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More Than Just a Breed

By Katie Vecchi, Director of Behavior & Placement

If you are interested in adopting a pet, you have probably scrolled through our website to view the adoptable animals at Animal Friends. Visitors and potential adopters can learn more about each animal on their individual profile page. This may include their background, personality, activity level and ideal family. For dogs, there has always been a breed (or multiple breeds) listed as well. This information was added to help adopters search for favored breeds and potentially give more background about the dog.

As with all aspects of the care and adoption of our animal residents, we are always trying to “think outside of the cage” and adhere to shelter best practices. So, we recently made the decision to remove the specific breeds from our residents’ profiles. Now, visitors to our website will see the dogs listed as small, medium or large mixed breeds.

Many of our residents come to Animal Friends with limited background information. This may be because they were found as strays, transferred in from other shelters or rescued by our Humane Investigations team. The breeds that were designated for these dogs were based off of standard physical characteristics seen during their intake exams. But, we often hear from adopters who have completed a DNA test for their new friend that their breed results were different than those we identified at Animal Friends. There is no way for our medical department to be 100 percent certain of the breed of each dog simply based on their physical characteristics. By listing them as mixed breeds, we are not mislabeling any of our adoptable dogs!

More importantly, we know that by giving dogs a breed label, we automatically create assumptions, expectations and biases with potential adopters. We know a dog’s breed may sway their opinion, both positively and negatively, without considering the individual dog. At Animal Friends, we strive to be matchmakers. Meaning we want to ensure each adoption is based on finding the ideal home for each resident, based on what is best for everyone in the family, two- and four-legged alike. We believe removing the breeds from the dogs’ profiles will also help to remove potential assumptions and biases about them and instead allow adopters to focus on the unique and beautiful personalities that make each dog an individual.

Potential adopters will still be able to see photos of each of our available residents and read their bios to learn more about them. As always, our incredible Adoption team will be available to answer questions, review information and help find the perfect match for each family. We are excited to move forward with this transition and know it will help even more homeless dogs find loving homes.

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