Did you hear? We made a small, but significant change here at LifeLine Animal Project: we removed breed labels.

This decision wasn’t taken lightly. In fact, we researched study after study, talked to experts and relied on our partners for advice before finally deciding that this was the right move for us, for our animals and for our community.

We made this decision for many reasons but the most important one: we want to be honest and transparent with our adopters and our community. We want people to pick the dog that fits their family best, based on their personality, not based on how the dog looks. According to numerous studies, including one in The Veterinary Journal, visual breed identification is widely inaccurate. Truth be told, if the animal doesn’t come with pedigree papers or a DNA test, there’s no way for us to know what he/she is mixed with. (In fact, did you know that only 1% of a dog’s DNA makes up their physical appearance?)

When we attempt to visually identify the breed of the animal, we are guessing and more often than not, we are wrong. And along with those inaccurate breed labels, comes the breed trait assumptions. All of these assumptions set the animal and the potential adopter up to fail. A person coming in looking for a Labrador who likes to swim and retrieve, may be surprised when they get home and find that dog would rather run than swim, and cuddle instead of fetch. We have no way of knowing in the shelter, what percentage of that dog is truly a Labrador retriever.

So, we’ve taken the guesswork out of the adoptions process! We are no longer labeling animals by their assumed breed, but instead, by their known behavior. We’ve found this creates a much better match for the adopter by ensuring the animal is a good fit for their lifestyle.

We believe that every animal is an individual and should be treated as such. And we encourage those who visit our shelters to join us in changing the conversation! Let’s focus on the animal’s personality, temperament, and behavior. Let’s look past the label, and instead, focus on what really matters: how the dog will fit within your home and your community.

The next time someone comes in looking for a dog who is couch potato, or would make a great running partner, or is good with kids, we will help them find their perfect match!

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LifeLine Animal Project

Founded in 2002 and now managing DeKalb and Fulton County Animal Services, LifeLine Animal Project is the leading non-profit organization working to end the euthanasia of healthy and treatable dogs and cats in metro Atlanta shelters. Together, we will make Atlanta a no-kill community.

LifeLine Animal Project is an IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and all donations are tax-deductible.

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