In hopes that potential adopters will find a “Chiratoodle” or a “golden Chinscher” more appealing than a plain old mutt or “Chihuahua mix,” an animal shelter in California has begun DNA testing some of its dogs to determine their breeds and market them under more exotic names.
The Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA in Burlingame, south of San Francisco, says initial results show the DNA tested dogs are getting adopted twice as fast.
Not too surprising in a world that prefers labels over mysteries — at least when it comes to what we bring into our homes.
DNA testing is not widely practiced by America’s animal shelters, mainly because of its expense. As a result, most people who adopt a dog from a shelter leave with a mystery mutt, or one whose heritage has been guessed at by shelter staff.
My dog Ace, for instance, when he was adopted nearly 10 years ago, was listed as a “hound mix” on his shelter paperwork, referred to as a “shepherd mix” by shelter staff and listed on Petfinder.com as a “Labrador mix.”
When DNA tests came on the market in 2007, I purchased one, swabbed his cheek and learned he was Rottweiler and Chow. In the next few years, as the tests became capable of identifying more than the original 38 breeds, I tested him two more times. The second test determined he was Rottweiler, Chow and Akita. The third test showed him to be all of those, and a little bit pit bull.
The tests allowed me to answer the question I was asked at least once a day: “What kind of dog is that?” It wasn’t so much that I had to know. All three tests were done mostly as research, for the purpose of writing about them. And once I learned the breeds he was made up of, I kind of missed the mystery.
I don’t think the information is all that vital, but I can understand how a purchaser, or adopter, of a dog might like to know what’s in his or her mix.
In California, the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA conducted the tests in an attempt to increase the adoptions of Chihuahua mixes, which make up nearly a quarter the dogs in its shelter.
The campaign, conducted under the slogan “Who’s Your Daddy?” is aimed at “finding great homes for dogs at risk of being overlooked,” said Scott Delucchi, the shelter’s senior vice president.
“People love mutts. Still, we’re betting shelter dogs with DNA results included, for free, will be quite fetching,” he says in a commercial for the campaign.
The shelter picks up the cost of the $50 tests, which they say can help owners identify what breed-specific traits the dogs might exhibit. The tests also allow the shelter to have some fun coming up with clever breed names — like “Chorgi” (Chiuahua-corgi), “golden Chinscher” (golden retriever-miniature pinscher-Chihuahua) and “Chiratoodle” (Chihuahua-rat terrier-poodle).
In February, the shelter conducted tests that determined the breed make up of 11 small dogs. All found homes within two weeks — twice as fast as any 11 untested small, brown dogs in the previous months, according to an Associated Press story.
Twelve more dogs have been tested since then and once they are all placed in homes the shelter plans to test 24 more.
Chihuahuas have replaced pit bulls as the most prevalent breed in the shelter, largely due to the “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” movies, and the breed’s popularity among celebrities.
While some visitors to the shelter are seeking Chihuahuas, others are looking for mutts — small dogs who, thanks to another breed being in the mix, might have a less nervous dispositions.
While shelter officials have proclaimed the new program a success, they note that it’s going to take more than a gimmick to reduce the “alarming” number of Chihuahua mixes coming in.
“Another part is making spay-neuter low-cost or free to the community,” Delucchi said. The shelter also exports some of its smaller dogs to shelters in Florida, New York and other states where they are in shorter supply.
(Photo: Lynn and Tony Mazzola, with Lily, their newly adopted ”Chorkie;” by Eric Risberg / AP)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 23rd, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoptions, animals, breed tests, breeds, burlingame, california, chihuahuas, chiratoodle, dna, dogs, golden chinscher, mutts, mystery, peninsula humane society, pets, rescues, shelters, testing
Some long called for changes may be coming at Baltimore County’s animal shelter.
After more than a year of pressure by animal advocates for improvements, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced yesterday that the shelter in Baldwin, Md., will be shifting from the “narrow view” of it being a place for dangerous animals and focusing more on caring for animals and getting them adopted.
