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Dogs have a tough time getting adopted in rescue shelters, and the label of 'Pitbull' can turn some families off. A recent study finds an alarming percentage of veterinarians and shelter staff are mislabeling rescued dogs.

Did you know that there is no such thing as a 'Pitbull' breed?

It’s true. Pitbulls make up a category or group of dogs that hold similar characteristics – it’s a description rather than a genetic makeup. So when you think you see a Pitbull, you may be looking at a dog derived from an American Staffordshire Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier that can be mixed with any other breed of dog. Or you may not be looking at a Pitbull at all, as many people (even veterinarians) mislabel dogs upon first glance.

A study from study from the University of Florida showed that almost half of shelter dogs were mislabeled as pit bulls by 16 shelter staff, four of which were veterinarians in four different shelters. All of the veterinarians had at least three years of experience on the job.

Researchers conducted the test by taking blood samples from 120 dogs to compare to shelter employee’s answers. They concluded that only 33 to 75 percent of the time, a true pitiful heritage was positively identified and 48 per cent of the time, dogs that had no pitbull heritage were mislabeled.

Being labeled as a pit bull is no fun affair at a shelter. Unfortunately for those pit bull heritage dogs (as well as those who are mislabeled as such), adoption rates plummet, as many apartment buildings and lease owners will not allow tenants to have any Pitbull-type dogs on the premises.

This is based on the assumption that pit bull heritage dogs are aggressive and dangerous by nature, which is not the case. American Staffordshire Terriers, for example, are loving, loyal and playful. Any dog can be uncooperative, aggressive and destructive if you train them to be, not just Pitbulls. It is a case of nature vs. nurture and taking away the fact that the American Staffordshire Terrier or Stafford Bull Terrier are naturally muscular, they are no different than any other dog on the street.

Unfortunately, in places like Miami, you can be fined up to $500 for acquiring or evenkeeping such dogs around. It’s no wonder that an estimated 70 percent of shelter dogs in North America are classified as Pitbulls. With further education and an easier and cost-effective way of testing doggy DNA, shelters will be better able to find out exactly what kind of dog they’re rescuing, in order to help families make the right adoption decision.
Read more about the Study: 50% of Rescue Dogs Mislabeled as Pitbulls by Shelter Staff at PetGuide.com.
 

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