With movie craze over, woman helps Dalmatians find homes
May 6, 1997
From Miami Bureau Chief John Zarrella
MIAMI (CNN) -- In the movie, caring for 101 Dalmatians is no big deal. But apparently, many people forgot it was just a movie. Demand for Dalmatian pups jumped dramatically with the release of the Disney film, and now the novelty has worn off and the animals are suffering.
Pati Dane is trying to do something about that. The front yard of her Miami home looks like a scene from the movie "101 Dalmatians" -- spots and wagging tails everywhere. But the scene wouldn't exist, she says, if not for the movie.
"A lot of people see my advertising for Dalmatians available for adoption, but it actually works in reverse," she says. "They're thinking, 'Here's a way out. Lets go dump our Dalmatian.'"
Last year's movie unleashed a huge demand for Dalmatian pups. But now shelters nationwide report their Dalmatian population has increased by 300 percent.
Animal control spokesman John Zobler said they warned people against impulse buying when the movie came out, but adult animals are flooding into shelters.
"I do have to attribute some of that to the movie," he says.
Because they are high-strung dogs that need space to roam, they're hard to place. Many end up paying with their lives -- something Dane tries to prevent.
On any given day at the Dade County Animal Shelter, there may be five or six Dalmatians -- some about to be euthanized. Dane takes the dogs she can.
"There has been such an influx and I see that Pati has been so overwhelmed," says new Dalmatian owner Lynette Spavin, adopting one of Dane's refugees. "I just wanted to try and help her."
Still, for most of the Dalmatians dumped when they ceased being cute little puppies, there are more Cruella De Vils than Pati Danes waiting at the end of the road.
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