Emergency Airlifting of Chihuahuas to East Coast Continues

California is overflowing with Chihuahuas. Thousands of the tiny critters crowd Los Angeles and San Francisco shelters and shelter representatives say the “alarming” problem will soon be out of control if these iconic pups don’t find homes ASAP. Blame Paris Hilton and her little dog, Tinkerbell, too. (Really, the problem is known as “Paris Hilton Syndrome” in some parts). Blame Legally Blond. Maybe even blame Taco Bell. But, whatever you do, don’t worry. Help is on the way.

Over the past few weeks, everyone from Katherine Heigl to Virgin America has stepped in to rescue the abandoned pets. Their mode du liberation? A puppy airlift. That’s right. The airline is footing the bill to fly these tiny pups directly from their shelters to their new East Coast homes. The latest from Virgin America:

“Virgin America is assisting the City of San Francisco Animal Care and Control by flying Chihuahua pups from San Francisco to New York so they can be adopted into loving homes to ring in the New Year. The massive overpopulation of Chihuahuas in California is forcing animal shelters on the West Coast to look to shelters on the East Coast for help – where there is demand for the dogs. The San Francisco Animal Care & Control asked Virgin America to spare a seat during the busy holiday travel season to help fly these needy pups. Several Virgin America teammates have volunteered to escort the pups on the flights to the East Coast – and will track their journey with real-time updates via the airline’s fleetwide WiFi service.”

Yes. The airline sent several dozen dogs across the coast last week. And, apparently, they traveled in style, complete with “red carpet send-off,” miniature treats, and “plenty of doggie toys to play with.” According to New Hampshire animal shelter representative Karen Bill and spcaLA President Madeline Bernstein, these missions have been widely successful. “In New Hampshire, where Chihuahuas are scarce, 100 people were on the waiting list for the rescued dogs. Chico and all the other California canines have been learning to adjust to the snow,” reports Mandalit Del Barco in a recent NPR interview on the subject.

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