A Burbank rescue group and Los Angeles County Animal Control
officials reached an agreement for the group to take custody of 174
Chihuahuas seized from an Acton breeder, but a last-minute protest
from the breeder has postponed a decision on the dogs’ fate.
Animal control officers took the tiny canines from Emma Harter’s
home in November, where they have said the inbred dogs were moving in
ferocious, feral packs. An animal control expert who examined the
dogs in April said most should be destroyed, prompting an effort by
Burbank-based Chihuahua Rescue to save the dogs.
After three more animal behaviorists evaluated the dogs along with
officials from Chihuahua Rescue, shelter officials and Harter agreed
to allow the group to place the dogs in the care of experienced
rescue personnel, Deputy Dist. Atty. Steven Heller said.
But at a hearing in a Lancaster courtroom Thursday, Harter asked
that she not be held liable for the $500,000 it has cost the county
to care for the animals, and declined to sign the agreement, Heller
“It looked like a resolution everybody was comfortable with,” he
said. “Unfortunately, Ms. Harter wanted concessions made in her
criminal case, and that’s just not possible.”
Kimi Peck, founder of Chihuahua Rescue, said she was devastated by
“I’m appalled that the breeder, when given the chance to get the
dogs into a safe, loving situation, decided it was to her advantage
to not release them,” she said. “This is proof her motivation all
along was monetary.”
Because an agreement could not be reached, a judge in the criminal
case against Harter postponed a decision on what to do with the dogs
until Aug. 5. Heller said it is unclear if Harter has any ownership
rights over the dogs, and he is confident the judge will allow
Chihuahua Rescue to place the animals.
After having a judge delay ruling on the dogs’ fate for the second
time, Peck said she is less optimistic that the Chihuahuas will be
released at the next hearing.
“We were optimistic they would do this yesterday, and we were
optimistic he would release the dogs the previous week,” she said.
“I’m a little gun shy at this point.”