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Adopting a shelter dog is a momentous occasion in any person’s life. After putting in the hours executing careful research on the best way to welcome a new furry, four-legged (not to say that all dogs are furry or four-legged) companion into your home, the next step is where it gets tough: who do you adopt? You spend countless hours on the Internet browsing the “up for adoption” section of your local animal shelter or pet finder — even if you just love dogs, you’ve probably done this — in search of your new buddy. You’ve also probably noticed that breed is almost always mentioned: Labrador mixes, Cattle Dog mixes, and all varieties of the American Staffordshire Terrier and Pit Bull mixes. However, breed labeling by shelters, where most dogs aren’t genetically tested, has been proven to be inaccurate and out of the six to eight million cats and dogs brought into shelters, one in four of those animals are labeled Pit Bulls. To break it down even further, nearly half of all shelter animals are euthanized. Thankfully, more shelters have been moving away from breed labels. But one shelter took things a step further.
When you walk into the Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center in Virginia, you won’t see any breed labels. Instead, each and every adoptable pup is an “All American Dog.”
This is a victory, especially for Pit Bulls, who are less likely to be adopted. In fact, a study by Arizona State University showed that dogs labeled “Pit Bull” in shelters wait three times longer to get adopted than dogs who look the same, but are labeled under a different breed.
At first, the shelter only avoided mentioning breed on their Facebook posts for adoptable dogs. But Lindsey Huffman, the shelter director, wanted to take it a step further. She wanted to avoid having potential forever families believe that any dog is a good or bad match for their family based on breed. Instead, they want the dogs’ personalities to do the talking.
“If nothing else I think visitors will walk out of the shelter looking at each of them differently, which is the direction I was going with this,” said Huffman.
According to Huffman, several dogs with the “All American Shelter Dog” label went home with new families during the first weekend. We hope that other shelters consider taking on the label because, after all, breed labels can be notoriously inaccurate, especially for Pit Bulls. If you’ve been considering welcoming a dog into your home, please adopt from a shelter — you’ll save a life.
All image source: Shenandoah Valley Animal Services Center/ShelterMe