HSGN executive director Karen Bill and Kinder Rescue director Laurel Kinder had been trying for about three months to move a surplus of Chihuahuas from Hollywood to the northeast. Faced with an unbearably long drive and an expensive flight, solutions were scarce. But after contacting the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation — founded in honor of the Grey's Anatomy star's late brother and run by her and her mother — the problem was solved: The organization, which supports animal rescue efforts, offered $25,000 to fly the pups from the West Coast. "It was amazing," Bill tells PEOPLEPets.com. "The ideal situation come true."
Wednesday night, the 25 Chihuahuas were greeted at Boston's Logan International Airport by volunteers from HSGN. Five of the animals went to the Salem Animal Rescue League of N.H., and the rest were happily situated in Nashua by 6 p.m.
Though staffers at HSGN haven't spoken to Heigl directly, they plan to thank her heartily for her donation. "We're putting together a photo CD of all the dogs, from the time we met them at the airport to the moment they go home with their new families," says Bill. "We want her to know how grateful we are."
The pooches — who range in age from about 1 to 4 years old — are currently undergoing medical evaluations and all have veterinary appointments Friday, and will be available for adoption on Saturday at 10 a.m. "The response has been phenomenal," Bill says. "We had more than 40 voicemails Thursday morning from families inquiring about these dogs. I can guarantee we'll have a line out the door starting at 9:30." Soon all of the dogs will have Hollywood-themed names, too, to tie them to their L.A. roots. "We already have a Stallone, because he's a little tough guy," Bill laughs. "I think we'll end up with a J. Lo, a Latoya, and more."
While Chihuahuas are seemingly everywhere in Los Angeles, they're somewhat more scarce in the northeast. "It's a Hollywood-made crisis," Bill says. "From Beverly Hills Chihuahua to Paris Hilton, people see these dogs and think they're cute accessories, but they're not. They're living beings that need attention."
Bill maintains they make great housepets because they're relatively easy to take care of, can thrive in colder climates and are extremely loyal. "All 25 would have been euthanized if we didn't take them," she says. "We're just so happy to be saving their lives."
Read more about Heigl's work with animals on PEOPLEPets.com:
Katherine Heigl Lends Furry Friends a Hand
Katherine Heigl’s Dog Romeo Inspires... Pajamas?