Many times, when looking at a shelter online or viewing dogs in a shelter, many of them are labeled "pit bulls." Now, pit bulls refers to a broader range of dogs that fall into the "pit" category like American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bulldog and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Often one labels a dog as a "pit" just by looking at it. But, they could be wrong.
The University of Florida recently conducted a new study analyzing the DNA of shelter dogs. Researchers evaluated the breeds assigned to 120 dogs by 16 different shelter staff members. Blood samples were taken from the dogs, and the researchers compiled DNA profiles for each dog to compare with assessments made by the shelter employees.
Even though the shelter employees included four veterinarians, it was found that pit bull-type heritage was only positively identified 33 to 75 percent of the time. On the other hand, dogs with zero genetic evidence of being a pit bull were labeled as pit bull as much as 48 percent of the time.
So what does this study say? Basically, dogs that are labeled "pit bulls" might not be pit bulls, and dogs that aren't labeled pit bulls, might be. Unfortunately, shelter employees have a lack of agreement over which dogs were pit bulls and which weren't. This is reflective of a problem not only in the shelters studied, but those all across America.
Unfortunately, dogs being mislabeled as "pits" have an unfair bias towards them. Often, these are the dogs that never get adopted because of the stereotype of the pit bull breeds. Many municipal governments have put into place breed limitations and bans, to stop people from owning pit bulls.
Let's remember first that no one breed is inherently more aggressive or dangerous than another. One pit bull might be aggressive, but a poodle might be aggressive, too!
But because this isn't the view some government officials and owners of apartment complexes think, there is continued bias against pit bulls.
According to data from PETA, an estimated 70% of dogs that end up in shelters are classified as pit bulls.
Hopefully in the future, doggy DNA testing will be common enough to be implemented into shelters and get true breed classifications.
Just remember, whether a dog is a pit bull or not isn't what makes it loving or not. Make sure you open your heart and get to know a pup, no matter what their breed is!