An Arizona shelter is going to be taking the breed labels off of the kennels that adoptable dogs are occupying, waiting for a forever family. This is in response to a study that took place at Arizona State University, which makes the case for these labels actually adding time to the length of stay for adoptable dogs. Basically, putting things like “pit bull mix” and the like as a label on a kennel, makes adoption for that dog less likely.
“Breeds are an aspect of a dog but they don’t make up everything about that dog,” said Michael Morefield with the Arizona Animal Welfare League.
The title of the study is “What’s in a Name? Effect of breed Perceptions and Labeling on Attractiveness, Adoptions and Length of Stay for Pit-Bull-Type Dogs.” It was authored by Lisa Gunter and colleagues, and showed how putting a breed label on a dog had an immediate and direct effect on how long a dog might stay in a shelter, and not find a family.
According to Morefield, “Dogs that were labeled as pit-bulls [for example] were staying at the shelter longer, while the dog that looked just like them was labeled as a border collie or a Saint Bernard was getting adopted in almost one-third the time.”
Hopefully, this will break down some of the barriers that particular dogs have getting rehomed. The Arizona Animal Welfare League is completely removing all of the labels starting immediately. The information will be replaced with more about the nature and personality of the dog. They figure that getting more of that to potential adopters, will close more deals for dogs.
“Their personality, their temperament, the life they have led so far before you meet them in the shelter,” said Morefield. “Those life experiences really make up who that dog is, more than who their parents were five years ago or what their color markings make you think they are as a breed. That’s really what makes up the pet you want to take home.”