Haitian Orphans Replace Chihuahuas as Favorite Hollywood Pet

Barely three weeks after the devastating earthquake in Port Au Prince, Haiti, Hollywood celebrities have quietly begun abandoning their chihuahuas and replacing them with Haitian orphans as fast as they become available. The trend, reminiscent of the enthusiasm accompanying last year's "Cash For Clunkers" program, has spread quickly, with orphans arriving on the west coast as soon as they are discovered and normally tricky adoption red tape being navigated easily through the system.

A special temporary terminal at Los Angeles International Airport has been set up to handle the incoming children so as to protect the privacy of the adoptive parents until they're ready to be photographed doing ordinary things. Already, A, B, and even C-list celebrities are keeping the paparazzi busy, showing up around town with new Haitian toddlers in tow.

"We're not worried about papers," said one Academy Award-winning actor who wished to remain anonymous until his story is green-lit for a cable show. "One look told me which one would fit into our household once we got rid of our dog Paco." Even with some celebrities willing to take kids as old as 4 or 4 1/2, choices are limited.

At the same time, animal shelters are straining to handle the influx of the tiny, irascible dog. "We just got rid of most of the [darned] Dalmatians and some of the pit bulls, and now this," said Beverly Hills Animal Control officer Ernie Morrell , straining to be heard over the loud yips of hundreds of chihuahuas. "They're bringing them in by the carload--usually it's the assistant. We're doing the best we can. When are these people gonna pick a pet and stick with it?" No one ventured a guess as to where the orphans might end up once the novelty fades.

Chihuahuas are known for being extremely willful and getting along only with their own breed, which makes it a natural fit for many of their owners. But, admits Parker Lofziger, former assistant to actress Angelina Jolie, the scrappy cuteness of a Chihuahua can't compete with the malleability and desperation of a Haitian orphan. "I think the Haitian orphans are here to stay unless there's a disaster somewhere with more, I don't know, 'unusual' kids. They're cute, they're little, and they get a lot of attention."

Haitian orphans have emerged as "talking point toddlers," allowing show business people to open up more, adding a new dimension to an already saturated parenthood profile.

"We've never seen orphans get scooped up this fast," explained Hollywood Adoptions' Sid Melon. "We can't keep them in stock. " Melon noted that special designer orphan-carriers are being sold exclusively at Fred Segal and American Rag, with $2.00 of the $685.00 selling price going to Haitian relief efforts.

Celebri-spouse Heidi Montag was ecstatic over the arrival of her new child. "We brought little Jean Michel from the airport straight to a Grammy party and he was all anyone could talk about," she said. "Between my new face and body and now him, this has been a remarkable year. I know that between Spencer and Jean Michel and our fans, I'll be sufficiently loved."

"We took Cliquot to chihuahua rescue, which was really sad," said onetime actress Lindsay Lohan. "But then next day Marisol arrived. Cliquot used to fight to get into in the house, but Marisol for some reason loves sleeping in the backyard. It's really cute. You should see her little shoulders shake."

While Haitian officials have been clamping down on the movement of children across borders, arresting ten church members in the midst of a roving orphan yard sale, the limited availability of the Haitian children has made them even more desirable.

Asked about the challenges facing orphans who have been adopted in the midst of colossal tragedy, celebutante Nicole Richie grew uncharacteristically thoughtful. "I don't think it's any different than anything," she said. "Some of my older friends got Nigerian babies back in the day, and we had a Katrina dog. Challenges are just opportunities dressed up as...well, we've got a nanny."


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