That’s exactly the sort of change we called for in yesterday’s ohmidog! post — the one suggesting local governments ditch their use of the term “animal control” and become animal protection departments.
Baltimore County hasn’t announced any formal plans to do that (maybe it’s not too late to work that in), but the county executive did outline future steps to add more employees, expand low-cost spaying and neutering services, cooperate with a program aimed at neutering feral cats and increase the shelter’s focus on getting animals adopted.
Kamenetz said he’ll hire a volunteer coordinator and a foster care coordinator at the shelter – two areas animal advocates have been critical of. He also announced that a new Facebook page will be set up devoted to promoting adoptable animals, and that the shelter will be receiving guidance from the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, commonly known as BARCS.
The changes will be included in his next budget for Animal Services — a division of the county health department — and would go into effect at the start of the next budget year on July 1, the Baltimore Sun reported.
“We think we’re moving in the proper direction in a deliberative manner,” Kamenetz said.
Animal advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland complained to the county last fall that shelter volunteers were banned from taking pictures, in violation of their First Amendment rights. The county has been working with the ACLU on training shelter employees on the rights of volunteers.
Earlier this month, the County Council passed a bill creating an animal services advisory commission to review the shelter’s operations. The 11-member commission has yet to be appointed.
In a statement released by the county executive’s office, Council Chairwoman Cathy Bevins praised the proposals as “bold steps to upgrade animal services in Baltimore County.”
The county already is building a new shelter on its current site, scheduled to open in August.
Our hope would be — in accordance with the proposal we put forth yesterday, and in accordance with the new focus Kamenetz spoke of — that the sign in front of it reads Animal Protection, or Animal Services … anything but Animal Control.
(Photos: Protest sign from WJZ; Kamenetz from Baltimore Sun)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 27th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoptions, advocates, animal control, animal control division, animal services, animal shelter, animal welfare, animals, baltimore county, budget, changes, county executive, dogs, feral cats, focus, funding, improvements, kevin kamenetz, pets, promised, reform, shelters, tnr, volunteers
Here’s an idea we love — an establishment where you can get your caffeine fix and your canine fix at the same time.
It’s a dog cafe — a cozy and comfortable place where, in addition to enjoying a nice cup of coffee or tea, you can meet, bond with and pet a few dogs, and maybe even take one home.
A woman in Los Angeles, putting a new twist on what up to now has been an Asian concept, is trying to start up America’s first dog cafe — called, appropriately enough, the Dog Cafe.
“The Dog Cafe’s mission is simple. We want to provide a second chance for shelter dogs that are often overlooked,” founder Sarah Wolfgang told LA Weekly. ”The Dog Cafe is going to put a spin on the way people adopt by totally reinventing the way we connect with homeless dogs.”
In addition to showcasing adoptable dogs in a warmer environment than most shelters offer, the cafe will allow Los Angeles residents who can’t have dogs to get a doggy fix — thereby soothing nerves frazzled by traffic jams and making workday stresses disappear.
(And maybe lowering their blood pressure at least as much as that cup of coffee is raising it.)
Allowing the petless to spend some time with pets was the idea behind pet cafes that popped up in Japan, Korea and other Asian countries. For the price of a coffee or tea, patrons — many of whom live in small crowded apartments and can’t have pets of their own — can sit in a restaurant and pet, cuddle, interact with and be surrounded by dogs, or cats.
Finding the animals homes wasn’t their purpose, but Wolfgang, who once worked at private animal shelters in Korea, saw the possibilities.
The Dog Cafe in Los Angeles will have adoption as its primary mission, but not its only one.
Working with rescue groups, the Dog Cafe will be stocked with dozens of adoptable dogs, who will roam the shop and hang out with customers.
The coffee will come from Santa Monica–based coffee roaster Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co., whose blends include Alpha Blend, Morning Walk Blend and Paper & Slippers Blend. The company donates 20 percent of its profit from each purchase to a local shelter.
