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‘Pit bull’ label could kill a dog’s chances of finding a home

A dog by any other name would act as sweet—but if you call him a pit bull, he may never get a chance to show it. Dogs labeled as pit bulls waited more than three times as long as similar-looking dogs to be adopted from a shelter, Smithsonian reports. When researchers showed pictures of both groups of dogs to potential owners, people judged the supposed pit bulls as less friendly, trainable, and adoptable, but those differences vanished when the breed labels were removed, according to a study published last month in PLOS ONE. The researchers also found that at one shelter, abolishing breed labels increased the rate at which pit bull–type dogs were adopted. The group of breeds known as “pit bulls” has a reputation for fierceness, which many argue is undeserved. Regardless of what real pit bulls are like, genetic research suggests that many shelter dogs labeled as pit bulls actually have no pit bull ancestry.  

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