Small Dogs Need Homes, Too, Says Tyrine Hawthorne

Hawthorne is the president of Small Breed Rescue of East Tennessee

Do a lot of little purebreds need rescuing?

Definitely more often than you would think. We get calls every single day wanting us to take in dogs—purebreds, mixes. You'd be surprised how many small dogs become homeless.

Why does it happen?

Older owners pass away, people are losing their homes, a lot of people don't realize what work goes into a small dog. They think they can stick it into their purse and it can be an accessory. The reality is, they are still dogs. They need time and attention; they need to be house-trained, exercised, and socialized.

But there are still advantages to owning a smaller dog?

Definitely. Small dogs are very portable, and a lot of apartments only allow pets up to a certain weight limit. Older owners don't have to worry about struggling with the leashes or the dog knocking them down. They're less expensive to feed, and they tend to live longer.

Does any breed in particular end up with your group?

We have a lot of chihuahuas and chihuahua mixes, maybe due to the breed's popularity with celebs and in movies. Lots of them are kind of testy, because they haven't been socialized. We get them out meeting new people. A dachshund-chihuahua mix, Rocky, one of my fosters of almost two years, I think that's our longest, he just got adopted. So yay.

How many dogs are you dealing with?

This past year we placed over 100, and right now have about 20 in foster care, where we test their temperaments and do our best to send them back out house-trained. Sadly, we have to turn down dogs every single day, from shelters and owners. Transport and fostering are our biggest needs.