Innovative DNA Testing Results In More Big Dogs Adopted
Although the shelter in Florida is primarily a no-kill shelter, they still wanted to insure that big dogs got new homes.
Who Really Gets Adopted and Who Doesn’t
Currently, dogs such as American Staffordshire Terriers, Pit Bulls, Cand American Bulldogs have less than a 75% chance of adoption while Huskies, Shepherds, Pugs, Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, Poodles, Schnauzers and Shih Tsus have a much easier time and are adopted more than 85% of the time.
Overall, extra large dogs are only adopted 78% of the time; large and medium –sized dogs 80%, and small dogs 84.5%, according to recent statistics. Age also affects the ability to find a new home. Senior dogs are only adopted 68% of the time while adult dogs get new homes 76% of the time. Young dogs have an 80% chance of being adopted and pups have a 95% chance.
The color of the dog is also important in adoptions. Adopting parents stay away from red, chestnut or orange-colored dogs and brindles while golden, black, yellow, tan, blond or fawn colored dogs are happily eating new dog chow at their new homes.
With big dogs, it appears you have to be a “Big Dog Person” in order to adopt them. A Big Dog Person is someone who loves doing things outdoors with their pet – hiking, snowshoeing, bicycling, and even water sports. Have you noticed you NEVER see a small dog on a boating excursion? The heat is too much for them. However, the big dogs can take the heat – and all the activity.
How The DNA Testing Started
The staff thought outside the box about how to get through to the Big Dog People. They knew that there must have been a missing link in the thinking of the Big Dog People And that’s when someone on their staff got the Light Bulb Experience – the Big Idea that appeared to be a revelation from heaven.
Related: Cool Ideas For Dog Adoption Events
They thought it must be that the Big Dog People were shying away from adoption because they didn’t know enough about who the big dogs at the shelter belonged to previously and what the pedigree of the dog was.
And if people thought similarly to how men and women might check out a future spouse by finding out who the person’s parents were, maybe they would be more apt to adopt a dog. After all, dating a woman whose family tree includes some celebrities and some wealthy people makes her a lot more attractive. A big dog with a background of a champion or one that had a little small dog DNA or someone’s favorite big dog breed in it would still have the personality traits of that breed.
Luckily, the shelter also received a $10K Big Dog DNA grant from the Best Friends Animal Society. They ran 200 different DNA samples on dogs and put the information in their adoption cards so potential owners would know exactly what they were getting.
And it worked. One hundred eighty-four big dogs larger than 40 pounds were adopted.
What’s the Future for Dog DNA Testing?
By running DNA samples of dogs that needed help in adoption, the idea just might catch on with other shelters across America. For example, a new Big Dog Owner could say, “Hey, what kind of dog do you have?” to a friend. The friend would reply, “I really don’t know. Just an ordinary mutt!”
And the new Big Dog Owner could say, “Well, hey, I found out about Ralph. He’s got the DNA of a Siberian Husky, Labrador Retriever, Dachshund and Jack Russell. It sure did explain why he loves the snow, can’t help himself run after small animals, burrows in my bed at night…”
Or the new Big Dog Owner could have a little pride in his dog and announce how the four-legged friend is the most stately dog he knows… and he’s got DNA on it to prove it. He could imply that everyone needs DNA testing on their dog, too.
Whatever approach new dog owners take, it’s going to be good.
More by Donna Schwontkowski