-nose snout, devastatingly misaligned jaw and teeth, severely bowed legs, and pinky-purple skin with hardly a patch of fur — I figured someone was having fun with Photoshop, morphing a pig and a rat and a dog and some other zany stuff together. It was a startling, even a bit disturbing, but I reasoned that she couldn’t be real.
But as I’d come to find out, Rosie is very real -– a product of backyard breeding and animal hoarding. She may be shocking to look at, but inside she’s a beauty, full of love, intelligence, and an incredible will to live.
Rosie is one of 20 dogs pulled by rescuers from a house in Woodland Hills, Calif., last week. She is the worst of the group, which is saying something, because two other rescued Chihuahuas -– some form of sibling or half-sibling to Rosie — have no front legs at all.
Dogster caught up with the woman who found the dogs and instigated the rescue, as well as Rosie’s new “mom.” We bring you their exclusive story.
Hey, Want a Cute Little Dog or Two — or 20?
Kate Hannah (name changed at her request) was walking her dogs around her neighborhood when she saw a sign reading “Chihuahuas for Free.”
She came back to tell the residents — a woman in her 60s and her thirtysomething daughter — why that was a bad idea. She explained to them about dogfighters who pounce on free or cheap dogs to use as bait dogs, and how dangerous it can be for animals to go to unscreened new homes and owners.
The women told her they had a menagerie of 20 or so tiny pooches they were trying to get rid of. They said the woman’s grandmother started breeding them a few years back, and they “sort of kept things going” when she died a couple of years ago. They said it was more that they let it get out of control, since none of the dogs were spayed or neutered because they couldn’t afford it. So things happened, sometimes on purpose, sometimes by accident -– sometimes probably between canine brother and sister, father and daughter or granddaughter, mother and son; you name it.
The hoarders told Hannah that local authorities were pushing them to leave the house before they were forced out through foreclosure. In desperation, they’d found homes for more than 20 dogs the previous week. They were delighted to report that one man had taken a whole litter of young pups — but Hannah felt sick when she thought about their possible fate.
Hannah has been involved in rescue for years, and realized she had to get every dog out of there. She asked to see the dogs, and the women brought them out to the front yard one by one.