NEW MEXICO (KRQE) –  Over 50 chihuahuas are now at rescues around New Mexico after being rescued from a dangerous situation. 

State police say a crash happened early Tuesday morning when a van driven by 40-year-old Missael Rodelo from El Paso veered into oncoming traffic, hitting a tractor-trailer head-on on Highway 54 near Vaughn. Police say inside that van were 65 chihuahuas.

“[The police] said…so far, we’ve pulled out 35 dogs and there are still a bunch of them in there and some of them were killed during the accident,” said Santa Rosa Mayor Nelson Kotiar.

The surviving 55 dogs were taken to animal control in Santa Rosa. “I believe there were nine dead inside the van. One of the dogs, we had to put him to sleep because he had a broken back, he was suffering really bad,” added Kotiar.

After hearing about the crash, Chelsea Worley, director of the East Mountain Companion Animal project says she helped rescue 32 of the 55 chihuahuas, saying some of them were in bad condition. “Cases of neglect, the super long nails, them having eye infections or them having dehydration which was huge…all of them were underweight,” said Worley.

About a dozen of the chihuahuas were pregnant. A rescuer in Albuquerque, who is stepping in to help find fosters for four of the dogs, describes just some of the injuries. “Some of the dogs had limbs hanging; there was pretty much blood everywhere, but that could have been from one or two dogs,” said Cross My Paws Animal Rescue President Lanie Nash.

On Wednesday, one of those chihuahuas rescued was taken to a local vet. “He does have a little laceration on one of his back legs so has been on an antibiotic for a couple of weeks,” added Nash.

Both Cross My Paws Animal Rescue and the East Mountain Companion Animal Project, along with Santa Rosa Animal Control, are looking for help saying once ready, the chihuahuas will be up for adoption.

No one seems to know where Rodelo, the driver of the van, was heading with all of those chihuahuas, or what he was going to do with them. Rodelo was cited for failing to stay in a traffic lane. News 13 asked police if he’s also looking at animal neglect or cruelty charges, but did not get an answer.