No more labels? Not a problem: WilCo animal shelter drops breed labels for dogs

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The Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter is no longer using breed labels to identify its adoptable dogs. 

“The main focus is on the fact that 75 percent of the guesses are wrong when a staff member assigns a breed to a dog,” Community Programs Coordinator Misty Valenta said. 

Misidentification is a common issue when it comes to puppies. 

“Usually people want to know their breed so they will know how they’re going to grow up to be,” Valenta said.  “But buying a puppy is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”

Valenta emphasized that physical appearance is not an indication of a dog’s personality, their past or future behavior or their suitability for a particular adoption placement.

“If a family comes in that wants a dog that does really well with kids we can recommend one that does,” she said. 

Since they stopped labeling the dogs, people still inquire about their breeds. 

However, the shelter hasn’t had a problem explaining the dilemma to potential adopters. 

“Usually people are good with it once we explain the focus on the personality of the dogs and they appreciate it,” Valenta said. “Most of the time it’s not really the dog breed they are looking for but certain characteristics that they think that dog has.”

Valenta said they’ve been doing the same thing with cats for years without a hitch. 

“We generally don’t breed label our cats,” Valenta said. “Domestic short, medium, long, that’s the norm most of the time when we’re labeling them.” 

Losing the breed label is something that is trending in shelters across America. 

“When you remove breed labels, you open the door to possibility. You have a chance to fall in love without being inhibited by breed,” Cheryl Schneider, animal services director for the county, said. “Instead, fall in love by listening to your heart.”

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