Because of L.A. Health Department regulations, the cafe must be divided into two areas, keeping the drink service counter and “dog zone” separated.
She’s now raising funds — here’s her page on indiegogo – to help start the cafe.
“Our goal is to find forever homes for at least 104 dogs within the first year, though we are anticipating to reach a much higher number,” the page says. “Our project will reinvent the way people view adopting dogs and will give dogs that seemed ‘unadoptable,’ a chance at their very own forever home.”
The Dog Cafe would benefit both dogs and humans, she said — and not just those humans who adopt a pet.
“… Even if you’re not looking to adopt, you can still enjoy all of the sloppy kisses you’ve ever wanted.”
Posted by John Woestendiek January 23rd, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoptable, adoptions, animals, coffee, dog, dog cafe, dog cafes, dogs, fundraising, los angeles, pet cafes, pets, rescues, sarah wolfgang, shelters
While he’s not viewed as particularly warm and cuddly by Democrats — at least when it comes to helping humans in need — N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory says he wants the public to adopt abandoned and mistreated dogs, and he and the first lady are opening up the governor’s mansion (or at least its yard) for an adoption event tomorrow.
McCrory is shown in this News & Observer video petting a pomeranian, seized in a recent puppy mill bust in Pender County.
Lexi will be among as many as 30 dogs — some coming from as far away as Greensboro and Charlotte to attend — who will be available for adoption at the event, which runs from 10:30 a.m.to 12:30 p.m. Saturday
While it seems odd protocol for an adoption event, anyone wishing to attend is asked to RSVP by today — by emailing email@example.com.
The governor and first lady Ann McCrory are also promoting a bill to set minimum standards for breeding operations.
While the proposal isn’t too tough, relative to measures passed in other states, it sets standards ensuring that dogs have daily exercise, fresh food and water, shelter and veterinary care at breeding operations with at least 10 females.
The measure passed the House but didn’t get heard in the Senate before it recessed. The General Assembly reconvenes in May.
“I’m not going to give up on the bill,” the governor said at the press conference announcing the adoption event Wednesday. ”This dog issue is not a Democratic or Republican issue — it’s an independent issue for every one of us.”
The McCrorys have one dog, Moe, who lives at their Charlotte residence.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 15th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adoptable, adoption, adoptions, animals, ann mccrory, bill, breeders, charlotte, dogs, event, executive mansion, first lady, governor, governor's mansion, greensboro, guilford county, health, humans, legislation, lexi, north carolina, pat mccrory, pender county, pets, pomeranian, proposal, puppy mill, raid, regulations, rescues, safety, seized, shelters, standards, wake county
Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) will temporarily suspend intake of dogs due to an outbreak of respiratory infections, WJZ reports.
The three-week moratorium will allow veterinarians to treat ill animals and ensure that the infection is not transmitted to more dogs at the shelter.
No new dogs will be admitted from June 3 to June 24.
The shelter will remain open, maintain its regular hours and continue adoptions of both dogs and cats.
”We’re currently seeing a much higher rate than normal of these serious respiratory infections in dogs, and we want to deal with the problem aggressively and make sure that as few animals as possible become ill,” said BARCS Executive Director Jennifer Brause.
“This was a difficult decision and one not made without careful consideration of all options. We’re confident it’s the right thing to do for the better health of animals in Baltimore.”
“We are asking people who have dogs they need to give up, to please hold on to them until the shutdown has ended, or to find alternate housing for this short period of time,” Brause said.
People who find dogs can contact BARCS, which will help them find other shelters or rescue organizations that can accept the animal.
Cat intakes are not affected.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 29th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoptions, animal, animals, baltimore, baltimore animal rescue and care shelter, barcs, ceased, dogs, halted, health, infection, infections, intakes, pets, rescue, respiratory, shelter, suspended, veterinary
Chicago’s oldest pet store has decided to stop selling dogs purchased from breeders.
