Although U.K. workers seemed to underreport pit bulls more frequently, in the U.S., the reluctance to classify a dog as a pit bull may be intentional. For shelters in areas where breed-specific laws apply, 40 percent of workers said they would purposefully identify a dog as something other than a pit bull or other banned breed. Even in places without BSL, where renters and homeowners might run into problems with landlords and insurance, Hoffman says, shelter workers may have an incentive to keep "pit bull" off of a dog's tag.
The intent isn't to trick would-be adopters - it's to get these dogs to more homes. Not only are pit bulls euthanized in disproportionate numbers, but pet owners are less likely to pick a pit bull up from a shelter. One U.S. rescue worker wrote: "I would put Lab mix because they get adopted easier, but he looks like he could be Staffie (Staffordshire bull terrier)."
"It's kind of scary that decisions are being made on individual dogs based on BSL," Hoffman says to The Dodo, "when we don't have a clear definition of what a pit bull is."