Updated: Feb 6, 2020
Y'all, I've got a chip on my shoulder right now, and it just pupped into my head and isn't necessarily related to anything going on right this minute. It's something that we hear a lot in rescue, even from well-meaning people and it irks my heckles up so I'm gonna share it. I also just took some Nyquil to declare war on this mean headcold so it's consider this our first battle of wills. Race to the death. Whatever.
Animal shelters guess. That's it. Animal Shelters, especially in the south, are staffed by people often paid MINIMUM WAGE (have you looked at minimum wage lately? I know I'm dating myself ((someone should heheh)) but I haven't worked for minimum wage since it was $4.15? maybe $4.25?). Sometimes they get into shelter work because they love animals. Sometimes because it's a job. Sometimes both. No one, zero people, get into it for the money.
People who work at intake at your city shelter generally have no special training on dog or cat breed identification. Possibly some info in passing about teeth about guessing age. They may try to research it themselves, they may not. When animals get dumped at shelters, they are SELDOM dumped with papers. We try to get as much info as we can from owners or the people who "picked them up as strays". Often picked them up 7 years ago but that is an entirely different rant.
The issue is that the staff is often given little information and little incentive to do research on things like breed and age. So they guess. Lots of shelters have their run of the mill guesses. Shepherd mix could be anything from German Shepherd to Australian Shepherd to Anatolian Shepherd. Terrier mix is almost as broad of a variety, it covers anything that looks like a bully breed because of Pit Bulls, anything wire haired because of shaggy types like Yorkies and Scotties, and anything small because of Rat and Fox Terriers. Seems like a clever way to be lazy right? I do favor it over the ones who write "San Antonio special" or Heinz 57 because dude, you are not even TRYING. My first shelter called anything with even a slightly long coat a chow mix. They also killed 97% of the animals that came through the door. I fussed and fussed and posted photos of different breeds all around the front desk. If you're going to guess, guess a breed that doesn't have a negative reputation with the general public! I don't care if your guess is they're all long haired chihuahua/Great Dane mixes, stop telling people our shelter is full of Chow Chows! They aren't even THAT COMMON! This was a shelter who didn't even adopt out pitties. They've come a long loooong way since then. Anyway I digress.
The point of this prattle is that WE DON'T KNOW so we give it our best guess. Now that there are breed tests, if we get to see enough of them, maybe we can give a better guess. Maybe not. Check out my Pedigree at the end. I guarantee you wouldn't have guessed. My mom didn't guess a single breed right but she's pretty clueless anyway. I hear SO MANY PEOPLE SAYING:
-The shelter lied and said he was this breed
-The rescue lied and said she was only 6 months old
-The shelter lied and said she was great with cats
-The rescue lied and said he was part lab
Shelters and rescues are making their best guesses with the information that they have on hand. We share what the owner/surrenderer said unless we have info to the contrary. Our vets do the same for us. Your vet may say we're wrong or our vets or wrong. They may be right, they may not be, they are making an educated guess.
The example that comes to mind is an adopter who accused me personally of lying about a cats age. I whipped out my phone and showed her a photo of that cat as a kitten with his mother and litter mates and the dated photo that we got them from the shelter at 2 weeks old, right as their eyes had started to open.
#1 I wouldn't have lied to you, but I may have guessed wrong.
#2 I didn't guess wrong, the shelter had the kittens EXACT birth date because they were born there, and even if they'd been a day or two off, it wouldn't matter because you can tell when kittens hit age milestones when they are that young.
#3 Your vet guessed, was incorrect, and you came at me calling me a liar. An incorrect guess is no big deal, we do it all the time. Calling me a liar is no bueno. We are literally doing the best with the information that we have been given.
I had a coworker that I love and respect call an Australian Shepherd a Calico. Just doing the best we can ya'll.
The only thing I commiserate with is if someone adopts a dog to you saying its a lab mix and it's a pit mix. I call anything that remotely looks like a pit a pit. I think I learned that in my first few years of animal welfare. Do it or it will bite you in the behind. Like a tall chihuahua. Even if rescuer/adopter/vet all say, oh yeah this is definitely a Mastiff/Whippet/Plotthound mix. Your landlord, or neighbor, or Insurance company is gonna hunt you down and call you a liar and cause trouble. I get fussed at sometimes but we're all pit bulls. Are they they're own breed? American Pit Bull Terrier? Staffordshire Terrier? Whatever. All the dogs and cats are pits. No sugar coating it. We are a Cat Bull Terrier Rescue as well.
I think I've hit my main points. The Nyqyil is winning again, this was my second wind. My human is ready for bed and she's hopelessly passing out in her chair...again.
Peace love and Car Rides,