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Humane Society rescues beleaguered Chihuahuas

"Smiley's a real trooper. After all the neglect Kitsap Humane Society officials say the 10-month-old miniature Chihuahua and 37 of his kith and kin have been through, he's still so happy when people visit that he wags his whole body, along with his tail.Not so for the others, noted the Humane Society's kennel manager, Ron Burrows.It took a while for these to come up to us. They just never had any human contact, Burrows said of Smiley's downstairs neighbor in the block of 12 kennels.That included the young, fawn-colored male who watched with silent caution as Burrows brought visitors to see the dogs. Others, long-haired and smooth, males and females, miniatures and one sheltie-Chihuahua mix, huddled in back corners of their cube-like kennels and peered out.The Chihuahuas were among 46 dogs and cats seized by humane society workers and Sheriffs' deputies Dec. 28 from an alleged illegal breeding operation in Gorst, according to a report in Kitsap County District Court.Sandra Bagley, 38, of Feigley Road, former owner of the animals, pleaded innocent to second-degree animal cruelty Jan. 30.Bagley's own daughter was one of those who called authorities about the condition of the animals at her mother's home, according to the report. The daughter called after visiting her mother on Christmas Day, months after the Humane Society gave her guidelines to clean up her act and become a legal breeder.The dogs were found in Bagley's home, an outbuilding, travel trailer and pet carrier outside the house, most filled with urine and feces.KHS spokeswoman Kathy Cocus said the society had received calls previously about conditions at the home, and followed up with a preliminary examination.We go out and try to educate. In most cases we can solve the problems. It's not our principal purpose to go out and seize animals, but to bring the breeders into compliance and get them licensed, Cocus said.But Bagley was cited Dec. 3 for not complying with rules to become a legal breeder, and the dogs were seized after the daughter's call to authorities.Cocus said four of the dogs had to be euthanized for health reasons or agressiveness. Pregnant and injured dogs were given special care, and others received much-needed veterinary and nutritional care.Two pregnant dogs were placed in foster homes, and one recently had four puppies. Four of the dogs had surgery to be spayed or neutered in preparation for adoption.These dogs are fed two times a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, said Burrows.Now the dogs have a chance for a new life, and a good home.But, said Cocus, we're considering them special needs adoptions. People need to go into it knowing they're not completely house-broken. They need to get more socialization.They're going to need a very quiet environment to start. They need to build trust (in humans) all over again. They'll act timid, and not want to fool with anyone, said Burrows.He said the best thing to do is to let them adjust. Don't force them.It will take a lot of patience. The best thing to do will probably to kennel them, so they'll have their own space, Cocus said.These should go to a home where they'll be the center of attention, she added.One thing potential owners should know also is that Chihuahuas can have a long life expectancy.Generally smaller breeds live longer, Cocus said.I had one that lived 17 years. It depends on environment and food, Burrows said.Said Cocus, For someone who wants a Chihuahua and understands what they're getting into, they're a good dog. "

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