Indianapolis News and Headlines


Indy Humane eliminates dog-breed labels

Posted at 5:37 PM, May 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-04 17:37:50-04

INDIANAPOLIS – When choosing a new furry member of your family (no, not your next husband!) you typically consider several factors. There's a good chance one of them is the dog's breed. Taking that into consideration may be a bit trickier now.

Indy Humane is getting rid of dog-breed labels.

For example, cages will no longer be marked as to whether the dog is a Lab, pitbull or poodle.

MORE DOG ‘TAILS’ | Dog found in dumpster gets adopted | Shelter dogs train to become service dogs

The reasoning behind the change in policy is pretty simple.

It’s to make sure sweet dogs that happen to have even just a bit of pitbull in them get adopted, and aren’t immediately rejected by families because of a breed label.

For example, while it might not be certain a dog is a pitbull, that would be on her kennel card before this new policy. Mostly because that’s what she kind of looks like.

But many dogs are mislabeled as pitbulls when they aren’t.

RELATED | More cats, dogs leaving Indianapolis shelter alive

Now, that same dog’s card will say her age, her size, details about her personality and more. But it won’t include her breed.

At the heart of this, the desire is not to mislead people or trick them into getting a breed they don’t want.

Instead, Indy Humane says the desire is to get potential adopters to look past that one label – which isn’t always correct and doesn’t always predict a dog’s behavior.

“If we take away a preconceived notion, you might fall in love with a dog,” Indy Humane Director of Canine Training and Behavior Connie Swaim said. “So yeah, we’re not going to say, ‘It’s not (a pitbull),’ – we’re going to tell people who ask. But what we want people to do is, look at a dog for who it is. Did you fall in love with it because of its personality?”

Bottom line: It’s about giving these dogs a chance, and getting people to look past the breed label.

But if you do come to Indy Humane looking for a pet and you need to know the breed – perhaps your apartment doesn’t allow pitbulls – you can still ask and get the answer.


Follow Anne Kelly on Twitter: @annekellyrtv6 | Facebook: AnneKellyRTV6