Rather than labeling rescue dogs by breeds, it sorts them according to behavior.
ORLANDO, Fla. — For shelter dogs, life is one long cheerleader tryout. If you’re young, cute and perky, everybody wants you. Older and plus-sized? Not so much.
So some shelters are changing the way they showcase their canine residents, hoping to get prospective adopters to look beyond fur-deep — even beyond breed labels — to see a dog’s true character and potential.
“It has become a national conversation,” says Stephen Bardy, executive director of the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando. “We have to get people to think about what they really want in a dog, what really fits with their lives — instead of having them just walk in and say, ‘I want a golden retriever puppy.’”
Recently, the agency decided to stop labeling its rescue dogs by their breed type — which was largely guesswork anyway — and employ a Harry Potter-themed sorting system. As fans of the wildly popular fantasy series know, Potter and his classmates at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are assigned to the boarding school’s various houses according to their abilities, personality and preferences.
The Pet Alliance calls it the “Pawgwarts” kennel, where dogs are labeled by the toys they pick and how they behave in play groups. The staff hung Potter-inspired banners for prospective pet owners and posted each group’s traits.