Shelter removes breed from kennel tags

- If you're a dog person, you know how hard it can be to find a new four-legged friend. Valley shelters are full of great dogs to adopt, but how do you choose?

Some people stay away from breeds they fear, like pit-bulls, chows, or German shepherds. But stereotyped breeds are something one shelter is trying to get away from; you adopt the dog based on its personality rather than its breed.

Sherlock is up for adoption at the Arizona Animal Welfare League.

"Sherlock is awesome, he likes to play fetch, he loves to play in the yard, he wants to be with people," said Michael Morefield.

But what about his breed?

"He's got blue eyes, beautiful brown and white coloring like a husky, but he's 27 pounds and stands 8 inches off the ground... so why would we want to put a breed on his kennel which might be wrong," said Morefield.

That is one reason why you won't find Sherlock's breed on his kennel label or any other dog label in this shelter.

"The whole reason behind our decision to take breed labels off of their kennel cards is most of the idea we are just guessing to what they are," said Judith Gardner.

Gardner is President and CEO of the AAWL. The decision not to use breed labels goes further than eliminating guesswork; it's about getting these dogs adopted.

"What we are trying to get around is the pre-conceived notions people have of certain breeds. If they see a breed say a chow-chow or a German shepherd they may have a pre-conceived notion of that," said Gardner.

Instead of reading a sign that identifies the dog by breed, the AAWL wants people to bond with the dog instead, and find out from shelter volunteers what the dog is really like.

"ASU did some work with us, they did a big study that showed there really are a lot of pre-conceived notions about certain breeds of dogs," said Gardner.

After all, some dogs defy any description at all, like Beans, who is up for adoption. "He's basically a cartoon, he's kinda fat, he's got a little head, he's got little teeth that aren't straight, and a little wimpy tail, he is a living cartoon," she said.

If asked the AAWL will tell the breed of the dog, and the dog breeds are also listed on their website.

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