Sonja Raymond, whose family has been operating Collar & Leash since 1956, says the shop will deal only in adoptable dogs from shelters and rescues, according to CBS in Chicago
Raymond said she’d been considering the switch for five years – after noticing animals coming into the store with genetic defects and incurable illnesses, despite the assurances she received from her suppliers that the pups didn’t come from puppy mills.
“You know I had gone on the word of my distributors that I get my dogs from — that ‘Oh yeah these people are reputable, I’ve known them for years,” she said. “Within the past year I have found out they lied.”
Also pushing Collar & Leash to make the switch was the The Puppy Mill Project, a Chicago-based non-profit organization created to raise awareness about cruelty in puppy mills.
“We’d been in touch with the Puppy Mill Project Founder, Cari Meyers, for a long time, and realize it’s time we take this jump with them to help make a statement to put an end to puppy mills,” Raymond said.
“We will no longer buy and sell cats and dogs from mills and are proud to align ourselves with The Puppy Mill Project,” she said.
“It’s my biggest hope that as they become humane, other Chicago pet stores selling dogs and cats will follow in their footsteps, said Puppy Mill Project founder Meyers.
The store will hold a grand re-opening weekend Saturday and Sunday, April 6 and 7.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoptions, animals, breeders, chicago, collar & leash, dog, dogs, humane, oldest, pet, pet sales, pet stores, pets, puppies, puppy mill project, puppy mills, sales, sonja raymond, store
The 120 beagles rescued from a bankrupt New Jersey laboratory earlier this month are learning life’s simple pleasures — chief among them, the joy of grass.
Having spent their entire lives in cages, the beagles were turned over to rescue groups on the 4th of July weekend. They had been left behind, along with 55 monkeys, when Aniclin Preclinical Services in Warren County, N.J., went out of business in April.
The beagles were taken to Pets Alive, where the video above was shot, and since then, in a joint effort by several rescue organizations — they’ve been taught how to be dogs, as opposed to specimens.
As of Friday, all but 15 had been adopted, and those were expected to be placed soon, Pets Alive reported on its website.
Some of the beagles have taken more quickly to freedom than others, according to this dispatch, on the Best Friends website:
“For the first few days, volunteers would show up at Pets Alive and want to walk the beagles. Ordinarily, this would be welcomed help. But before the Great Escape, the beagles had never been outside, so a common item like a leash is a foreign object from outer space. When everything is new, it’s important not to introduce too much at once because if the dogs become too overwhelmed they can withdraw and shock becomes an issue.
“But these dogs are resilient. Every day, they are increasingly curious and decreasingly timid. So after slow stepping it for a week, today, the walks began.
“With the help of wonderful volunteers, like John, the dogs were each walked more times today then all the days of their previous lives combined. For most of the dogs, it was a bit of a painstaking experience. Take a step. Stop. Look around. Step. Freeze. Move backward. Take a step.
“But while Rex was at the head of the class, little Millie was sitting in the back of the room hoping nobody would notice her. Millie is a sweet little girl who has captured the heart of all of us involved with the rescue. She has struggled with all the changes, at times being outgoing and jovial and then quickly changing to withdrawn and timid.
“Today, when a young couple came in to find a female beagle to adopt, Millie didn’t give them much to work with. She was curled up tight in her kennel, with her back to all potential adopters and her face tucked under her legs. Motionless, she stayed like a ball. Trying to shut everyone out. But something about this family told me Millie was the perfect dog for them…
“It took a good 20 minutes before Millie and the couple were warming up to each other. An hour later? Millie was strutting, on a leash, down the driveway with her tail wagging, heading home with her new family.”
(Photo: Rex running, by Becky Tegze / Courtesy of Best Friends)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, adoptions, aniclin, animal welfare, animals, beagle, beagles, best friends, dogs, experiments, great escape, lab, laboratory, new jersey, ohmidog!, pets, pets alive, rehabilitate, rehabilitation, rescue, research