The Coast News Group
Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego County volunteer Lucy Roebuck displays her rolling cases of leashes, collars and harnesses that she keeps in the trunk of her car. She spends her own money on all of the cutest options for the dogs that are eventually adopted. Photo by Stephanie Stang

Group rescues Chihuahuas in high fashion

ESCONDIDO — There’s an old saying that “clothes make the man,” but what about the clothes women make for small dogs to save them?

Two volunteers from Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego County have been buying or making clothes for the small dogs for years to keep their furry bodies fashionable, warm and attract the attention of future owners.

“It’s kind of like marketing a little bit,” said Roebuck. “Sometimes when we are in a shopping center, like Home Depot (for an event), and people will see all of these dogs with cute outfits and they will come over to take a look at them. They may not be there for the event but they will stop over and sometimes they will find their new best friend. Everything helps when trying to find new homes for these dogs.”

After a career in interior and fashion design, Roebuck wanted to find a way to contribute to an organization during her retirement years. Luckily, she found Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego County.

Chihuahua rescue President Amy Hultengren said the group rescues about 300 dogs a year. The organization rescues other small dogs besides Chihuahuas; however, their mission is to “raise awareness about the breed’s over-representation in shelters” and the need to reduce this statistic with a spay-neuter program.

Hultengren said most of the dogs rescued by the Escondido-based shelter are “bare, with used or tattered collars.”

Roebuck ensures that every dog adopted goes home with a color-coordinated outfit.  “All the essentials,” she said. “They have a collar, an ID with Chihuahua rescue on it, and a well-fitting harness, and a matching leash. In the wintertime, they will have a matching sweater and coat.  All of that goes to the foster, until they get adopted, and then when they get adopted, all of that goes to the adopter.”

Roebuck estimated she spends $4,000 a year on outfits for the dogs but sees it as a donation to the rescue. “This is what I can do,” she said. “I can’t foster, so this is what I do. I love dressing them.”

Although Roebuck said she enjoys bargain shopping for the cutest outfits for the dogs, some of the outfits she purchases come from the rescue’s seamstress, Case.

Case originally started volunteering with the organization as a foster volunteer. “When I was a fostering, I was mostly getting the really tiny dogs,” she said. “The rescue had these slings (dog purses) and it came to the point where the dog couldn’t lay down. I started ripping them apart and putting in these long square bottoms so the dogs can lay down.”

At first, she didn’t know how to sew but found a pattern online. Now, she says every closet in her home in Escondido, except her husband’s, is full of dog clothes. “I think if anyone that really sewed saw my stuff they would really cringe,” she said. “If I make a mistake, I throw a flower on it.”

Last Halloween, she made 100 small dog outfits. The proceeds from the clothing she sells at events are donated to the rescue. The next big event for Case to showcase some new pet fashions will be Taco Fest, where Chihuahua races are held attendees are able to adopt dogs from the organization. Last year dogs from the Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego County were featured.

“It’s just been fun for me,” Case said. “I’m retired. I don’t know what else I would do if I didn’t have the dogs and my stuff.”

“I see how cute the dogs look and I love that,” Roebuck said. “When people say, ‘I love that little outfit on the dog,’ it just makes me feel good. The better they look and the more comfortable they are, I love it. It’s like I have live Barbie dolls.”

For more information about volunteering or donating to Chihuahua Rescue of San Diego County, go to

1 comment

Ward Case January 20, 2020 at 11:58 am

Good story about two great volunteers!

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