Good Shepherd transports 24 chihuahuas out of state

Thursday, June 4, 2020
Cole Wakefield, director of animal operations at Good Shepherd Humane Society, comforts two of 24 chihuahuas that were recently dropped off at the shelter.
Photo by Samantha Jones

By Samantha Jones

When 24 chihuahuas were dropped at Good Shepherd Humane Society two weeks ago, animal operations manager Cole Wakefield was frustrated. Fortunately, Wakefield knows the power of networking.

Wakefield said he immediately began contacting animal welfare organizations in Northwest Arkansas, saying it wasn’t long before he found a foster-based shelter in Chicago, Ill., that specializes in small dogs. Wakefield said the group met Good Shepherd employees in St. Louis, Mo., agreeing to cover part of the transport cost.

“This turnover is exceptionally quick. To get 24 animals in and turn them around in three days … that is much faster than what I was expecting,” Wakefield said.

Normally, Wakefield said, he’d call a bunch of animal welfare organizations and find homes for the animals over time.

“We could’ve split them up and eventually they would’ve made their way into homes through various routes we use,” Wakefield said, “but to be able to use a rescue that focuses on tiny breeds to take them all on that quickly has definitely been exceptional. Normally, it can take weeks of talking this out.”

He continued, “This all sort of fell into place, which I think shows the strength of the network we’ve built with animal welfare organizations. It’s working out well for everybody. It’s a good, happy ending to what is a frustrating and sad problem.”

Wakefield said the dogs were likely part of a puppy mill that either closed down or couldn’t feed them anymore. Because they are in relatively good condition, Wakefield said, he’s sure they didn’t come from a hoarding situation.

“The puppy mill just didn’t want to feed them anymore, so they sold a bunch,” Wakefield said, “or the puppy mill suddenly went out of business and they had a stock of dogs to get rid of.”

Wakefield said he’s thankful it worked out the way it did. Puppy mills sometimes euthanize large groups of animals, Wakefield said, or dump them in the middle of nowhere.

“We took them in because even though we weren’t given all the information that is usually needed … a man driving around with 24 chihuahuas in his truck needs assistance for those animals,” Wakefield said.

Wakefield said the dogs are all under-socialized and some have skin or eye problems.

“They will need extra love and kindness, which is why we’re so excited to find an organization that specializes in small dogs,” Wakefield said. “We’re very fortunate that we were able to find a good place for them and just be a quick rest stop on their journey to something much better.”

Wakefield reminded the community that it is kitten season and urged locals not to bother healthy animals that are running around the neighborhood. Wakefield said that’s probably somebody’s pet or kittens in close proximity to their mother.

“The moment an animal enters the shelter system, its chances of being reunited with its family are reduced significantly,” Wakefield said. “That’s just a cold hard fact, and separating kittens from their mother can actually be very detrimental to their health.”

Overall, Wakefield said, he’s feeling good about Good Shepherd these days. Finding homes for the chihuahuas is just the latest example of success at the shelter, Wakefield said.

“There’s support out there. There’s networks out there to help,” Wakefield said. “To go from that initial frustration to problem solved so quickly makes you feel good.”

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