Dog shelter to remove breed tags on adoptable animals

Don’t judge a dog by the color of its fur. A valley shelter is removing breed tags from adoptable dogs, following a study at Arizona State University.

“Breeds are one aspect of a dog, but they’re not everything about that dog,” said Michael Morefield of the Arizona Animal Welfare League.

The study, “What’s in a Name? Effect of Breed Perceptions and Labeling on Attractiveness, Adoptions and Length of Stay for Pit-Bull-Type Dogs,” by Lisa Gunter and her colleagues, showed that breed labels lead to premature judgments by potential shelter dog adopters.

Morefield said the research focused on how animals are tagged and how long they stay in shelters.

To determine how breed labels influenced adopters, researchers compared dogs that looked identical and labeled them differently.

“Dogs that have been labeled as pit bulls [for example] stayed at the shelter longer,” Morefield said, “while the dog that looked like them was tagged as a Border Collie or St. Bernard was adopted almost a third of the time.

Now the Arizona Animal Welfare League is removing breed tags as part of a pilot program in hopes it will help some dogs get adopted faster.

The No-Kill Shelter replaces breed names with more personalized information, such as “their personality, their temperament, the life they’ve had so far before meeting them at the shelter,” said Morefield. “These life experiences really define who this 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 animal you want to bring home.”

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