Several national news-media outlets are claiming that gangs of stray Chihuahuas are "terrorizing" or "taking over" the West Phoenix neighborhood of Maryvale.
With tales of packs of up to a dozen Chihuahuas attacking children as they walk to school, we decided to check it out firsthand.
After careful observation, our conclusion is that, in fact, Chihuahuas are not running Maryvale.
We spent the better part of an hour this morning driving through several Maryvale neighborhoods, street by street, checking the yards, alleys, and parks for gangs of Chihuahuas terrorizing the residents of Maryvale.
We found dozens and dozens of people outside, and not a single one of them was getting attacked by Chihuahuas, despite what we'd just read on websites such as TIME magazine's.
In fact, here's a tally of what we found during our investigation this morning:
- Pink plastic lawn flamingos: 2
- Stray cats: 1
- Chihuahuas: 1
- Stray Chihuahuas: 0
The only Chihuahua we found had a collar and was in a fenced-in front yard in a neighborhood near 51st Avenue and Thomas Road. Maybe it was protecting the Chihuahua gang clubhouse, but we're guessing not.
Much like most of the "crazy" stories we see about Arizona on national news broadcasts -- most recently, the story of a man's "lifetime ban" from Walmart -- this tale's pretty much complete crap.
The story sprouted from local news reports citing Maricopa County Animal Care and Control officials, who said reports of stray Chihuahuas in Maryvale are quite a bit higher than similar-size areas in other areas around Phoenix. The story told on ABC News' national broadcast included a claim of 15 Chihuahuas attacking kids on the way to school, and the report doesn't mention exactly where that story came from.
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Bottom line: Are there a lot of strays in Maryvale? Probably. But are Chihuahuas "terrorizing" the neighborhood? No.
Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.