"Just calling a dog a pit bull may not allow it to be adopted," researcher Julie Levy tells the Orlando Sentinel. "It can turn into a life-threatening problem [for the dogs]."
Ken Foster, author of The Dogs Who Found Me and a contributor to The Dodo, writes about rescuing a dog identified as a "pit bull" from being put down at an animal shelter, only to discover years later that it was actually a Bullmastiff/hound mix. That experience, he says, helped to show just how insignificant such labels are compared to the animal's real selves.
"Too often we let our ideas of breed get in the way of evaluating and appreciating dogs as individuals. When people ask me why I love pit bulls, much of what I say -- they are affectionate, funny, intelligent, more human than other dogs -- are naturally what every dog lover says about their dog, regardless of breed."
If Orange County Animal Shelter's new policy proves successful in increasing adoption rates, it could spark a trend changing how animals are identified in facilities across the country.