Dozens of chihuahuas found after van crashes into semi

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SANTA ROSA, N.M. — You never know what you’ll see at the scene of a crash, especially involving a semi – but who would expect to find dozens of chihuahuas?

Earlier this week, that happened in Santa Rosa. Police said a van crossed the center line and crashed head-on with a semi going the opposite direction. According to police, the van’s driver and passenger were taken to the hospital and ultimately surrendered all the dogs to the state.

While not all of the dogs survived the crash, more than a dozen metro-area rescues and shelters stepped up when they got the call.

“Come here sweet girl,” said Lani Nash, the president and executive director of Cross my Paws Animal Rescue, as she coaxed one of the four chihuahuas she took in after the crash out of a cage. “She’s super sweet, she definitely got an injured leg.”

Three of Nash’s fosters are pregnant, and one already had three puppies. The other two are due any day now. With a pregnant chihuahua in her arms, Nash explained she has seen a lot in her rescue career – but nothing like this.

“I just went,” Nash said. “Wow, holy cow, I was told 65 chihuahuas were found, 10 of them didn’t make it and I was just like, wow. I was dumbfounded.”

Most of those dogs were brought back to Albuquerque, thanks to the East Mountains Companion Animal Project.

“We prioritized pregnant mothers and babies first just because we didn’t know how many we would be able to fit in our vehicles,” said Chelsea Worley, director of operations.

Once she got back, she started going through her contacts to get some help from other local rescue groups and volunteer foster parents. But the next day – another call came in.

“They found more dogs, newborn babies and other dogs and we are fortunate they are still alive cause they stayed in the vehicle overnight and could have froze to death,” Worley said. “They were probably lodged up there in the dashboard, under seats they were lodged up or hidden.”

Police said not much was left of the van, and some of the dogs were in pretty bad shape too.

“Our vet was nice enough to stay late,” Worley said. “Her and several of the techs stayed and did evaluations, some needed to be hospitalized due to severe dehydration, they did not have good food, I don’t know the last time they ate was – they were really hungry.”

Several chihuahuas had cuts or injuries from the crash, but even more were hurt because of what Worley and Nash described as neglect.

“This one, you can see she has glands that come out of her eyes, that happens when they’re malnourished or dehydrated,” Nash explained. “Look here, she has probably never had her nails trimmed, some of them had nails that were so long they were actually curling down and growing back into their pads.”

All of the dogs are now being cared for, including twelve that are pregnant.

If you’re interested in adopting one of these dogs they will be holding the first of many adoption events on Jan. 15 at Woof Gang Bakery in Albuquerque – once all of the dogs are spayed, neutered and get a clean bill of health from their vets.