Above) These three chihuahuas (above) were among seventeen that ended up at a Abilene's Rescue the Animals shelter after a drug-bust in Cisco, Texas, in January of 2010.
Lyndon and Shelly Morgan were arrested for possession of 20 pounds of marijuana. With their seventeen chihuahuas there were three more dogs, pit bulls kept specifically to guard the dope. The behavior of the pitbulls posed such clear danger that one had already killed one of the others. The remaining two had to be destroyed.
Conditions were filthy and deplorable, though by comparison to the pits that had been encouraged to be mean, the chihuahuas were friendly and showed no signs of malnutrition.
All the dogs lived in a separate house next door to where the dope dealers lived. They were not a puppymill; these really were the druggies' pets and they knew them all by name and had even crate-trained some of them.
But the legal maximum for dogs in Cisco was four. And the owners all too obviously had too many to manage properly, since the filth was terrible. Since the dealers' drug of choice was pot, chances are they were themselves too stoned to keep up with their animals' needs.
An additional 47 chihuahuas came from a second rescue mission that same month. Neighbors reported odor and persistent barking from an abandoned home in Merkel, Texas.
The owners of the property dropped by at long intervals to put out food and water, but this was not nearly enough.
They were filthy, malnourished, and very frightened. The other chihuahuas from the drug bust had by comparison been given almost decent care and were in good health, but the larger horde needed a good deal of medical attention before they were adoptable.
They were at first exceedingly leery of being handled, but after a few hours of attentive care they all began to come out of their shells and show that they were willing to be perfect pets if someone would give them a chance.
As a result of these two cases, the shelter had a grand total of sixty-four chihuahuas. Paul Washburn, president of Rescue the Animals, said, "There is no better place on earth to adopt a Chihuahua. We have a tremendous selection."
Shown at right is another chihuahua from the drug-bust house. Her name is Cassie and she's less than two years old. She one of the first to find an eager family to adopt her. She was very shy and would hide behind her protector's legs, understandable given her experiences; and though she got along with other dogs, having lived with so many, she was even so disinclined to play with them, always seeking her own space, which must've been difficult to find in the crowded drug dealers' house.
Yet she was crate-trained, not a yapper (due to her preference for hiding from surprises), and very affectionate with whoever was nice to her. She proved an ideal pet for a quieter household.
Photos are by Nellie Doneva
a recipient of several awards from the
National Press Photographers Association