Dogs Saved by DNA Testing
“Mindy is a canine victim of profiling. She was labeled a pitbull and that made it hard to find someone to adopt her, so shelter volunteers turned to science.”
After being abandoned, Mindy spent 6 months at the Trumbull, Connecticut Shelter. Because she looked like a pitbull, no one wanted to adopt her, so shelter workers looking for a way to help the sweet-natured dog find a home decided to solicit donations to test Mindy’s DNA to find out what she really was.
“Mindy is about 70-percent boxer and also bull terrier. She has some bulldog further down the line and a little bit of English cocker. So much for pit bull. What Mindy also has is a great personality and a bouncing, prancing way of getting around.”
“This is the first time a dog at the shelter has had its DNA checked to help get it adopted. If it works Mindy, she may not be the last.”
Niko spent eight months at KCK Animal Control Kennels during his owners fight with the city. Animal Control Staff said the dog was a pitbull (a breed banned in the city), despite his owner’s assertion that Niko is a boxer mix.
When Niko’s family put up an ad trying to find him a new home, Animal Control saw it and confiscated him, stating that he was a pit bull — even though his owner had paperwork that stated the dog a boxer. According to Niko’s owner, Animal Control staff refused to even look at the paperwork.
Even as evidence mounts that breed specific legislation is difficult to enforce and that it doesn’t result in decreased dog bite statistics, pitbull bans continue to crop up all over the country.
Part of the problem is that it is impossible to define exactly what a ‘pitbull’ is.
The term pitbull does not refer to a specific breed of dog. It is a generic term used to a group of dogs with similar traits and characteristics. Literally dozens of breeds have been pigeonholed together in the generic ‘pitbull’ classification.
Many of those breeds are not included by name in breed specific legislation – but because of their appearance (and an overly broad definition of what a ‘pitbull’ is), members of dozens of breeds — and mixes of those breeds — are called ‘pitbulls’ by shelters, law enforcement, media and the public at large.
Despite what media reports, legislators, law enforcement and others might suggest, it is simply impossible to determine what breed or breed mix a dog is, without a verifiable pedigree or accurate DNA test.
In spite of this, thousands of dogs are affected by ‘breed specific’ legislation (an obvious oxymoron) because they have short coats, broad heads and muscular bodies – and because people obsessed with labeling insist on pigeonholing this wonderful and very diverse group of dogs into one insanely broad category.
If you ask me, using a DNA test to say that a dog isn’t a pitbull is a little bit like using one to tell me that my horse isn’t a unicorn. But – if that test can save more dogs from confiscation or death – it’s a very good thing.