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BREED FREE SHELTER

The Dubuque Regional Humane Society (DRHS) made the transition to be a breed free facility with the goal being to help people find a dog whose personality fits the adopter's lifestyle rather than depending on breed stereotypes. The majority of dogs entering the DRHS are mixed breed dogs. Visual breed identification is most often wrong, even when performed by experts. One study found that 90% of dog breed guesses by adoption agencies did not match the predominant breed identification through DNA analysis. 

Is guessing the breed a bad thing?

Breed stereotypes are more problematic in a shelter as the community trusts what we label the animals' predominant breed. People tend to make assumptions about the dogs' personalities and future behavior based on these guesses and can have an impact the length of time a dog waits to be adopted. Labels can also lead adopters to pass up on a dog that’s a better match for their lifestyle in favor of one whose breed label appeals.

How do I find the right dog?

The DRHS aims to help people find a dog whose personality fits your lifestyle rather than breed stereotypes. Ask questions about things that are important to you, such as:

  • Is this animal good with kids?

  • What is this animal's energy level?

  • How does this animal feel about meeting new people?

"When you adopt a dog, you are not adopting a bully, a German shepherd or Saint Bernard, you are adopting Jerry or Mo. When you love a dog, you don’t love a German shepherd. You love Jerry."
— Michael Morefield, director of marketing and communications for the Arizona Animal Welfare League

Check out some of these awesome resources to learn more about how other shelters are taking the label-free approach:

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