MAS to eliminate breed labeling - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

MAS to eliminate breed labeling

Dog at MAS (Source: WMC Action News 5) Dog at MAS (Source: WMC Action News 5)
MAS Director Alexis Pugh (Source: WMC Action News 5) MAS Director Alexis Pugh (Source: WMC Action News 5)

Memphis Animal Services announced it will no longer be using breed names as descriptions for adoptable pets.

MAS Director Alexis Pugh announced Monday that starting Tuesday MAS would no longer put breed labels on animals admitted to Memphis shelters.

Pugh said labeling an animal based solely on what they look like is extremely inaccurate. She quoted research that said the assigned labels are correct only 25 percent of the time.

"People are right," Pugh said. "We're making bad guesses. So, we're not gonna guess anymore."

She said those incorrect labels can be harmful to the animals.

"Too often we see people walk through the kennels, stop, see a dog they fall in love with, look up at the kennel card and see the words 'pit bull' or some other breed they associate negative things with, and they put their head own and walk on to the next. We're not going to be part of that breed discrimination anymore," Pugh said.

MAS hopes to eliminate all breed labels in their kennels by the end of October.

"It was concluded that in a shelter environment, removing breed labels has been associated with increased adoptions and reduced length of stay for all breed groups, particularly pit bull type dogs," Pugh said.

Many are welcoming the change MAS is making, but said it should only be the beginning.

"We focus too much on what these breeds are," Andrea Adams of Big Fluffy Dog Rescue said. "So, this is a huge step. Huge."

But, she said it needs to be the first step of many, especially after some recent high-profile accidental euthaniasias, including that of four puppies. She also said the punishments for employees who mess up is too soft.

"We wanna make sure that the animals are being treated justly at all times," Adams said. "If the euthanasia rate goes down and animals are still being mistreated, you know, it's still not a total solution."

Pugh said removing breed labels is a move that comes days before she plans to release a new, revamped euthanasia policy which will require heavy training for employees. 

Both changes, she said, are important steps.

"This is an easy thing that we can do and do right now that is going to bring positive change," Pugh said. "It's all about making small changes that add up to bigger change, that add up to bigger change, that add up to the outcome that we all want to see."

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