A Florida animal shelter is using DNA testing to help larger dogs fill out their portfolio and get adopted.
The government-operated Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center has started DNA testing its adoptable dogs thanks to a $10,000 Big Dog Adoption Grant from the Best Friends Animal Society. The pilot program was created to help larger dogs find homes.
The shelter took swabs of 200 dogs over 40 pounds and sent them to the lab for analysis. Now that the results are back, the pups are seeing results as well, with 184 of the dogs finding homes with forever families, rescue organizations or foster homes.
This is an increase for the Pet Resource Center, which, like many shelters, can have trouble placing larger dogs. Since the first question from many potential adopters is “What kind of dog is this?” the shelter figured providing answers would help sway families to choose a larger pup, and it was right.
To help promote the DNA testing, the shelter has been posting adoptable dogs on its Facebook and asking followers to guess the breeds that make up each dog. Many users are surprised to find that larger dogs often have a bit of little dog in their DNA, like Spree the Chinese Shar-Pei and American Staffordshire mix.
DNA testing also helps new owners abide by the breed restrictions present in many apartment complexes, so dogs can’t be turned away solely because they “look” like a certain breed. Pet parents can also make better choices when it comes to diet, training and veterinary care when they know the breeds that make up their mutt.
The Florida kill shelter, which currently has a live-release rate of 87% (and rising), hopes to continue the DNA testing with incoming dogs and to inspire other shelters to try the same tactic in its facilities.