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PhilRuffin and Gabby-smPhil Snyder, Executive Director

Press Articles

What's in a shelter dog?

englewood-sun-logoBy Phil Snyder, Executive Director of Suncoast Humane Society

Published in the Englewood Sun on April 3, 2016

"You certainly get a lot of pit bulls in the shelter" is a comment heard on a regular basis at Suncoast Humane Society. This is also the case at other animal shelters throughout Florida and across the country that are open admissions and accept all animals.

The statistic keepers say that pit bull and pit bull mixes are the No. 1 type of dog that find themselves in an animal shelter. This statistic also includes similar breeds referred to as bully breeds including, Staffordshire terriers, American pit bull terriers, English bull terriers, and American bulldogs.

In addition to bully types, there are other breeds of dogs that are often found at animal shelters. Topping the list are Labrador retrievers, beagles, Jack Russel terriers, Chihuahuas, boxers, German shepherds, border collies and dachshunds. Since these breeds are popular in various areas of the country, mixed breed offspring are also found at shelters.

Currently, there are 187 breeds recognized by the America Kennel Club (AKC). There are other breed registries that recognize many additional breeds of dogs. Being a pure-bred dog does not always mean that they were bred by a responsible breeder, nor does it assure them a permanent home. Many purebred dogs are turned into animal shelters.

In fact, it is estimated that 25 percent of dogs admitted to animal shelters are pure bred. Of course they don't come in carrying their registration papers in their mouth, but animal care staff can usually identify which breed they are.

Over the past several years, the craze of designer breeds have been added to the mix. This term refers to the hybrid mix of two different breeds.

Designer breeds usually have cutesy names that end in oodle, puddle, or poo. For instance, Labrador and golden retrievers bred to poodles become Labradoodles and goldendoodles. And, there is, of course, the ever popular cock-a-poo, which is a cocker spaniel bred with a poodle. I was once asked if our shelter had any "cockle Spaniards." I am not sure, but maybe he thought that was the Spanish version of a cocker spaniel.

Many designer breeds demand higher price tags than some purebreds, which doesn't sit well with purebred dog enthusiasts. They say designer dogs are hybrid, not purebred. People seemed surprised to hear that even designer breeds are showing up in animal shelters. This is, however, to be expected when certain breeds, or in this case, hybrids, become too popular too quickly.

Sadly, living creatures become disposable.

Humane Society and animal control shelters do receive many small dogs and other types that people consider more of a house companion. These pets are usually adopted very quickly, with adoptable animals now being advertised on websites, social media, and as pets of the day or week in newspapers. This leaves the big guys waiting for a home that can accommodate them. So, don't believe it when you hear that animal shelters never get good dogs. We all get many great dogs and cats in need of a special home. Check the websites daily, as dogs, cats, and other adoptable pets come in every day. Be patient as the purebred, designer breed, and of course, a mixture of all of the above may soon be waiting, just for you. Adopt from your local animal shelter!