May 20, 2019

Mischief No More: Hyper Chihuahuas Get a Healthy Dose of Calm

One spring day, the ASPCA’s Los Angeles Community Engagement (CE) team was conducting outreach in El Monte, California, to promote a new ASPCA Spay/Neuter Mobile Clinic. The mobile clinic was dispatched to El Monte on a short-term basis as the team worked to assess the needs of the community’s pets as part of exploratory community work in Los Angeles.

As they walked around the neighborhood, the team noticed two Chihuahua-mixes running around, barking at passersby. The pair were Boo and Coco, mischievous boys who were very excited to be out patrolling their property while their owner, Ana R., was unloading groceries from her vehicle. 

The CE team approached Ana and asked about her pups. "They are indoor dogs,” she explained, “but they ran out," while she was bringing things in. "Son bien traviesos" (they are very mischievous), she said, "especially that one," pointing at one-year-old Coco.

Ana shared that Coco was actually Boo's offspring, and she never thought he would be so hyper. The CE team was ready to help, and took a moment to discuss the benefits of spay/neuter for pets, as well as the ASPCA Mobile Spay/Neuter services that were then being offered to pets of El Monte residents.

There are many benefits to spaying or neutering pets. Neutering male dogs can help prevent medical issues such as testicular cancer and some prostate problems. The procedure can also help address behavior issues, which was certainly a concern in the case of Coco and Boo, as neutered male dogs are less likely to roam away from home. An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate, including finding creative ways escape from the house. Once free to roam, they risk injury in traffic and fights with other male animals. Some aggression problems may also be minimized by early neutering.

After learning of the chance to help her dogs, Ana immediately scheduled Boo and Coco for neuter appointments at the mobile clinic. "I hope that will calm them down," she said.

As the CE team went on their way distributing flyers, they could see Ana from afar, chasing Boo and Coco across the street, trying to get them to return home. It was clear this doting pet parent had her hands full.

Sometimes when CE staff schedule spay/neuter appointments, we don't see owners and their pets again. They go straight to the clinic the day of their appointment to be seen by ASPCA Community Medicine staff. However, one Friday, we received a picture message from a manager at the mobile clinic. The picture was of none other than Coco and Boo. Ana was holding their intake clipboards, waiting to board her confused-looking pups.

Today, it seems Coco and Boo are no longer the mouthy pups barking at everyone walking by their home, which is a relief to Ana who has since sent more photos of the tiny doggy-duo living happy, healthy, calmer lives at home.

Positive outcomes for pets and their families are something we work hard to achieve—and something we all celebrate at the ASPCA. Since our work in the Los Angeles area began five years ago, our teams there have achieved milestones that have contributed to our goal of improving animal welfare and increasing access to basic veterinary care—including 60,000 spay/neuter surgeries for pets in need. Through spay/neuter, community services, fostering programs, and animal relocation, our Los Angeles team saves lives, combats animal homelessness, and provides critical services and supplies to people and pets in need.

To see how our Community Engagement and Community Medicine programs are working in Los Angeles, read more about our Los Angeles Initiative. If you’d like to find out all the reasons to consider spay/neuter for your pets, read the myths and facts about this procedure that can help your pet live a longer, healthier life.