Atlanta shelter to stop labeling dogs by breed

11:50 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 Atlanta News

Lifeline Animal Project, a local nonprofit with animal shelters in DeKalb and Fulton counties, has removed breed labels on adoptable dogs and other animals.

“Our goal is to increase adoptions by empowering our community to judge an animal based on their known behavior, not their assumed breed,” the company wrote on Facebook Wednesday.

Instead, the dogs will be labeled by temperament descriptions, a strategy already implemented in some other cities to better serve dogs and potential owners.

“It has become a national conversation,” Stephen Bardy, executive director of the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, the former SPCA of Central Florida, told The Ledger. “We have to get people to think about what they really want in a dog, what really fits with their lives — instead of having them just walk in and say, ‘I want a golden retriever puppy.’”

The change also addresses the overaggressive stigma often attached to pit bulls.

Karen Hirsch, public relations director with Lifeline, told WSB-TV that many of the dogs at the shelters that look like pit bulls aren’t really pit bulls, and are unfairly labeled according to head or chest size measurements.

But there’s no way to tell a dog’s breed just by looking.

In fact, most of the dogs in animal shelters are actually mixed-breed, workers said.

“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,” Robin Russel-Sanchez, who owns a pit bull, told WSB-TV.

“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 Lifeline Animal Project’s DeKalb and Fulton shelters take in more than 15,000 homeless animals each year — more than 40 a day.

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