• Animal shelter will no longer label dogs by breed

    By: Wendy Corona

    Updated:

    DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Lifeline Animal Project, which runs the Fulton County and DeKalb County animal shelters, will no longer identify the breed of dogs waiting for adoption.  

    The group said the change is meant to give all dogs a chance at adoption.

    The dogs will instead have a description of their temperament in hopes of making better matches.

    “You should judge a dog by the behavior instead of the breed,” said Neely Conway with Lifeline Animal Project.

    Workers said most of the dogs in animal shelters are mixed-breed and no one can be 100 percent certain of their breed.

    “We’re trying to help all of the dogs just by removing the labels because there are a lot of dogs that do look like pit bulls that aren’t pit bulls, so they get labeled unfairly,” said Karen Hirsch, the public relations director of Lifeline Animal Project.

    Hirsch said some puppies could get labeled as pit bulls because of their head and chest size, when in reality “their dad is a Basenji and their mom is a Cocker Spaniel.”


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    Robin Russel-Sanchez is a pit bull owner who said she believes connecting with a dog’s personality will create better adoption matches, especially with pit mixes.

    “The fact that you’re giving people the opportunity to adopt without the rescue, without that red tape, I think it’s going to help a lot,” she said.

    Animal shelter staff, volunteers and foster care input help identify each dog’s demeanor, which they believe carries more weight than its breed.

    “We think it’ll improve the quality of our adoptions and we’ll see less dogs being returned because it will create a better match,” Hirsch said.

    The Fulton and DeKalb animal shelters receive between 20 and 40 dogs each day and adopt out an average of 10 per day. Workers said the change in labels is a trend some cities have implemented to better serve animals and those looking to adopt them.

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