A new study done by a veterinary professor at the University of Florida is putting the spotlight on pit bulls and providing new chances for dogs labeled as “pit bulls” to find loving homes. The study done at the university found that many shelters are mislabeling dogs that come into the shelter as pit bulls, when in reality the dogs are a mix. The term “pit bull” does not refer to a breed. The study that was recently published in the “Veterinary Journal” found that 48% of dogs that are labeled as a pit bull or a pit bull mix are not actually pit bulls. Mislabeling poses a threat to each animal that receives this label and can result in needless euthanasia. The study found that physical characteristics such as “blocky” heads and a muscular body are the main characteristics that shelter staff use to label these dogs. These labels can be wrong. Veterinarians who participated in the study recommend that DNA tests be used to determine the percentage of what research refers to as “pit bull heritage” that is present in each dog with the physical characteristics that are labeled as pit bulls. DNA tests that were used in the study found that only 12.5 % were American Staffordshire Terrier or Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The average cost for a DNA test is $60-$80, and most shelters cannot afford to pay for the test. Veterinarians recommend that potential pet parents have a dog of interest tested and that the cost is worth it to save the life of a deserving dog. Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center has now implemented selective DNA testing to improve its adoption numbers for these dogs.
The majority of dogs in both the Sarasota County Animal Shelter and the Manatee County Animal Services shelter have received the label of “pit bull” or a mix. Both shelters are working hard to overcome the stigma that these dogs have. Play groups and socialization training are being used at both shelters to successfully find responsible forever homes for these dogs. Adoption counselors recommend that pet parents are informed about landlord rules and policies of homeowner associations.
The dogs that are featured in the slideshow are in residence at the Manatee County Animal Services shelter in Palmetto, Fl. Some have the label of “pit bull” along with a mixed breed. Veterinarians who participated in the study from the University of Florida recommend that potential pet parents look at size, color, sex, and personality when choosing a dog. You may view other beautiful photos of adoptable dogs from the Manatee County Animal Services shelter by logging on at www.mymanatee.org/pets. The shelter is located at 305 25th Street W in Palmetto. These loving dogs are worth a DNA test.